Pacific University’s Free Public Readings This Week

Pacific University’s MFA in Writing Program hosts faculty-authors for free public readings this week in Forest Grove, Oregon, at the university’s Taylor-Meade Performing Arts Center. Three different authors read each evening from their own work, all teachers at the residency program. Each evening is different and a diverse example of some of the finest writing today.

The schedule features:
June 17 | Judy Blunt, Claire Davis & Dorianne Laux
June 18 | Kwame Dawes, Jack Driscoll, & Laura Hendrie
June 19 | Sandra Alcosser, Pete Fromm, & Craig Lesley
June 20 | Valerie Laken, Mike Magnuson, & Joseph Millar
June 22 | Marvin Bell, Mary Helen Stefaniak, & Kellie Wells
June 23 | Steve Amick, Eduardo Corral, & Scott Korb
June 24 | Chris Abani, Ellen Bass, & Debra Gwartney


The Writing Exercise Instructor

So what do you do when the prompt of the day to write a 100 word sentence gives you lemons? What I do is not make lemonade, but rather to pick on the teacher. This is my complex sentence:

At the beginning of the class, she said to simply write a single sentence of 100 words, she then paused after her bold statement, with a wry smile and her signature dancing eyes behind those modern style corrective lenses, highlighted the teacher, the do-er, the know-er requesting a task from the writing group staggered around the make-shift tables, her contained zest for the mere notion of the writing prompt danced about visibly thus belying the fact her ideas could not stay internal as she said to the group to go start writing before she bowed her head to her computer terminal and began her own exploration of just what the writing prompt meant to her.

118 Words

Portland WordStock November 7, 2015

WordStock, Portland’s Book Festival, is a one-day event at the Portland Art Museum on Saturday, November 7, 2015. Tickets are available now for $15 and includes admission to the Art Museum and a $5 voucher to spend at the extensive book fair.

Over 80 authors will be present offering writing tips and techniques in all genres. According to the press release (PDF), “There will be conversations between Cheryl Strayed and Diana Nyad; Jon Krakauer and Barry Lopez; Tom Spanbauer and Chuck Palahniuk. There will be interviews with Wendell Pierce, Sandra Cisneros, John Irving, and Stacy Schiff; and panel discussions on topics as wide-ranging as unconventional histories, accidental families, paranormal YA, and so much more.”

A series of writing workshops are also available during the event for an addition fee. They include storytelling, poetry, scene writing, editing, humor, and other topics.

The Bookmark Ball is the opening night celebration held the night before as a fundraiser and social gathering with music. Tickets start at $35 for this special event for the Portland literati.

Christina Abt Speaking at Writers in the Grove August 10

Christina Abt, author of Crown Hill and contributor to many anthologies and collections including Chicken Soup books, will be speaking at Writer’s in the Grove’s Monday workshop on August 10, 2015, from 9-11AM at the Forest Grove Senior and Community Center in Forest Grove, Oregon. She will be speaking about the changes in the publishing industry and how to get your book published. She will also be on a book tour with Barnes and Nobel throughout the Pacific Northwest and the country in general.


Inspired by a prompt on where you find your inspiration, Writers in the Grove member, Diana Kay Lubarsky wrote the following.

Where do I go to find inspiration for my writing? Good question.

When seeking inspiration I tend to go to the darker corners of my life. The black hole of unresolved issues, unwiped tears, fears and longings, or embarrassing situations. Old thoughts, long forgotten memories gleefully swim to the surface of my mind eager to be set free. Surprisingly, not all of the stories emerge as sad. Moments of social maladjustment often morph into humorous ditties. Like the one about my husband’s cane. (After years of yelling at my husband to use his cane he finally picked it up only to use it as a pointer and promptly knocked over a prized vase.)

My writing takes two forms … that which I share, and that which I don’t. I’ve never categorized it like that before, but it is true. The writing I do not share is comparable to a child’s temper tantrum, filled with the angst of not getting my own way. While that which I do share tends to be kinder and more tolerant and encouraging. But always, the inspiration comes from within.

