Saturday, November 16, 2002

Dori Appel

DORI APPEL is the author of fourteen full-length plays, nineteen one-acts, shorts and monologues, and more than fifty published poems and stories. Her plays have been produced throughout the United States and internationally, and her poetry and fiction have been featured in dozens of magazines and anthologies including "When I Am an Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple," and "The Best Is Yet To Be," the audio recording of which was a 1997 Grammy finalist.

Dori won the prestigious Oregon Book Award in Drama in 1998, 1999 and 2001. First, for Freud's Girls, a drama in which Freud's secrets are revealed with help from Virginia Woolf and Anais Nin. The second award was for The Lunatic Within, a revue-style comedy/drama about everyday oddities and ordinary madness. And the 2001 Drama Award was for Lost And Found, a series of one-acts related by themes of loss and recovery. The list of awards Dori has won over the plays few years is dizzying.

In August, Dori and Carolyn participated in their first poetry slam. "To our astonishment sixty people showed up at a gallery in Ashland on a Thursday night. And to our further astonishment, I took first place and Carolyn second!"

The dynamic duo just might demonstrate their slam flair in Newport. They for sure will be performing selections from the award-winning The Lunatic Within, and Lost and Found, plus from their co-authored play, Girl Talk.

To learn more about Dori, visit her website at

Saturday, October 19, 2002

Jim Dodge

JIM DODGE is the author of three hilarious cult novels.

Fup is a classic tale about a 20-pound duck who can't fly, Grandaddy Jake Santee who believes he is immortal, and Tiny, whose passion is building fences. The book is now in its twelfth printing and has been translated into 14 languages. Not Fade Away is a rock'n'roll road trip through human nature in a big old car. Stone Junction, a high-flying, free-spirited parable about the powers within us all.

Reading Stone Junction is like being at a non-stop party in celebration of everything that matters.
- Thomas Pynchon.
Dodge has also published five chapbooks of poetry and Rain on the River: New and Selected Poems and Short Prose released by Grove Press in 2002.
While Jim Dodge is internationally known for his fiction, his first and abiding passion is poetry. Diverse, Savvy, Passionate! Anyone who picks this book up has a treat in store!
-Gary Snyder.
Dodge received his M.F.A. in Creative Writing/Poetry from the University of Iowa Writers Workshop in 1969 and has been on the faculty of Art of the Wild, Squaw Valley Writers' Conference, and Sitka Writers' Symposium, and has taught as Artist-in-Residence at the National Science Foundation. Since 1995, he has been Assistant Professor and Director of the Creative Writing Program, Department of English at Humboldt State University.

Freeman House

FREEMAN HOUSE, an environmental organizer and co-founder of two watershed restoration groups, has written a remarkable memoir about human-animal interdependence.

Part lyrical natural history, part social and philosophical manifesto, Totem Salmon: Life Lessons From Another Species, tells the story of a determined band who've worked for over two decades to save one of the last purely native species of salmon in California. The book, called the Zen of salmon restoration, traces the evolution of a Mattole River valley community in Northern California.

Refusing to accept the extinction of their river's wild salmon, a handful of locals (including House) formed the Mattole Watershed Salmon Support Group. Working cooperatively, they began restoring the silt-choked Mattole themselves, building weirs and fish traps to divert salmon as they struggled upstream, and using these captives to propagate and release wild stock in much greater numbers than would be possible in risky riverbed spawning. It was lonely, exhausting work, but the group persisted through mistakes and hard lessons and brought back not only the river's king salmon but also its coho run.

"This wonderful book chronicles the way reverence for wild salmon stitched together a Northcoast California community of loggers, ranchers, hippies, environmentalists and bureaucrats. Its salmon-lore is encyclopedic and the story of the community's growing cohesion has filled me with an abiding joy." Peter Coyote, author of Sleeping Where I Fall.

Freeman House was born in pre-Disneyland Anaheim. He gained his education in economics through his experience as a commercial fisherman and tugboat owner-operator; and in art and social dynamics while running with the counterculture theatrical/political Diggers in sixties San Francisco.

