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.