We can’t get enough of your first chapters! That’s why we’ve decided to host another first chapters contest! Voyage wants to see the first chapters of your
We can’t get enough of your first chapters! That’s why we’ve decided to host another first chapters contest! Voyage wants to see the first chapters of your Young Adult novels! It’s no secret that one of the most difficult challenges in writing a book is getting that first chapter right—and we’re asking you to rise to the occasion. Can you write a first chapter that captivates your audience enough to make them want to keep reading? If the answer is yes, then we want to read your first chapter!
Submissions are open through February 28, 2021.
Guest judge, Melissa de la Cruz, will choose three stories from a shortlist.
1st Place winner will receive $3000 and an hour-long consultation with Literary Agent Claire Friedman of Inkwell Management Literary Agency.
2nd Place will receive $300 and publication, and 3rd place $200 and publication.
Finalists will receive written feedback from Literary Agent Claire Friedman.
Bonus: Every entrant will receive access to a pre-recorded mini workshop TBA!
Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters
January 27, 2021
Thursday, January 28 at 5:00 pm Pacific Time. As part of Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles
Presented in partnership with the Library Foundation of Los Angeles
Thursday, January 28
5:00 pm Pacific Time
As part of Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters, the Library Foundation of Los Angeles joins the nationwide celebration of 250 years of African American poetry, on the occasion of the release of the Library of America anthology African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song, edited by Kevin Young. This program will include a special reading of these poems that address questions of identity, race, place, voice, and the richness and diversity of African American poetic imagination.
African American Poetry: 250 Years of Struggle & Song is the centerpiece of Lift Every Voice: Why African American Poetry Matters. Across a turbulent history, from such vital centers as Harlem, Chicago, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and the Bay Area, Black poets created a rich and multifaceted tradition that has been both a reckoning with American realities and an imaginative response to them. Capturing the power and beauty of this diverse tradition in a single indispensable volume, African American Poetry reveals as never before its centrality and its challenge to American poetry and culture.
Bestselling author Dani Shapiro & Albert Flynn DeSilver offer this
Bestselling author Dani Shapiro & Albert Flynn DeSilver offer this ZOOM workshop on March 6 from 10:00AM - 3:00PM. Albert will welcome us, introduce the workshop, and share powerful warm up mindfulness and writing exercises. We will break from 12:00-1:00PM Pacific and then Dani Shapiro will teach on the theme of "secrets & memory" from 1:00-3:00PM Pacific. The sessions will include:
Chabad.org:Lots of Chanukah celebration including recorded songs, videos and galleries.
Editing Insights, Editing Wisdom
Albert Flynn DeSilver
November 11, 2020
You've accumulated pages, perhaps written a first or second draft, you've fiddled, tinkered, poked and prodded, and now what?
You've accumulated pages, perhaps written a first or second draft, you've fiddled, tinkered, poked and prodded, and now what? Join us for a fun and insightful approach to editing. Albert will show you a step-by step efficient process that you can engage with to move you through the editing process with clarity and perseverance. Let's journey together to that place of excitement and joy where we see progress, improvement, transformation, and ultimately completion!
New Artist Relief Program To Provide $1.25 Million To Oregon Artists
Oregon Arts Commission
November 2, 2020
Oregon artists may now apply to a new Artist Relief Program created by the Oregon Arts Commission in partnership with The Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. Awards ranging from
Oregon artists may now apply to a new Artist Relief Program created by the Oregon Arts Commission in partnership with The Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. Awards ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 will be distributed until the program fund, totaling just over $1.25 million, is depleted.
“Without our artists, there would be no art in Oregon,” said Brian Rogers, executive director of the Oregon Arts Commission. “We feel strongly that, in addition to the significant relief we were able to provide to arts and cultural organizations through federal CARES Act funds allocated to the National Endowment for the Arts and the Oregon Cultural Trust, we need to offer relief funding to struggling Oregon artists as well. We are extremely grateful to The Oregon Community Foundation and the Miller Foundation for joining us in that effort.”
The purpose of the Artist Relief Program is to provide relief funding to Oregon artists who have experienced financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic due to cancellations of exhibitions, performances, rehearsals or other activities with a stipend, events, teaching opportunities, book signings or other professional presentation opportunities. Guidelines are now posted on the Arts Commission website.
“In times of crisis, artists help us make sense of our world and stay connected to one another,” said Martha Richards, executive director of the Miller Foundation. “The Miller Foundation stands with Oregon artists in this difficult time because we recognize the critical roles they play in our communities and our lives--they are the foundation of our state’s arts ecosystem.”
“Oregon Community Foundation is thrilled to be a partner in this new Artist Relief program,” added Jerry Tischleder, Oregon Community Foundation’s program officer for arts and culture. “We recognize that independent and freelance artists are vital to the recovery of our communities, bringing hope and inspiration to the world while using their creativity to help process the collective trauma, grief and loss we’ve all experienced in these unprecedented times.”