He also attended classes at Oregon State University and the University of California, Berkeley. Freeman House is co-founder of the Mattole Watershed Salmon Support Group and the Mattole Restoration Council. Total Salmon: Life Lessons From Another Species won "Best Non-Fiction Award" from the Bay Area Book Reviewers Association when the book was first issued in 1999. This year, Freeman House was named the 2002 recipient of the Harold Vurster Memorial Award from the National Academy of Arts and Letters for the quality of prose in this book.

Saturday, September 21, 2002

Brenda Peterson

"If landscape is character, then Northwesterners are most like water," writes BRENDA PETERSON in Singing to the Sound.

Brenda Peterson is the author of a staggering array of books including three novels, one of which, Duck And Cover, was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year. Her nonfiction includes Living By Water, Nature and Other Mothers, and Sister Stories. She also co-edited, with Linda Hogan, the highly acclaimed anthologies, Intimate Nature: The Bond Between Women and Animals, a Book-of-the-Month Club/One Spirit and Quality Paperback Club selection, and The Sweet Breathing of Plants: Women Writing on the Green World.

Plus, in the past few months, Sightings: The Gray Whale's Mysterious Journey, was published by National Geographic, and Living By Water was re-issued by Fulcrum Press. Singing To the Sound: Visions of Nature, Animals and Spirit, a sequel to Living By Water, was released by NewSage Press. Her memoir, Build Me An Ark, explores her deep connection with animals and her work for the restoration of wild wolves. Her articles and essays have appeared in the New York Times, Orion, Sierra, and Utne Reader.

Brenda was born in 1950 in the High Sierras of the Pacific Northwest and raised on a national forest lookout station surrounded by a million acres of wilderness. She was an editorial assistant for The New Yorker in the seventies but returned to the northwest and has lived in Seattle, Washington on the shores of Puget Sound for over twenty years.

Linda Hogan

LINDA HOGAN, a descendant of the Chickasaw Nation, grew up in a military family that moved often although most of her childhood was spent in Oklahoma and Colorado. Her books of poetry include Eclipse, Seeing Through the Sun, That Horse a collaboration with her father, and The Book of Medicines which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and winner of the Colorado Book Award. Her novels include Mean Spirit, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and winner of the Oklahoma Book Award for fiction in 1990, and Solar Storms, winner of the Colorado Book Award. Her books of nonfiction include Dwellings, From Women's Experience to Feminist Theology, and the recently released Sightings

co-authored with Brenda Peterson. Linda Hogan is also the author of a textbook on poetry, several plays and numerous essays, mostly on environmental issues.

She is the recipient of the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation for Seeing Through the Sun a Guggenheim grant, a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Oklahoma Book Award for fiction, and the prestigious Lannan Award for outstanding achievement in poetry, an award which may not be applied for. She also won a Five Civilized Tribes Museum Playwriting Award and in July 1998, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Native Writers' Circle of the Americas.

When asked why she writes both fiction and poetry she replied, "With fiction I can take political issues and weave story and character around them. Not enough people read poetry."

Linda has a Masters degree in English and Creative Writing from the University of Colorado and is currently a professor in the English Department at the University of Colorado in Boulder. She served for two years on the National Endowment for the Arts poetry panel, and volunteers in wildlife rehabilitation.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002

Sharon Olds

Our next reader is also a writer of memoir, but not in any conventional sense; you will never see her on Oprah giving you the real lowdown on her family and her relationships. She simply refuses to talk about these things except in her poetry, which has been both hailed and deplored as intimate and pornographic, although I believe erotic is the operative word.

Another operative word is clarity. There is neither pretense nor obfuscation in her work. She does not fall into the trap that so many poets do, namely writing about life events in such a rush of personal imagery that the poems are incomprehensible to the rest of us.

Her words and intent are both entertaining and accessible.

Whether walking through a crowded airport or making love or observing children at her son's birthday, the narrative voice is deft and precise.

