Saturday, November 15, 2008

Walking Bridges

"Walking Bridges" authors featured at November 15 Nye Beach Writers' Series.

Seven contributors to the 70-poet compilation "Walking Bridges Using Poetry as a Compass," were featured on November 15, 2008: Jonah Bornstein, Don Colburn, Cecelia Hagen, Margaret Gish Miller, Rita Ott Ramstad, and Sandra Stone.

Sharon Wood Wortman, co-editor of the book, is also the author of "The Portland Bridge Book," which had its first and second editions published by the Oregon Historical Society Press in 1989 and 2001. "After OHS went out of the business of books, I founded my own press, took out a loan on our house, and published a third edition in 2006," said Wortman. That edition was awarded the 2007 Silver Medal from Independent Publisher. Wortman is also the driving force behind the ongoing "Portland Parks & Outdoor Recreation Bridge Walks" series held since 1991, which evolved into "Poetry and Bridge Walks" in 2006. Wortman is also involved with the 2009 Portland-Vancouver Bridges & Rivers Calendar, a fundraiser for the 100-year birthday celebration of the Hawthorne Bridge planned for 2010. Additional information about her many projects is posted at

Jonah Bornstein was raised in Southern California and received a Master's in creative writing from New York University before moving to Oregon in 1989, where he co-founded the Ashland Writers Conference. His published books include "A Path through Stone" and "Voices from the Siskiyous." His poem, "Night Blooming Men," was nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2000 and two of his poems are included in the nationally acclaimed anthology September 11, 2001, American Writers Respond. His many accolades include the Oregon State Poetry Association Prize and the inaugural Southern Oregon Prize for service to the writing community of the region.

Don Colburn lives in Portland where he is a reporter for The Oregonian. A finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing, he worked for many years at The Washington Post. Colburn became interested in poetry and started writing poems while on a mid-career Knight Fellowship at Stanford University. In 2006, he had two collections of poetry published: His chapbook, "Another Way to Begin," won the Finishing Line Press Prize; and his full-length book, "As If Gravity Were a Theory," won the Cider Press Review Book Award. He has twice been nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Cecelia Hagen grew up Norfolk, Virginia, and studied writing and dance at Connecticut College, later receiving a Master's of fine arts in poetry from the University of Oregon. Her work has been published in many national magazines, and in 2007, Passager magazine in Baltimore chose her as its poet of the year. Presently, Hagen teaches memoir writing and coordinates the monthly Windfall Reading Series for the Lane Literary Guild in Eugene.

Margaret Gish Miller was born in Palo Alto, California and now lives in the Willamette Valley where she is a retired English teacher. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and she has received awards from New Millennium Writings and The Writers Digest.

Rita Ott Ramstad's first book, "The Play of Dark and Light," won the 2003 Stafford-Hall Award for Poetry at the Oregon Book Awards; and her poem "Night Beach" traveled on Portland's TriMet buses and MAX trains as part of Poetry in Motion, a campaign that showcases the work of local and national poets on transit vehicles. She teaches English at the Center for Advanced Learning, a charter high school in Gresham.

Sandra Stone is the 2007 winner of the Dana Award in poetry, which is presented to an under-recognized American poet for mastery of craft, inventive use of language, and substance. Her first collection of poems, "Cocktails with Breughel at the Museum Cafe," was selected in the Cleveland State University annual manuscript competition. The following year, "Cafe" received an Oregon Book Award. Stone's work has appeared in numerous national publications and in several anthologies.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Donna & Bonnie Henderson

Intro by Marianne Klekacz:

In 1995, Bonnie Henderson joined CoastWatch and adopted a mile-long stretch of beach known as Mile 157 between the Siuslaw and Umpqua river outlets to the Pacific Ocean.

On her regular patrols of "her" beach, she became intrigued by the variety of detritus washed up onto the shore. Her discoveries included glass fishing floats, brand new athletic shoes, dead birds, a dead whale, a half-buried shipwreck, and a "mermaid's purse" (If you're wondering what that is, you'll have to read her book, "Strand" to find out).

She began to try to track the debris back to its source. Her curiosity led her to Washington and ultimately to Japan and China. Along the way she learned that the Japanese call our treasured glass floats "gomi" (junk) and are amused that we collect them. She learned about the movements of sand along the shore, the intricacies of trans-Pacific container shipping, and the devastation that can result when oil is spilled into the ocean.