The program supports professional artists from specific disciplines who have experienced or anticipate experiencing loss of revenue of $1,000 or more between March 1 and Dec. 31, 2020.
The artistic disciplines supported are: Literature (creative non-fiction, fiction, play writing and poetry); dance (including choreography); music (composition and music performance); theatre and performance art; folk and traditional arts; visual arts (crafts, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, mixed media and new media); design arts; and media arts.
Applications are due by 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 10. Awards must be spent by July 31, 2021.
Artists from underserved communities, including (but not limited to) rural communities and communities of color, as well as artists with disabilities, are especially encouraged to apply.
Writer As Fearless Citizen
Albert Flynn DeSilver
September 19, 2020
Join us for this extraordinary benefit writing workshop featuring bestselling writer Cheryl Strayed
Join us for this extraordinary benefit writing workshop featuring bestselling writer Cheryl Strayed where we will explore the role of the writer-citizen in these unprecedented times. This is a full day 10:00-3:30PM (Pacific Time) Writing Workshop with a morning AND afternoon session, including a 1 hour lunch from 12:00-1:00 PM.
The morning session (10:00-12:00) will be hosted by memoirist, novelist, and nonfiction writer, Albert Flynn DeSilver, and include innovative "warm-up" writing exercises, talk and discussion.
The afternoon session from 1:00-3:00PM will feature bestselling writer Cheryl Strayed—author of WILD (memoir), TINY BEAUTIFUL THINGS (nonfiction), TORCH (fiction) Cheryl will be offering innovative writing exercises, a lecture/talk, discussion and Q&A. 3:00-3:30 will be for final sharing and closing remarks.
A minimum 25% of net profit proceeds will benefit the Black Lives Matter movement via the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.
Lane Arts Council (LAC) is seeking a dynamic visionary leader from among our Arts family to head up our successful nonprofit.
Lane Arts Council (LAC) is seeking a dynamic visionary leader from among our Arts family to head up our successful nonprofit. Founded in 1976 to strengthen and support the arts throughout Lane County, we cultivate strong and creative arts communities by providing high-quality arts experiences, engaging people of all ages in arts education, and encouraging artistic endeavors. The new Executive Director will be a passionate, credible and articulate advocate for our mission, will thrive in a collaborative team environment and will be able to take direction from the Board of Directors.
If, in the past five years, you have been a
• LAC board member or on a board committee
• LAC staff member, a LAC contractor
• LAC volunteer or a LAC donor
and you are
• passionate about the arts and our mission
• action-oriented, entrepreneurial, and self-directed
• an experienced manager, leader and strategic visionary
• experienced in marketing, public relations, and fundraising
• able to engage in a wide range of stakeholders and cultures
and you want to
• work collaboratively with like-minded staff and volunteers
• promote art, support and serve artists and foster art education in Lane County,
Please visit our website at www.lanearts.org/employment to view the full Executive Director job description. This is an internal search and applications will only be accepted from those who have been involved in the Lane Arts Council in the past five years, as indicated above.
To apply, please follow carefully the instructions on our website under the Employment tab in the About section to submit your application only to the email address indicated. Applications close Friday, 10/2/2020.
Six Steps to Submission
April 13, 2020
Now is a great time to pull out your recent poems or prose and submit them for publishing.
Now is a great time to pull out your recent poems or prose and submit them for publishing. This article will offer a few tips for getting that done. You’ll discover your own submission tricks as you go. The main thing is to get started.
First, figure out why you want to publish so that you use your time in a satisfying way. Starting with that basic understanding will also help guide you in where to seek being published. Remember, you don’t have to publish to be a writer. Here is one perspective on what it means to be a writer.
The second task is to go to Submittable and set up an account. Submittable accounts are free. Take a break from reading this, follow the link and go set up the account now.
Once signed in, you’ll see lists of periodicals, online journals and contests to submit to, plus deadlines and costs if those apply. Right away, you have breadcrumbs to follow. Pat yourself on the back for completing a step that opens up leads to follow and readies you for submission.
Now, consider some strategies employed by three local writers, Joy McDowell, Michael Hanner and Keli Osborn, in order to tackle the next steps. Michael Hanner creates generic tools for submission in advance. He writes a very short generic cover letter with a bio. Watch this website as we plan to offer a bio workshop soon. His letter includes a space for the names of the poems being submitted, that they are all unpublished and a thanks, plus the bio.
He also separates published poems from unpublished poems and keeps a record of where he sends poems and what the eventual result of the submission was. He creates several volumes within the unpublished poems of pieces appropriate for submission. Those volumes may be sorted by theme or tone making it quicker to select what to submit depending on the target of submission, what they are asking for and what their published works look like.