I really can't say enough nice things about this writer. She seems to be everything a poet should be. Not surprisingly, she has one of the largest followings of any literary poet in America. Her eight volumes since 1980 sell. Her work has been translated into seven languages for international publication and appears in over one hundred anthologi

es. She teaches poetry workshops at New York University. She was the New York State Poet Laureate from 1998 to 2000. She is just the right height. She doesn't wear make-up. I am honored to introduce her tonight SHARON OLDS.


Saturday, August 17, 2002

Jennifer Lauck

What is memoir? The dictionary defines it initially as "records of facts or events in connection with a particular subject, historical period, etc., as known to the writer or gathered from special sources."

That sounds rather like what history is supposed to be. Trouble is, I can't recall a memoir that fits the description. Memory is subject to bias. There are rarely any 8 X 10 glossies with circles and arrows. On a personal level, I can't think of any incidents mutually agreed upon as historically accurate ever occurring between myself and either of my two ex-wives. I'm sure we were all hoping for the best. I still am, actually.

The second definition is a closer fit, "records ones life experiences." But memoir is not a laundry list of events in one's life. Nor is it a diary. Memoir is organized writing that is meant to make a point. Just like any other good story.

In the case of JENNIFER LAUCK and her two-volume memoir, Blackbird and Still Waters, the point seems to be that spunk may not conquer all, but is an excellent counterpoint to misfortune and adversity. Hers is a Cinderella story, except Fairy Godmother got lost on the way over and Prince Charming didn't show up until several years later. No carriage, no gown, no royal ball, and no glass slipper. Jennifer had to do it all herself. An American Cinderella with attitude.

Which has served her well. Once a grade-school dropout, Jennifer Lauck went on to carve out a prestigious career in broadcast journalism before becoming a wife and mother and the successful author of her two books. She is currently working on a novel.

Saturday, June 15, 2002

Bart Schneider

Bart Schneider is the founding editor of the Hungry Mind Review of Books, now the Ruminator Review, and has written numerous book reviews for periodicals around the country. He edited a collection of essays about the American minority experience and white silence published by Crown called Race: An Anthology in the First Person in 1997. His first novel, Blue Bossa, published by Viking in 1998, was a finalist for The Los Angeles Times Book Prize in First Fiction and won him a $6,000 fellowship from The Minnesota State Arts Board. His newest novel, Secret Love, also by Viking, came out in March of 2001. He is the literary Director of The Loft, the nation's most comprehensive literary center, and was recently elected to the board of the National Book Critics Circle.

You have to be careful reading this story; at first glance it may seem like just another nostalgic look back at the mid-Sixties. Set in the Bay Area, the book touches on a lot of familiar icons: Jazz, Chinatown, Mario Savio, civil rights demonstrations; good old San Francisco as the most liberal city in the country. It's a time of Goldwater, Malcolm X, Cassius Clay and Lenny Bruce. After the Kennedy assassination but before Vietnam and AIDS. There's usually some self-congratulation and self-adulation written into most works by Baby-Boomers about those days, readers innocence times.

The title implies a love story, and there is one; but Schneider's real theme lies in the subtext of his main character's unexplored inner racism. Love doesn't always conquer all, and certainly not this time around.

It's a sad read but a thoughtful one, full of complex characters, with history viewed from a slightly different, if unflattering, perspective.

Saturday, April 20, 2002

The Dolly Ranchers

Almost from the very inception of the Nye Beach Writers Series, in fact, clear back to the time when it was the Yachats Writers Series almost six years and a hundred and twenty-some writers ago, the idea has been kicked around that we should bring some singer-song writers into the mix. After all, even if they often rely on collaboration with back-up singers and musicians and technicians, at the heart of it, singer-song writers start every new composition as writers. Even if they start new work by wandering around the house at 3 a.m. or looking out the window of the car or tour bus or whatever on their way to the next gig, mumbling or humming or whistling, sooner or later they're going to have sit down and actually grind out the words.

Now, Carla's first choice was Bob Dylan. I can just hear him saying: I'm just up here, just me, as plain old Bobby Zimmerman, poet.

We thought we might be able to sell a few tickets. So far, however, Bob's been what can only be termed as unresponsive. In retrospect, it may be a blessing. I'm not sure we have enough room here for all his bodyguards.