She then set what she had learned down into a book, "Strand." It's a fascinating read.

Please welcome Bonnie Henderson.

Airlie poet Donna Henderson is a busy woman. She is a mixed media artist, a licensed clinical social worker, has a private practice in psychotherapy, teaches at Western Oregon University, has published two chapbooks (one of which was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award in 1997), and will be publishing a full-length collection of poems, "The Eddy Fence," in 2009. She is widely published in journals and anthologies and teaches poetry workshops at The Attic in Portland.

It seems to me that Donna uses the imagery of lyric poetry to explore questions raised by other areas of her life. Her poetry tackles posers like the nature of death and identity. Her poetry is fluid and musical, and she often performs it to musical accompaniment.

Please welcome Donna Henderson.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Tim Sproul

TIM SPROUL was born and raised in Newport and graduated from Newport High. He received a Bachelor's degree in journalism and a Master's in creative writing, both from the University of Oregon. Sproul now resides in Milwaukie, Oregon, where his day job is creative director at Avenue A/Razorfish International Advertising Agency.

Sproul's formative years took place near Newport's Nye Beach. His father, a career Naval officer, supported the family by spending as much -- if not more -- time deployed at sea as he did at home.

His poem, 66 Days at Sea, captures a perspective that mirrors the childhood experiences of many commercial fishermen's sons and daughters:
With one small suitcase and a half-salute to the wind, my father steps onto the ship's gangplank and out of our lives ... We fall back to who we think we are -- tough beach kids who never go to the beach... I learn the language of loss in our eyes... we suffer this house and its various empties... time doesn't pass, it enters us.

Willy Vlautin

Novelist and musician WILLY VLAUTIN splits his time between writing novels and performing as lead singer-songwriter for the Portland-based urban country music band Richmond Fontaine. He is a native of Reno, Nevada, the backdrop against which he set his novels "The Motel Life," published in 2007, and "Northline," published earlier this year.

"The Motel Life" follows the lot of two brothers whose lives go from bad to abominable when one of them flees a hit and run accident while under the influence. The novel received national recognition as a New York Times Book Review Editor's Choice and was named a Top 25 Books of 2007 selection by the Washington Post. The Oregonian named the novel among the 2007 Top Ten Books of the Northwest. Vlautin's second novel, "Northline," is the story of Allison Johnson, a young, pregnant woman who leaves her abusive neo-Nazi boyfriend, goes to Reno and tries out a new life. The book comes with an instrumental soundtrack composed and performed by Vlautin and other members of the band, so you can listen as you read the book. "Northline" was optioned by Sharp Entertainment for a possible movie deal.

To learn more about Willy Vlautin visit his website at

Friday, July 18, 2008

Derrick Jensen

Do you believe this culture is going to undergo a voluntary transformation to a sane and sustainable way of living? If you don't, and you care -- what do you do? asks Derrick Jensen.
Writers On The Edge presents an illuminating evening with writer, lecturer, social scientist, and grassroots environmentalist Derrick Jensen at the next Nye Beach Writers' Series event, Saturday July 19. The event begins at 7 p.m. at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center, Visitor's Center Auditorium, located at 2020 SE Marine Science Drive in the South Beach area of Newport. Admission is $10 at the door; no advance sales. Students admitted free.

Jensen's writings explore the nature of balanced ecological sustainability -- beyond which type of light bulb people buy or whether they recycle their plastic water bottles. True sustainability, he says, resides in creating a social and economic system that exists in balance with the surrounding ecosystem. "The needs of the natural world are more important than the needs of the economic system."

Jensen's two-volume non-fiction work Endgame, earned him the title of 2006 Person of the Year, an honor presented by Press Action, an online publication of news analysis and commentary. Press Action declared the work "the best nonfiction in 2006."

Jensen's diverse writings also include:
  • A Language Older than Words
  • The Culture of Make Believe
  • Listening to the Land: Conversations about Nature, Culture, and Eros, Railroads and Clearcuts
  • Strangely Like War: The Global Assault on Forests
Other collaborative works include:
  • Welcome to the Machine: Science, Surveillance, and the Culture of Control
  • Walking on Water: Reading, Writing and Revolution (which highlights the natural desire to learn juxtaposed against social structures that eradicate the individual creative process)
  • Thought to Exist in the Wild: Awakening from the Nightmare of Zoos

Jensen holds a bachelor of science degree in mineral engineering physics from the Colorado School of Mines, and a master of fine arts degree in creative writing from Eastern Washington University. He lives on the coast of northern California.

