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‘The blurring of the then and the now’

An author returns West, looking for unexpected intersections.

Harrison Fletcher talks with students at Collegiate School in Richmond, Virginia. Fletcher spent four years teaching in the East and has recently started teaching at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, Colorado.
Collegiate School

Harrison Candelaria Fletcher sat across from me in a cafe near Colorado State University, nursing an English brown ale. He said he knew how to critique art, so I pointed to a painting on the wall. “It’s clearly impressionistic. It’s busy. It’s a city,” he said, adding, “How you describe something is how you feel about it. It’s like, if you’re in a bad mood, and you’re describing this room, you’re going to pick out the shadows, where if you’re in a good mood, you’re going to describe the light. You can’t really help but imbue your emotion in whatever you’re describing.”

Fletcher started writing after studying journalism and political science at University of New Mexico. He reported in Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Las Cruces, learning the building blocks of storytelling and the beats nobody wanted, like late night crime and city politics. He wrote profiles and columns for the Orange County Register, and later reported for the Denver alt-weekly, Westword.

But in 2003, Fletcher found himself wanting to write more about his own experience. He completed a master’s program in creative writing at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and spent four years teaching at Virginia Commonwealth University, honing memoirist essays. He arrived in Fort Collins only recently, as a new assistant professor of creative non-fiction writing at CSU, and with the publication of his second memoir this year, Fletcher senses his life has come full circle. He has returned West, living and working among artists again, who stretch his conceptions of the world like his mother and uncle once did. “He’s a wonderful storyteller, and his heritage definitely comes through in the rhythm, the lyricism,” said his former editor at Westword, Patricia Calhoun. 

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