And, of course, there was talk of Barry Manilow. I'm not sure we have enough room here for his ego...

So we came down out of the clouds and wound up saying to ourselves, hey, who is new and fresh, with echoes of traditional, wandering troubadour open highway ethos, a dash of grunge, yet cutting edge, alt-country, all-girl with a hobo-jungle, ran-away-and-joined-the-One Railroad Circus of New Mexico, avant-garde twist of wry, Santa Fe impassioned blue-grass, high-plateau honky-tonk, chili pepper energy?

There's only one group like that. Please welcome The Dolly Ranchers...

Ariel Gore

There is a line in an old Jimmy Buffet song that says "we are the people our parents warned us about." We laugh when we hear that because we like being part of the surprise our folks got when they realized what a tactical error they'd made by having children. And so many children. Obviously, if they'd exerted a little more restraint there wouldn't be this population bulge called the Baby Boomers. The Sixties might have just been a calmer, quieter extension of the Fifties. Things might not have gotten so crazy.

So, Jimmy Buffet needs to add another line or so to that song–- to the effect that our children are the unwarned-about people now freaking out our parents even more than we did. Issues that barely got a nod from Baby Boomers way back when are being addressed and politicized and radicalized. One of those issues is teen single motherhood.

ARIEL GORE is the founder of Hip Mama. As a single, teen-age mother, she encountered traditional negative value judgments, guilt and social stigma, but little support or positive information about being a good parent or creating a strong sense of family. Hip Mama was the progressive forum she created to address those concerns. The magazine evolved to represent progressive families of all varieties and gained national recognition. Ariel, who once debated Newt Gingrich on MTV on the subject of single parenthood and welfare, is now a sought-after authority on child-rearing. She recently moved to Portland, the "city with the highest per-capita subscription rate" to Hip Mama. She is the author of The Hip Mama Survival Guide and The Mother Trip.

BEE LAVENDER joined Hip Mama in 1997 as managing editor. Former teen mom, activist and writer, she has launched new projects such as Mamaphonic and Girl-Mom, an online resource for teen parents. Ariel and Lavender are co-editors of Breeder: Real-Life Stories of a Generation of New Mothers, 36 essays from some brave new mamas.

Saturday, March 16, 2002

Suzanne Lummis

One of my favorite quotes comes from a fellow named T.S. Eliot, who once said about writers, "Hacks imitate, artists steal" which, while acknowledging the fact that all new work is connected with what has come before, doesn't define the distinction between artistic plagiarism and artistic recycling.

Obviously, the first is only about a superficial re-rendering of established work, but the second is really about the wholesale theft, absorption and creation of new work from old. West Side Story from Romeo and Juliet.

Nearly every film and pulp Western, Shane, The Magnificent Seven and True Grit, all from the Sixth Century Anglo-Saxon epic, Beowulf.

Tonight we have with us a poet who is not only a fan of T.S. Eliot, but also of Raymond Chandler and fairy tales and the misty, dark, cruel-streets-of-the-city genre known as noir.

Not only Director of the Los Angeles Poetry Festival, actress, playwright, performance artist and founder of the high-spirited, text-driven troupe Nearly Fatal Women, but also a thief in the highest artistic sense, her work and words crisp and not only teeming with irony and humor, wisdom and spirit, but pure magic... mercy... I want to have her baby. (Issue #16) (Spring 2001)

Tom Spanbauer

Featured on June 19, 1998 and March 16, 2002

For me, the term "dangerous writing" conjures up the following: I have a sudden inspiration, a snippet of something flashes through my mind, a line or two that I don't trust myself to remember. I want to get it down on paper before it dissolves, so I start frantically looking for a pen or a pencil and a piece of paper, you know an old lunch sack, an envelope, anything, just to get that fragment jotted down before it leaks out of my brain, and then, the damn pen won't work, or the wax paper sandwich wrapper I found won't take the ink, and just as I find an old collection notice that's perfect, some joker overreacts and honks his horn, though I'm barely straddling the centerline, but the way he's carrying on you'd think I was totally in his lane and we were bound for glory. He waves jovially enough as he passes, but I do notice he's not using all his fingers...

