Saturday, October 20, 2001

Peter Sears

Peter Sears was born in New York, grew up in the East, graduated from Yale and the Iowa Writer's Workshop. He won the 1999 Pergrine Smith Poetry Competition for his book of poems, The Brink. His first book-length collection, Tour,was published in 1987. He has also published four chapbooks of poetry and two teaching books, Secret Writing and Gonna Bake Me a Rainbow Poem. His work has been published in many magazines and literary journals and widely anthologized.

Besides having the reputation of being affable, Peter Sears is an extremely busy guy. He founded and manages the Oregon Literary Coalition and co-founded The Friends of William Stafford. He formerly taught creative writing at Reed College and has since taught for the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis and Clark. At this time, he splits his time between the publishing company Rubberstampmadness Inc. in Corvallis and Community of Writers in Portland.

Peter Sears has a well-earned reputation for promoting the literature of other writers, both from his teaching and time spent with the Oregon Arts commission, but tonight we honor him for his own work.

Rubber Stamp Madness

Pam Houston

Pam Houston is the author of two short story collections, Cowboys Are My Weakness, which won her the 1993 Western States Book Award, Waltzing the Cat, and a memoir, A Little More About Me, and numerous articles.

Pam Houston is also the sort of writer that Hollywood loves. Not only because she tells a good yarn, but because she actually has gone to the trouble and inconvenience of having adventures to write about, rather than just making up a pack of lies, like the rest of us. Hollywood is going to sniff her out. We've been treated to Ernest Hemingway sagas in his minimalist style. We've had to suffer through Hunter S. Thompson's adventures with recreational pharmaceuticals in his paranoid gonzo-journalism style. Norman Maclean's beautiful A River Runs Through It: and Hole in the Sky. The wry coming of age memoir, This Boy's Life by Tobias Wolf. But they're all guys.

Now we've got the chance to see a real woman adventurer at work, a huntress, licensed river guide, horsewoman, skier, mountain trekker and rock-climber, sailor and glider-pilot, a traveler of continents, mountains and rivers. I could say how good her work is, how she uses the back-drop of her experience to explore the rough country of relationships and her own inner journey, but it would take a long time.

From her memoir, A Little More About Me, she says this: "The two best things a writer can be, in my opinion, are honest and brave. In the moments when a writer can be both these things, he or she speaks for every living thing, without trying."