Saturday, February 21, 2004

Jerry Martien

Poets have a lot of latitude when it comes to the role they play in a culture. They can chronicle or comment, entertain or enlighten or simply bear witness to the slice of time they occupy. Jerry Martien does all these things. An environmental and political activist in the Humboldt Region of Northern California for thirty years, he has labored as a carpenter, editor, teacher and board member of several organizations. He has taught creative writing and nature writing for the past seven years at Humboldt State University. His published work includes Shell Game, described as A True Account of Beads and Money in North America, and a collection of poetry, Pieces in Place.

Pieces in Place is a collection of poems that are best described in the opening lines of Martien's essay, "A Defense of Poetry (Is a Defense of Place:)"

"The poem arises from the ground of its making. By way of a human attention, deliberately placed there-- held there, till it is shaped by the rule of that ground. ... The poem surrounds us. The poet loiters deliberately in the dooryard, maintaining cultural access to that nourishing circumstance. Speaks on behalf of the still-living, still sacred grove, and labors to restore the springs to which we all go when thirsty."

Please welcome Jerry Martien

Jennie Shortridge

JENNIE SHORTRIDGE was a plumber, cook, rock-and-roll singer, corporate marketing executive and freelance writer before tackling the project that has sent her back on the road in 2003--writing the slightly autobiographical adventure novel Riding With The Queen.

"I wanted to write about my beautiful hometown of Denver, and I wanted to write about a musician coming home from the road," explains Shortridge. "I've been a working musician since age 16 and I thought it would be an interesting lifestyle to explore."

Riding With The Queen is about Tallie Beck, a hard-luck gal in her mid-thirties who has made many bad decisions about men and has finally hit the wall in her chosen profession of bar singer. In disgrace, she returns home to Denver, the place she escaped from at age 17. Talli has a bad attitude and continues making bad decisions, but at least she wishes she wouldn't. Out of character, she falls in love with Perry, a man who runs a homeless shelter, and somehow life begins to change for Tallie. Not improve, but change.

With a deft and touching hand, Shortridge creates a funny, sexy, smart and heartbreakingly real protagonist. Talli's relationships rise and fall in response to lies, deceptions and omissions, much the way real life gets in the way of denial. Talli eventually admits she is an alcoholic, commits to a relationship with Perry, is offered a recording contract, and becomes a bar manager. It looks like a happy ending.

Jennie Shortridge now lives in Portland, Oregon and is working on her second novel. "This one is about a freelance food writer with big-time food issues," says Shortridge. "She's losing someone she dearly loves to cancer, dealing with an emotionally distant mother, and trying to unravel the mysteries of her family's secrets while at the same time trying not to eat herself into blimplike proportions. Like Tallie in 'Riding With The Queen,' like many of us, she's on a mission to understand her past so she can move on with her life." Shortridge promises to accompany herself on guitar and sing on February 21, besides reading from her novel.