Spend some time today creating your generic letter and bio, and doing an initial sort of your pieces to create at least on volume of submittable work. You have completed the third step.
The fourth step is creating a list of potential submission sites. Joy McDowell pays careful attention to fellow poets when they succeed in having a poem or book published. She writes down the names of the journals in which fellow poets have poems published. When a local writer publishes a book, she notes the journals the author lists as having published his or her work. These names go into a file for researching later. Michael looks through volumes of The Best American Poetry series (Powell’s City of Books has them). He then focuses on where poets he likes are published to generate a list of possible submission sites.
Michael also prefers sites that allow simultaneous submission. Of course, Submittable also has those long lists of potential submission sites that you should be looking through.
Michael prefers to submit to sites that publish on paper. Which brings up a thought from Keli Osborn who says to consider “what publication looks like to you. There is a wide range in format, reach, and quality.” Before you submit, take a moment to look at the paper or online publication. Keli suggests you consider the care taken in editing, as well as look and feel, and writing selection. If you’re into burnishing your credits, you might examine your perception of the publication’s stature. (Start at the beginning again: why do you want to be published?) Think also about how submitting and publishing can be wonderful ways of building relationships with editors, other writers and readers/listeners.
Keli also recommends Trish Hopkinson’s website(poetry). It’s loaded with ideas and submission possibilities as well as offering a way to sign up for email updates. New Pages has more information on publications and contests for poets and prose writers.
The fifth step is to prepare one or more submissions. Select one or more journals, publishers or contests. Then select your work most appropriate for those selections. Adapt your cover letter with date, name of target and name of pieces being attached. Prepare you pieces anonymously, scrupulously following the instructions offered. Then, submit and don’t forget to make a record of the submission.
The last step is to wait for the response. Understand that you will receive many more rejections than acceptances. However, the more submissions you make, the higher the odds you will be accepted somewhere. So, get out there and get it done!
Stay Homa Trio
April 2, 2020
These Barcelona roommates are making music about our "confination."
These Barcelona roommates are making music about our "confination." Check them out on YouTube and start smiling. They have 14 songs so far under the name Stay Homas.
Ugandan Musician-Turned-Politician Bobi Wine Releases Coronavirus PSA Song
Bobi Wine, Ugandan muscian, has contributed this PSA about coronavirus. A great example of using art for community.
CANCELLED DUE TO CORONAVIRUS Hank Alley Offers Lecture at the Baker Center
March 7, 2020
Hank Alley will give a lecture, "D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow: The Evolution and Censorship of a Novel of Marriage" at the Baker Center
On Tuesday March 17, Hank Alley will give a lecture, "D.H. Lawrence's The Rainbow: The Evolution and Censorship of a Novel of Marriage." The time is 2-3 PM at the Baker Center in downtown Eugene (975 High Street).
Published in 1915, The Rainbow was perhaps the last novel in English to provide a comprehensive overview of social change as embodied in rich, complex characters. Ironically, the book was seized by the London police and burned as obscene when it first appeared.
The lecture will be the gateway to Alley's seminar in the Insight Program, The Modern Novel of Marriage, offered in the Browsing Room of the UO Knight Library every Saturday in April, 9:30 AM-Noon. You may register for the course or learn more by clicking on the link below.
Friends and family of Karen Locke (1945-2018) gathered at Eugene’s Tsunami Books on Sunday, January 12. A stellar line-up of local poets, including Laura LeHew, Jenny Root, Quinton Hallett, Ingrid Wendt,
Friends and family of Karen Locke (1945-2018) gathered at Eugene’s Tsunami Books on Sunday, January 12. A stellar line-up of local poets, including Laura LeHew, Jenny Root, Quinton Hallett, Ingrid Wendt, and Keli Osborn, read tributes to Ms. Locke, which included some of her own poetry. After the reading, friends and family members shared their memories.
Jenny Root recalled the time when she was in a critique group with Ms. Locke. “Her poems consistently knocked me out. One I remember distinctly brought tears to my eyes and choked me up when I was responding to it. I wrote lines in my notebook so I could remember the poem. It describes a couple on a drive along the Alsea River, looking up words in a dictionary, such as ‘meadow’ and ‘field,’ ‘fog’ and ‘mist.’ But she uses those words in her own love story:
when a meadow and not a field
let it be our meadow
if fog and not mist, let it be
fog pearled on your arm.”
Karen Locke “wrote with wit and verve, but with a keen eye for observation and a sense of justice about the world,” Jenny Root continued. “I was always touched by her sensitive responses to my work, and her kindness and curiosity generally. We were planning on getting together more often just before she died so suddenly, and I'm sorry I didn't get the chance for more of her company. Cool lady."