A great deal more information about Derrick Jensen is posted online at

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Jan Baross

This heartfelt debut is a cinematic vision, a wonderfully entertaining, accessible story that is sure to win over critics and readers of contemporary fiction.

First place for fiction in the national Kay Snow Literary Awards.

JOSE BUILDS A WOMAN is written in the sensual tradition of magical realism. With lush prose and dry humor, Baross captures the fluid boundaries between life and death. The multi-layered saga revolves around the impenetrable passions of Tortugina, the doyenne of bad love, Gabito, the beautiful and jealous octopus diver and their son, Jose, a boy obsessed with marrying a nun.

The book's vibrant front cover is from a painting by Baross.

"Mexico has a magical draw that I can't explain any more than how the mother and son saga in Jose'' Builds A Woman began flowing out of me one rainy day," said Baross. "Being in Mexico inspired the kind of writing I didn't know I could do. It is very Latin."

What a romp. Let Baross take you for a wild ride on her magical-realism camel from the village of Octopus to the village of The Women through an extravagantly carnal Mexico of the imagination.
Ursula K. Le Guin
Jose Builds a Woman is one of the most magical and beautiful and honest novels about men and women, lovers, mothers and sons, about life and death, that you'll ever be privileged to read. Baross has a gift for tender beauty on the page. I can't remember when I last enjoyed a book this much
Molly Gloss, author of Jump Off Creek
Baross writes with a big beautiful new voice, exuberant and full of gritty earth and bright skies. Tortugina is a heroine for the ages-her story is about a commitment to love and honor and self-respect against all odds and along the way it's a wild trip to the Mexico of our dark northern dreams. At the end, you not only want to cheer for Tortugina, you want to stay.
Joanna Rose, author of Little Miss Strange
Sexy, enchanting, funny and well-told, Jan Baross spins a marvelous tale filled with fantasy and passion. I loved it.
Iris Rainer Dart, author of Beaches
...this book is about love, many kinds of love, and just by reading it, cracks in your heart will heal.
—Carla Perry

To learn more about Jan Baross, visit her website at

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Jeff DeMark

The majority of the 240 writers presented by the Nye Beach Writers' Series have stood behind a lectern and read a little and talked a little, with the emphasis on the writing itself. We've been blessed with good readers and excellent readers and so-so readers; but only with a smattering of actual PERFORMERS, most notably the Dolly Ranchers, Three Guys From Albany, Jeff Meyers, Vaudevillinous Poets, Bill Joe Shaver and Zoa Smith. We are pleased then, to have with us tonight a writer and performer who has been a surprise and delight to audiences all over the country.

A man of many experiences and occupations, from factory-worker to cab-driver, substitute English teacher to ad-salesman for the San Francisco Giants and now working in the development department of public radio affiliate KHSU at Humboldt State University, Jeff DeMark transforms personal history into solo performance. He draws from various stages of his life in his four acclaimed pieces: "Writing My Way Out of Adolescence," "Went To Lunch, Never Returned," "Making Every Mistake Twice," and most recently, "Hard As A Diamond, Soft As The Dirt.

Viewers who watched the opening episodes of Carnivale on HBO would likely remember the gritty close-up of one of the main characters who happens to be a dwarf with a large, extraordinarily shaped head, who looked directly into the camera and delivered a pro forma, mock-profound monologue in Biblical tones assuring and reminding us that yes, Virginia, there is a great struggle between good and evil that rocks our world on a regular basis. And here I thought everything could be taken care of if we all just did our patriotic bit and went shopping. It's really somewhat of a disappointment. My own personal experience on the planet has taught me that most folks have very little time to struggle with the forces of good and evil. 99.99 percent of the time we're concerned with working, paying the bills and figuring out how to satisfy our emotional needs.

We don't have a big-headed dwarf to set us straight with the good and evil thing, but we do have Jeff DeMark to present the highlights of his struggle with work and love.