To be honest, that's not what Tom Spanbauer means when he refers to "dangerous writing," also the name of his legendary writing workshops. Rather, he is referring to the act of being honest with oneself on paper. On the surface, that may not seem like a dangerous or even daring act. But it is. When the words one believes to be the truth about oneself are actually written, they take on a power that is no longer exclusively controlled by the writer. The spin that could be applied when the ideas were merely in a person's mind or coming out of a person's mouth melt away. The words lay the heart bare for all to see. Those words become a separate entity, an unflinching, unvarnished document of the self.

Tom Spanbauer writes unflinching, unvarnished novels. It's a tough enterprise to take on, especially when the subject is homosexuality in the over-mythologized Old West, as seen in his 1991 cult classic, The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon. And it apparently doesn't get easier with time or practice. Ten years have passed between books. He says of his recent epic, In the City of Shy Hunters, a fictionalized chronicle of the decimation of gay culture in New York City during the early years of the AIDS epidemic: "Writing this book almost killed me."

Saturday, February 16, 2002

Larry Brooks

You know, the question often comes up: what does a person do after his five-year career in pro-baseball with the Texas Rangers fizzles because of an arm injury, followed only a few years later by the disappointing discovery that he was not really cut out to be a stockbroker, and compounded by seventeen years in the industrial-hype trenches, writing scripts and brochures for an expanding audiovisual production company that catered to the likes of Intel, Hewlett-Packard, Texas Instruments, General Motors, Mercedes-Benz Credit Corporation, Cargill and a slew of other Fortune 1000 firms, steadfastly clawing up the corporate ladder rung by rung to Executive Creative Director and partner in one of the largest corporate communications firms in the west, only to see the firm sold out from beneath him?

Does he become an emotional basket-case, a bar-fly or simply join a monastery? Not on your autographed John Grisham. In the face of incredible odds, he quietly dusts off the old word-processor and writes thrillers. And sells 'em.

Tonight, the Nye Beach Writer's Series presents one of the most currently successful writers in the state. With over 200,000 copies sold of his first novel, Darkness Bound, since publication by Onyx Books in October of 2000, and a second book, Pressure Points, just released by Onyx in December of 2001.

Saturday, January 19, 2002

Chanrithy Him

In making these introductions, I usually try to keep it light. In the case of Chanrithy Him, I won't even make the attempt. She is a survivor of a Twentieth Century event so incredibly insane that there is almost no historical yardstick available to measure it. Hitler killed to exalt a master race. Stalin and Mao Zedong slaughtered all who opposed their extreme communist ideology. The Rwandans and Serbs joyfully butchered their enemies in an explosion of ancient feuds. In a perverted sense, there was almost a certain twisted logic to their viciousness.

Pol Pot and his Khmer Rouge, on the other hand, had almost no perceptible ideology, no plan, no goal, unless it was to destroy an entire culture and people, his own people. He armed the poorest and most ignorant and set about killing the intelligent and educated. Two million people, or about thirty percent of the Cambodian population were slaughtered. The country became a huge prison camp of unchecked disease and suffering, without medicine or industry or an economy or even the suggestion of civilization. A list of occupations available in Cambodia during the years of the Khmer Rouge would be short: demagogue, soldier, informant, slave, corpse.

Chanrithy Him, recounts her grim childhood years in When Broken Glass Floats, Growing up Under the Khmer Rouge, winner of the 2001 Oregon Book Award for Non-fiction. She works as a research associate at Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine, performing work on a long-term study on post-traumatic stress disorder among Cambodian refugees in the U. S. When Broken Glass Floats was also a finalist for the Kiriyama Pacific Rim Book Prize, finalist for the PEN USA West Literary Award, and nominee for the Barnes and Noble Discover Great New Writers Award.

The book is a work of art. Chanrithy Him writes in a plain, forthright style surprisingly free of embellishment and emotion, taking you to a place no sane person would ever willingly go. Yet, you are compelled to turn page after page, fascinated and humbled by the overwhelming strength of character displayed by a remarkable human being trapped in one of the most horrific moments in human history.

U.S. Indochina Educational Foundation