Karen Locke was born in 1945 in Menlo Park, CA. She came to Oregon in 1970, where she earned a BA and MFA from the University of Oregon. In 1980, she began teaching composition at Lane Community College, eventually becoming Comp Department Coordinator. Many in attendance remembered her generosity, whether in giving teaching jobs to fellow writers or her encouragement in the various writers groups she took part in.
A mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother, Karen’s kindness and sense of humor endeared her to her friends and family. She was also a poetry editor for the Northwest Review. She lived in Eugene for nearly 50 years.
By Karen Locke
Early October, it begins. Down the round brown hills
of Paso Robles, off balmy beaches at Santa Cruz, out of San Francisco
fog, over Mendocino hills and Sonoma vineyards, ghosts
trudge up the coast to this green valley where firs boughs fly
in gusty wind and slant rain.
Ghosts glide by: mother, sisters, husbands, friend after friend,
too many to count this cruel October, and here comes death
like the year before and the year before that, toehold in the door
all month and into November. So what do you want to know,
Mr. Death? Whether I still believe in something?
People exist and then they do not. This day yellow and brown leaves rattle
to the hard ground: no crimson, bronze, gold to behold. A red
button mushroom sprouts from a small hollow in the vine maple.
Warblers return to harvest insects from gray lichen.
This night a lunar eclipse.
First printed in Penumbra, 2017
Eugene Weekly's Winter Reading Issue
December 17, 2019
The Winter Reading issue of the Eugene Weekly is out
The Winter Reading issue of the Eugene Weekly is out and around town, and there are scores of reviews (but only one of a book of poems at the very end). Local authors listed include Dan Armstrong, Alice Tallmadge, and Erika Hernandez. Local bookstores include their list of top ten books, and the listings are quite varied. As of this writing the issue will soon be replaced by the next one, but you can still get the book reviews online.
Daryll Lynne Evans of Wordcrafters
October 26, 2019
Originally from Colorado, with a Perdue MFA in Fiction, Daryll Lynne described her own writing in this way, "In school I worked with a theater company and wrote a few plays
On September 25, 2019, I met with Daryll Lynne Evans, Executive Director of Wordcrafters in their new home, upstairs at 425 Lincoln Street. She met me at the door, invited me up for tea, a sweet chocolate treat and conversation. The space is large. "This feels like a beautiful artists' loft," I was thinking.
Originally from Colorado, with a Perdue MFA in Fiction, Daryll Lynne described her own writing in this way, "In school I worked with a theater company and wrote a few plays there, but my true love early on was fiction, novels, and actually Sci-fi and Fantasy. But then I focused in on fiction, though I have done some screen writing. I'm kind of all over the board."
Having come to Eugene in 2009 for family connection, she had the desire to become part of our literary community and also to take part in the Writers in the Schools (WITS) Program, a loose National Alliance based in Houston. A Register-Guard article about a new Eugene organization, Wordcrafters, caught her attention, and the very next day, by coincidence, she met Patricia Marshall, whom she'd read about in the article. "I just basically threw myself at her and said, 'Please let me play.' " From the beginning two of Wordcrafters' major focuses were Youth and Social Justice, a perfect fit for Daryll Lynne, who had already been involved with WITS elsewhere.
Eugene's Wordcrafters received a grant from Meyer Memorial Trust to create a WITS pilot program that developed into a residency series and has been going for several years now. "Our goal with WITS is to work with primarily disadvantaged youth ...We want to ensure that they have access to an arts experience." Wordcrafters worked with a few high schools over the years, including Thurston, and most recently, Kalapuya, an alternative high school in the Bethel district for students who aren’t succeeding in the traditional classroom. And, in connection with the Lane County Youth Services, they hold workshops for youth in detention.
Describing a school residency, she said, " We have a writer go in once a week for eight weeks, taking students through the whole writing process from initial ideas to polished pieces. We then produce an anthology of student work and take it back in and have a class reading." Recently they had a martial arts expert and a psychologist come into the detention center and talk about such things as what it's like to be in the middle of real action, and how do you translate that into a story? She showed me a few of their anthologies, including one that focused around a famous series of photographs of gangs from the 1950s. The students had written stories based on those photos.
Phoenix, Arizona's National spoken-word poet, rapper and teaching artist, Merlin Hepworth has become a Wordcrafters residency "regular." For a week every year he arrives in Eugene, and "He is just magic!" smiles Daryll Lynne. "He comes into a classroom, does some spoken word, talks about how he came to be who he is and simply inspires the students to write and share. "He's focused on social justice, and identity... The teachers who come to observe end up being inspired as well." Hepworth, she tells me, loves going into the schools, "because those students are just so hungry for somebody they can identify with."