Surrounded now by kindred writers every Monday morning in the ivory covered halls of the Forest Grove Senior Center, I am learning how others seek inspiration from the outer world, which I find fascinating. This wonderful group share the most marvelous inspirational tales … about Rosemary’s turtles, and Beverly’s flush toilets, from Susan’s farm happenings to Lorelle’s imaginings. I am learning to look outward.

Perhaps someday soon I will be inspired by buttercups smiling in the field. But for today the inner images still sing most loudly in my head.

DKL 6/8/15

Writer’s Groups and Activities in Albany, Salem, and Corvallis, Oregon

A dear friend in our writer’s group is about to leave us to move with her husband to Albany, Oregon. To give her a good send off and encourage her to keep writing (and come back and visit often), we did a little research and found the following writing groups in the Albany, Oregon area, which includes Corvallis, Eugene, and Salem. If you can’t make it to Forest Grove, Oregon, we encourage you to do some research and join a group close to you.

Writing Group

According to Ronald Borst, a journalist and writer, the Albany Writer’s Network has been meeting for over twenty years once a month. The Albany Democrat-herald local newspaper reports they meet the fourth Wednesday of the month at the Fire Station 13 from 7-9pm at 1980 Three Lakes Drive behind Home Depot, and offer a phone number for more information.

Writers on the River in Corvallis, Oregon, are part of the Willamette Writers Association and meets in Corvallis the third Monday of the month from 6:30-8:30pm. They have some great topics coming up with some fun speakers. They also host a variety of annual events and readings.

Magic Barrel, an annual literary fundraiser and authors event in Corvallis brings together authors to read fiction, non-fiction, and poetry among music, food, wine, and a determination to change the world. The event, A Reading to Fight Hunger, raises money for the Linn Benton Food Share program.

In Salem, the Salem Willamette Writers group also has great speakers and events. They meet the second Wednesday of the month except in summer from 6:30-8:30 in the Salem Library. You can keep up with them on Facebook, too.

Eugene Poetry Society is a fairly new group and they are determined to keep the poetry alive.

Writer’s Coffee Talk in Eugene meets every Tuesday Morning at the Valley River Inn to talk about the craft of writing.

Our group has been learning about blogging and held some blogging fundraisers recently, and there is a new Salem WordPress Meetup group that meets monthly to keep the learning going with great speakers, work sessions, and a chance to learn from other WordPress users in the area.

Let’s not forget the fabulous The Graduate Writing Center at Oregon State University. There are a wide range of programs, brown-bag talks, and group workshops on professional writing and writing studies.

We wish our friend great joy and happiness, and much writing time, in her new endeavor, and to be surrounded by the best of friends and writers as she has been here.

Edwidge Danticat: Would There Be Poetry Amidst the Haitian Ruins?

OPB Radio’s Literary Arts: The Archive Project featured award winning Haitian American writer Edwidge Danticat speaking about the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti from a 2010 presentation with the Portland Arts and Lectures.

She mentions Haiti’s nickname, terre glissée or “slippery ground,” and expounds on the metaphoric and literal connotations of that phrase. With the devastation still on everyone’s mind, Danticat tells of both her own and her family’s experiences during and after the earthquake, mentioning that her cousin Maxo was killed. She witnessed bodies in the rubble and an “altered human landscape” of so many people with injuries. After the quake, Haitians would simply call it “the thing,” or “the devil dancing,” or even onomatopoeias like “gudugudu.” Referencing several other Haitian writers throughout her lecture, such as Dany Lafferière, Danticat discusses the role of the artist who comes from a place of loss, including the importance of bearing witness.

We’ve been working on writing with all of our scenes, and most recently writing to describe the land. Her vivid and emotional descriptions of the impact of the earthquake, described with spiritual metaphors, poetic grace, destructive similes, and survivor humor, are examples of the diverse ways a writer can not only describe the land, but the impact of the land on the creatures that walk its surface. She comments on the Haitians description of themselves as “We are ugly, but we are here.”

There is poetry often in Haitian language, through proverbs, through the way that we try to interpret tragedy.

…I kept wondering, would there be poetry amidst the Haitian ruins?

…The Angel of Death is more democratic [than God]; everybody goes.

LISTEN: The original 52 minute recording is available at the bottom of Edwidge Danticat – The Archive Project on the Literary Arts Site.