To learn more about Jeff visit his website at

Introduction by Marianne Klekacz
Photo by Carla Perry

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Elinor Langer

On November 12, 1988, a group of Portland, Oregon, skinheads known as East Side White Pride encountered three Ethiopians in a street fight, resulting in the brutal death of Mulugeta Seraw. A year later, Ken Mieske ended up pleading guilty to first degree murder. The other two, Kyle Brewster and Steve Strasser, pled guilty to manslaughter and assault.

Langer originally agreed to cover the skinheads’ trial for “The Nation,” but the accused bargained their way to prison; no trial was ever held. Research for her book began after she persuaded “The Nation” to run a special issue in 1990 on the murder and the neo-Nazi movement. Langer saw a link between the three men who beat Seraw to death, The Branch Davidian conflagration in 1993 and the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh in 1995.

Elinor Langer’s book about the incident, “A Hundred Little Hitlers,” vividly reconstructs the world of the skinheads: their origins in the punk scene, their basement shrines to Nazi power, their moments of glory on Oprah and Geraldo. She examines the long-standing radical groups that encouraged the movement, tracking the progress of such powerful figures as White Aryan Resistance leader Tom Metzger through key bastions of the Far Right. In gripping detail, she follows civil-rights lawyer Morris Dees's efforts to prove Metzger responsible for the Portland killing.

“One of the skinheads lived near me,” explained Langer. “I had a babysitter whose boyfriend played in a band with one of them, and the other had been homecoming king at Grant High School.” Langer hoped her book would serve as a catalyst for debate and further research.

Langer has been a contributor to national publications since the 1960s, including The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Book Review, Mother Jones, and The Nation. Her biography of the American radical novelist and journalist Josephine Herbst was nominated for the National Book Critics Circle award. She has received several fellowships, including the Guggenheim, Bunting, and the Open Society Institute. Besides teaching at Reed, she has taught writing at Portland State University and at the Mountain Writers-Pacific MFA Program.

Photo by Carla Perry

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Jack Hart

Jack Hart, began work at “The Oregonian” as a reporter, arts and leisure editor, and Sunday Magazine editor, before becoming a training editor and managing editor. He holds a University of Wisconsin doctorate in Mass Communications and has taught at five universities. Hart is a frequent lecturer at Harvard’s prestigious Nieman Conference on Narrative Journalism.

Jack Hart is also the author of A Writer’s Coach: An Editor’s Guide to Words That Work, released as a Pantheon hardback in 2006 and as a Vintage Books paperback in 2007. “A Writer’s Coach” is Hart’s effort to make writing less painful for the rest of us. The book can help any writer learn the tricks and habits of good writers.

“Just about everybody agrees that good writing is tight, that it’s forceful,” Hart explains. “Good writing incorporates lively verbs and clean syntax. It’s colorful. It includes descriptive elements that can put you in the scene. It’s rhythmic. ” Developing a process to get you there is not some closely guarded mystery, Hart explains, but the step-by-step conquest of craft.

Introduction by Marianne Klekacz ;
"On my desk most days is my favorite teacup of the moment. It carries the following inscription: “A professional writer is an amateur who didn’t quit.” I like it because it reminds me that writing is darned hard work.

Tonight’s featured writer is definitely a professional. After decades in journalism, he’s compiled the knowledge he gathered as a writer and editor into A Writer’s Coach: The Complete Guide to Writing Strategies That Work.

Jack maintains that good writing can dance. His book is not your standard “how-to” manual but rather a comprehensive discussion of what it takes to get better and better, to become part of the continuous conversation that is literature. It’s earned a favored place on my bookshelf, right next to the “little White book,” Strunk and White’s Elements of Style.

Behind every great writer is a great editor. But until you can afford to hire a great editor, you need to develop those editorial skills yourself. A Writer’s Coach is a great place to start. Its discussions of brevity, clarity, rhythm, and connecting to other humans will help you look at your work with a clearer eye.

Jack doesn’t neglect the “no-noes” either. A Writer’s Coach also provides some choice advice about creeping nouns and passive verb constructions, dangling modifiers, the dreaded adverb, and hackneyed language and clich├ęs.

This is a book that will enrich your writing and your pleasure in reading.
So let the dance begin. Please join me in welcoming Jack Hart."

Photo by Carla Perry