Wordcrafters involves youth in their annual writers' conference (which was on hiatus this year, but will be held again in 2020). They also hold a yearly youth writing contest presently called "Fiction Fantastic" which is open to all students in Lane County. "Students submit their stories and win prizes. Then Luminare Press publishes an anthology of student writing for that year." And, they hold summer writing camps.
Adult writers find support as well, through various workshops, critique groups, contests, speakers, bi-annual writing retreats etc. And these might be happening in an art gallery, in a winery, in a school, in a forest... Their goal is to "bring all kinds of different writers and writing experiences to folks" and expose them to all of the different voices in the community.
In 2018 Wordcrafters worked with the Shelton McMurphey Johnson House conducting a monthly reading series called Reading Like a Writer, which what was "kind of like a book group/craft talk." A local author would choose a book for the group to read. Then s/he would talk about the selected book in terms of why s/he loved that book and, in terms of craft, what s/he may have taken away from it. For example "This author is really amazing at dialogue and look here and here and here...." And then would come group discussion. This format will be picked up again this next year, and a similar group started.
Presently, always on a Monday, but at different times in the month, a Creative Writing workshop is held at the Springfield Library.
Wordcrafters workshops, speakers and contests do tend to focus more on prose, fiction, and Creative Non-fiction, Daryll Lynne explained, than poetry, probably because there are other groups in Eugene that tend to fill that need. Nonetheless, in 2017, an exciting contest called Step into Poetry was done in conjunction with the city of Eugene. Winning poems were posted in a local parking garage. And, as we spoke, Wordcrafters was planning for an October 4th poetry reading by Laura LeHew, Charles Castle, and others in conjunction with the Eugene First Friday ArtWalk.
I asked her about the huge, beautiful space we were meeting in: "This entire block is owned by one company, and where we used to be was actually in one of the (smaller) shared spaces. We outgrew that.... We just kept growing, growing, growing,... Here, we even have a couple of extra offices that we're calling open studio and there are three levels to that. You can just come in and work during the day while we are here, or you can get a dedicated desk or an entire office ..."
They use Eric Witchey’s model for writing practice based on what is called the "parallel play mode" (from child development)..., where a young child plays with their own toy, but next to another child playing with their toy. Adults also can be more creative when they are in a space with others being creative.
The new larger space accommodates an after-school program with classes for young writers. Even Wordcrafters' 2020 Writer's Conference called Be Writing will be held right there in the new large space.
As for workshops, the new building offers space for them as well, and, often a workshop morphs into a critique group, "because you all have the same language, you ... know each other’s work... And so the goal would be that people come to a workshop, get to know each other, learn critiquing skills and then move out on their own." And, what good luck that Patricia Marshall, now board president, also runs Luminare Press, which helps independent authors produce their books, while also creating anthologies for Wordcrafters projects.
My head was spinning. So much the Wordcrafters do. So much I knew so little about before this conversation. (Did I mention that in a workshop for mystery writers they brought in real detectives and forensic experts?)
"Thank you," I was saying, just getting ready to pack up and leave, when Daryll Lynne happened to mention their Podcast.
"A Podcast?" Yes, indeed. The Podcast, a collaboration between Daryll Lynne, James Aaron ( A.K.A James Stegallel), and Molly Martin (A.K.A. M.K. Martin) called "Sentence to Paragraph", doesn't focus on how to get started as a writer, or on the business side of writing, but on "the middle space, of how do you move from being a journeyman writer to a master. Once you've had a book or two under your belt and you're getting on your feet as a writer, what are those next steps and how do you keep going and really master your craft?"
You can click into the podcast directly from the Wordcrafter website, and also get a taste of the other myriad opportunities they offer. Dive in, I'd say, whatever sort of writer you are, for "Craft, Community, and Inspiration." (and chocolate!)
Scott L.: My Dad was the editor in chief of the local newspaper, and three times a week he would do a radio show on a local radio station interviewing people, talking about what was going on in our small city. He had a great voice
Scott L.: My Dad was the editor in chief of the local newspaper, and three times a week he would do a radio show on a local radio station interviewing people, talking about what was going on in our small city. He had a great voice. So I am going to try and channel that voice here in this interview.
Joan D. Okay. So tell me, how would this interview that photographs books, be more promotional of books than an interview that photographed our faces?
Scott L. Well, for one, faces are best seen up close in real life. Not on a screen. And books, anytime you see books, it's good. They have a kind of wooden but beautiful image. And they are an image of somebody's thoughts. While we are not an image of ourselves. So I'm a little leery about having my face in an interview. I'd rather...
Joan D. Okay, we'll photograph the books... So tell me how did this begin? How did you first get this bookstore and how did it become such a beautiful venue for writers and speakers.
Scott L. I was working in the woods and my body was blowing out. I knew at some point I had to change careers or become a cripple, so I started looking for things to do, things I knew about, and I was not real happy about my options for what I knew as far as making a living. I knew I could make a good living, but there were things that didn't interest me much. Both my parents owned bookstores for periods and our house, of course, was a house of books, so I came around to that idea. I went to work for Black Sun. In fact, when Peter Ogura first opened, I was his first employee and sold a lot of books there for a couple of years. Then he wanted to expand, he wanted to open a second store and he asked me, and I turned him down. I didn't feel like it.
I think it was '95. At that point, I had quit working for Black Sun and Peter asked David Rhodes, the guy who came in (to Black Sun). So he and David spent $1,000 and bought the guts of a bookstore that had gone belly up in Portland. The ladders were good, but the rest was press board and what they call "modern display items" from probably in the late seventies, early eighties. Kind of funky, but it was enough for the front end.
After a year it became clear they did not want to be partners and I'd come off a really bad couple of jobs where I was working and did not want to continue that anymore. So David suggested that I buy out Peter, which I did.... David and I worked twelve years together then, side by side. Only had one argument in those twelve years. Yeah, they were good years.
And David knew a lot. He was into theater, music, performance production. He understood all that. Plus, he had been a bookstore manager in Chicago when he was younger and he had the rap, he knew how to say things. You know, sometimes you have to assure people without even knowing yourself. And David had this thing. He'd go "Oh hmm. Hmm." (That sound, I've been working on that for twenty years.) So he mostly took the lead. I did a lot of the peripheral things initially: cleaning the books, going out, buying a lot of the books, bringing them in ... I organized a few events I would do the set up and tear down.
At that time we just had the front room [of the store] There was a little grand piano and very few books. It was kind of open, friendly, but not much of a bookstore. I oftentimes could not find a single book I wanted to read, which was sad. Maybe if I were in jail a lot and was let out, I would have found more interest in some of those books. But anyway, my reading wasn't that broad at that point either.
But we kept growing. We believed that energy equals capital. We were both politically radical. This was a period when capital was equal in capital only. "Capital equals capital." It used to be: to the worker goes to spoil. And then it became "to the people with money goes the spoil." And then, as things like hedge funds, etc. entered in it became a math equation where debt equals capital. And that was beyond our thinking. We both were skilled and could've followed those things, but morally they were empty and the arts were full. So we went with the arts.
We were both young, energetic... We figured, "This is America. You work hard, you're doing something ethical, you're going to make good living."
Well that didn't happen. I lost my house immediately. We worked for free pretty much for most of the first 12 years. And I wound up living in the bookstore for a while. Eventually, I think David was making a couple hundred a month and then maybe we were each up to $500 a month. It was pathetic. I mean we're talking 21st century, full time job. This is what we had, and we didn't have the money to grow.
Joan D. Then how did you grow?
Well. We just kept that energy thing going. We got better at trading. We got really good at buying used books, not shortchanging people in the store. Our theory was "pay more than anyone else in town and charge less." Kind of a crazy theory, but it was still a way to be ultimately fair. We couldn't buy a lot in the stores under that theory, but we'd go out, back then there were a lot of yard sales. Books were cheap in many different ways and we would find them. Plus, we enjoyed each other's company and really enjoyed the community of good people who came in. That was the thing. They were just unique. Rich, poor, didn't matter. They put on their best persons when they came into the bookstore. And I think that's one of the glories of bookstores.
Joan D. You became a kind of a center for the writing community...
We started with one great public read. It was frustrating that there were so many cliques. You know, I use that word very carefully here. We're talking to the Lane Literary Guild...
Joan D.: That's what we're trying to do with this LLG website, find a way to make a venue that's going to be good for all local writers to advertise their books that have just come out, readings, events, to create a site that everyone will go to. We're trying to open up that whole idea of not being cliquish ...
Scott L: It's needed here in town. The country needs it. But certainly the writers in Eugene have been cliquish forever. Lots of little groups come and go over the years. I remember how exciting it was when the Guild first got started. It was Jenny Root and Erik Muller and two or three others ...and they had a reading at the Hult Center. It was amazing. I think, "Why can't we do that again?" I think we can. But that's what we tried here (at Tsunami) when we first got started. I was from the woods and I did not see the difference in personalities so much that created these different groups. I did see the smallness that came out though, and it hurt to see that. Artists and writers who really were not being supportive of each other.
This was early '97. So Dave and I had a lot of downtime here at the store, think time. And we thought, "Let's just have the greatest reading this town's ever had." That was our ambition. We'd bring in all the genres in the poetry world: spoken word, University, the beat poets... just regular folk... And we got nineteen poets together. We had Garrett Hongo and Dorianne Laux, for instance, Tye Connor, who was sort of the polar opposite, Frank Rossini, Mike McGriff, Jenny Root, on and on, Celia Hagen , Erik Muller. Even I got up there. I had some pretty strong pieces at that point And it was an upfront packed house, everybody loving it. Up by the counter we had a little tiny table with a about 30 bottles of wine, so it was kind of poets drinking and listening , well over a hundred people in that little front room, all ages. Our bottom line was, "Give us the best five minutes you've ever given in your life." That's what we would come to people with and it was quite a reading!
Unfortunately, two poets from two different schools, we'll call them cliques... got drunk outside and challenged each other to a death match ... I don't want to go too far into that now. Anybody who asks can come and see me personally. It didn't happen, but a lot of people really lost the desire for doing a huge reading again.
At any rate, not long after that, we were told that we either had to take over the whole building or give up the bookstore. The landlords needed a tenant for the whole building. Dave and I came up with this theory: "Go for broke or go broke." We did go broke, but we kept working. Living in the store, living with our girlfriends, whatever it took.
And we built this back part (of the store) completely out of recycled wood. I was back in the woods, part time. I'd plant trees for six months and then I'd be laid off for six months. While I was laid off from tree planting, I would come into the store and just build, we didn't know what we were doing. We had a great builder helping us, but every day we would just think, "What do we want to do with this and what do we want to do with that?"
One thought we had was to have a little stage where we could have poetry books and a table area for a cafe, or just a place for people to come and write. Dave was seriously into music, and theater, so we thought, "Well, we could have some musicians up here, maybe some theater people."
As for the stage, that's a whole other story The main thing is, it's here. Yes. It's kind of a thousand years stage in many ways. It's really got a lot of heft, solidity built mostly from recycled high school and university gymnasium, bleachers and pallet wood from the Amazon. That turned out to be the highest grade wood in the world.... That's our stage floor and we have filled it with poetry. I think we've done somewhere in the neighborhood of 3000 events on this stage: theater, music, poetry, all forms of poetry.
Joan D. How did you get involved with the spoken word community?
Scott L.: When Sam Bonds just opened, it was a time when what they called "poetry slams" in America were just getting underway. Jenny Root wanted to do it. She was hanging a little bit at Sam Bonds as many of us were. She wanted to get a slam started and David and I said we'd sponsor it, give $100 to the first prize, which was a lot of money back in '97 and maybe $50 for the second prize.... $25 for third. We did it two or three times, had some excellent MCs. Some (presenters) have really good poetry, some bad, you know, poetry slam runs the gamut.
When it finished there, Marietta Bonaventure, who had worked here and liked it here and started her own bookstore, Foolscap on Eighth and Polk, picked up the slam for a few years. She had a lot of energy for the spoken word. And I was very excited about it. I had a lot of sounds that came out of me. So I would write these little stories that could become narrative poems. Spoken Word is a wonderful process for workshopping. When there's a hundred people staring at you while you're reciting a poem in any format, their reactions affect your rewrite.
Marietta closed the Foolscap, where the slams were occurring, and the people who wanted to keep (the slams) going eventually came here to Tsunami. There were three women: Jon LaBrousse, Roxy Allen and Jorah Lafleur. Jorah was quite a young woman at that time, and, she was the dynamo. They were all three leaders, but she was the leader of leaders. So it was like, "Okay, if George Hitchcock is going to get up on the stage, we'll get a crowd." Because one thing we know here at Tsunami, is what not making money and paying rent is all about, and it's Hell. In America it's the worst Hell. It's worse Hell here than anywhere else in the world because this is the land of so much money ... But Jorah could bring in a crowd -- and a paying crowd! She also could write a grant and we set up grants where almost anyone could write one and get a little money to help out. We figured out if we got a hundred people in here for an evening and were very cheap and we paid a lot of people to perform and to help, we won. We thought that artists needed to actually make a little money even if the store didn't. So, it just kept growing. Her energy was very good and strong. Actually, we just finished that series. It was nine years.
While that was going on, of course, the (local community) continued to have readings here. That was a wonderful thing. We also had people like Robert Bly.
Joan D.: I remember that reading.
Scott L.: Yeah, right here on this stage all day.
Joan D.: What I never forgot was him reading every poem twice. I loved that.
Scott L.: That was real important. It was a little pedantic, how he laid it out, but the theory was extremely sound and other people have done it and it makes a world of difference.
Another thing: Erik Muller with Traprock books was great. He published thirty-five or forty different Oregon poets... nice books, well laid out, really high quality paper, much better than you can get on the modern print on demand. And they were all affordable. He sold out most of them. He didn't make any money, but it paid for his love for eight or ten years of doing it. ... Every time a new poet would come out, he'd get in touch. We'd have an event here and we'd bring in two or three other poets, always good, always well received. And people would buy the book to show support for each other... And the other thing very interesting about poets (and their audience), is their reading abilities are very broad. They're not just reading poetry...When we'd have one of these readings, that would be one of our best sales days of the year. We loved it
Well, we closed down a couple of performance poetry series here recently. We had an "every third Saturday" that had different incarnations; it sometimes had open mike, sometimes didn't, and was off and on for several years and is no more here. The poetry slam, likewise, is not here now, but we do have a women's open mike once a month, January through May. We got some big grants to do it and we're very happy about that. Bailey Fisher, who's been here a little over a year is very excited about, this "Women's Stage", I think it's called, because you are allowed to do anything you want for seven minutes. Predominantly it's poets, mostly poets, but comedians too. Some very good musicians have stepped up, like Haley Lauren who she just won a Grammy. She lives in the neighborhood and she stepped up often...
I'm going to describe briefly an experiment that we tried last March: The idea was, "Let's get two hours of poetry where every single piece moves everyone in the crowd." That was the idea. So it was almost back to that original nineteen folks. It was Charles Goodrich, Clem Stark, who just had a collected works, and Erik Muller, and then Jenny Root. We got an email chain going between us all. It was a wonderful process because these were pros who knew what they wanted and how to do it. I just kind of directed things a little bit, so it kept me pretty much out of the real organizing. We called it "The team Stark." We did (the presentation) on a Saturday afternoon, starting at three. It was beautiful with a little musical interlude, you know, to kind of mix it up. Some very nice acoustic musicians, friends of Clem's performed. All kinds of people came There were seventy people! All ages, all walks. It was great. And that's what we deserve in this town because we've been here for a long time, most of us... or at least on the planet. And, it's just such a personal thing when somebody comes up to you and says," I loved that poem you wrote about this."
(As for future events) we've been talking with various individuals from the Lane Literary guild, and with a lot of different groups of people in different circles in Eugene. I want things to work well.... like when Jorah came in and she was with Jon LaBrousse, who's a very well loved teacher in town now and Roxy Allen who does a lot of the makeup and dress for the Hult center. I mean these are people of real talent. And as they came in, they'd already had practice and they were like, "This is what we want to do. This is how we're going to pay for it and you know you can pay your staff and the building will actually get rented." The important thing is to get something up on the stage with the idea of giving people something right-- really giving them something while turning it on my books. It might be people with single event ideas and that's fine. Or, you know, a series is nice because people get comfortable with it. I'm looking for someone with a real idea, something rather fully formed like that, to just come in.
Coming Soon From Uttered Chaos Press: Joan Dobbie's New Poetry Collection
May 30, 2019
On a cold, wet January evening in 2018, Eugene poet Joan Dobbie read from her manuscript, “Stone Poems,” at Poetry for the People. Poem after poem filled the room with the story of a love affair in which two people try their best but can’t seem to avoid hurting each other, as in these lines from “Two Stones or One Stone:”
Both stones were brittle and hard.
Bouncing, they struck one another.
On a cold, wet January evening in 2018, Eugene poet Joan Dobbie read from her manuscript, “Stone Poems,” at Poetry for the People. Poem after poem filled the room with the story of a love affair in which two people try their best but can’t seem to avoid hurting each other, as in these lines from “Two Stones or One Stone:”
Both stones were brittle and hard.
Bouncing, they struck one another.
Oh, don't let this end, cried the one.
Oh, please let it end, sighed the other.
Joan started writing the poems in a 1997 workshop with Irish poet Noelle Vial. “Stone / Isolation. Now write,” Vial told her students. The idea took hold of Joan, and “They just kept filling my head and leaping out. I posted parts of the ‘Stone’ manuscript on my website, joandobbie.blogspot.com, and sent it out, I think, once to a publisher I never heard back from. And...that was it. The stones sat underground deep inside my various computers. Waiting for their time,” until January 2018, when “I found myself sharing a few ‘Stone Poems’ to what turned out to be a really enthusiastic audience.”
Uttered Chaos Press’s Laura LeHew was there that night, and immediately began to imagine a book: “Joan was very well prepared. I saw it as a solid project right away.” Working with Erik Muller, who was also at the reading that night, Joan selected and edited the poems, and the result will be published in early September.
“When choosing books to publish, I trust my gut,” Laura said. “I look for honesty. I like it when people take chances in their writing.” Laura works on one book at a time, and expects Joan’s book to take up much of her summer. “I like to publish a variety of books, not just the same thing over and over.” Uttered Chaos’s authors include Judith Arcana, Amy MacLennan, and Scot Siegel, among others. Laura also runs the Poetry for the People series with Roy Seitz.
A sample poem from Joan’s manuscript:
PANNING FOR GOLD
There is gold in the brook
by your feet, both
granite and gold.
Scoop the sand up in your cup
swish back and forth
like the sea.
Little stones fall by the way
but the gold, heavy gold
and no matter how much
you have found
there is never enough.
Check back for more on Joan’s fall reading schedule.
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