Saturday, March 31, 2007

Molly Gloss

The Jump-Off Creek by Molly Gloss is the story of a woman who homesteads alone in Oregon in 1895. It has compelling characters, vivid prose, a strong story, and is practically a textbook on how to show and not tell. My bookclub for writers found it inspirational.

The book won several prizes, including Finalist, PEN/Faulkner Award for American Fiction, H. L. Davis/Oregon Book Award for Fiction, & Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award.

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Thursday, March 29, 2007

Kay Sexton on subject anxiety

I'm still mulling over Kay's advice on subject anxiety. Scroll down to the post for Thursday, March 15, 2007 on her fine blog.
Here's the beginning:

"Very often, a writer will simply not be able to write past a certain point in a narrative because the subject matter frightens, disturbs or otherwise blocks them. We all know that key aspects of our lives and our beliefs shape our fiction - take a look at the works of any major writer and you'll see the same themes emerging in different forms: for Dickens it was poverty, for Coetzee it's identity, for du Maurier it was the nature of deception that shaped all her work. These key themes are both the wellspring of our personal beliefs, and the scaffolds around which doubts, fears and bad memories cluster like noisome corpses."

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Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Carol Bly

from The Passionate, Accurate Story:

The Strengths of Chronological Order in Stories

If a story happens in its chronological order, the reader is free of the interior voice of any character remembering events: for the reader, this means having only his or her self, so the reader feels there, savoring the ambiance of whatever strange scenes are offered.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

I have a new fav blog

NYS Farm is the blog of Jennifer, a sheperdess in Central New York, who raises sheep for wool and meat. Here are a few of my favorite posts.

"Dear Sheep,

Most of you have been with me for a while now, and we still don't have what I'd call a good working relationship. I'd like to take this opportunity to explain my expectations for you. Perhaps after this, we'll both enjoy our jobs a bit more here on the ol' homestead...

A note to the rams on the farm:

Rams, the only thing I'd add for you would be to behave yourself. Your job is to be a lover, not a fighter. I know you have short attention spans, but listen carefully:
If you put your head down and aim for any part of any human body with any HINT of aggression, You. Are. Stew. I don't care how pretty you are, how great your fleece is or how good looking your lambs are because here's the reality:
Your beautiful, wonderful spinning fleece you think is securing you a 'life' here also doubles as one INCREDIBLE pelt. And, your good looking lambs can easily be repeated next year by using one of your offspring for next year's ram. Now go graze quietly until I need you again next winter."

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Creative Arts Community at Menucha

Every summer the Creative Arts Community presents workshops at Menucha in the Columbia Gorge. I went last year and took a dialogue workshop from Martha Gies. This year Martha is offering a workshop on how to interview an artist.

from the Creative Arts Community website:
"Using as our laboratory the Menucha campus, its studios and barns full of painting and ceramics, its individual classes full of people creating art, we will each choose one artist (may be faculty or student) to observe and interview during the week. The product will be a first-draft profile of a working artist. For inspiration we will look at profiles provided by the instructor, pieces of eloquence and skill published in The New Yorker and elsewhere. Note: Writers are welcome to bring tape recorders and cameras, though neither is required.

Martha Gies began publishing nonfiction in the mid-seventies and was a Seattle correspondent to Variety for two years. Her short stories and literary essays appear widely in literary quarterlies, including Zyzzyva, Orion and The Sun, and in several anthologies. In 2004, Oregon State University Press published Up All Night, her portrait of Portland told through the stories of 23 people who work graveyard shift."


Thursday, March 22, 2007

Orange Prize longlist

Here's the article in The Guardian online, (March 19,2007).

Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Fourth Estate)
Poppy Shakespeare by Clare Allan (Bloomsbury)
Arlington Park by Rachel Cusk (Faber)
The Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai (Hamish Hamilton)
Peripheral Vision by Patricia Ferguson (Solidus)
Over by Margaret Forster (Chatto & Windus)
The Dissident by Nell Freudenberger (Picador)
When to Walk by Rebecca Gowers (Canongate)
A Concise Chinese-English Dictionary for Lovers by Xiaolu Guo (Chatto & Windus)
The Observations by Jane Harris (Faber)
Carry Me Down by MJ Hyland (Canongate)
The Girls by Lori Lansens (Virago)
Alligator by Lisa Moore (Virago)
What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn (Tindal Street Press)
The Tenderness of Wolves by Stef Penney (Quercus)
Careless by Deborah Robertson (Sceptre)
Afterwards by Rachel Seiffert (Heinemann)
Ten Days in the Hills by Jane Smiley (Faber)
Digging to America by Anne Tyler (Chatto & Windus)
The Housekeeper by Melanie Wallace (Harvill Secker)


Monday, March 19, 2007

MacArthur Fellows

Here's the list, not by year, but by what the MacArthur Foundation calls "domain." These choices strike me as, well, peculiar is the kindest word I can muster.

Walter Abish Writer
Andrea Barrett Novelist
Octavia Butler Writer
Jay Cantor Writer
Sandra Cisneros Writer
Guy Davenport Writer, Critic, and Translator
Lydia Davis Writer and Translator
Andre Dubus Writer
William Gaddis Novelist
Ernest J. Gaines Writer
Rebecca Goldstein Writer
Virginia Hamilton Writer
Patricia Hampl Writer
Aleksandar Hemon Writer
Karen S. Hesse Writer
Bette Howland Writer and Literary Critic
Ruth Prawer Jhabvala Novelist and Screenwriter
Angela Johnson Writer
Charles R. Johnson Writer
Edward P. Jones Writer
William Kennedy Novelist
Jonathan Lethem Writer
Norman Manea Writer
Paule Marshall Writer
Cormac McCarthy Writer
James A. McPherson Writer
Ved Mehta Writer
Richard Powers Novelist
Thomas Pynchon Novelist
George Saunders Writer
Ishmael Scott Reed Poet and Writer
Joanna Scott Writer
Leslie Marmon Silko Writer
David Foster Wallace Writer
Colson Whitehead Writer
John Edgar Wideman Writer

A. R. Ammons Poet
John Ashbery Poet
Linda Bierds Poet
Joseph Brodsky Poet
Anne Carson Poet and Classicist
Amy Clampitt Poet
Douglas Crase Poet
Irving Feldman Poet
Alice Fulton Poet
Jorie Graham Poet
Allen Grossman Poet and Literary Critic
Thom Gunn Poet and Literary Critic
Robert Hass Poet, Critic, and Translator
Daryl Hine Poet and Translator
Edward Hirsch Poet, Essayist, and Literary Critic
John Hollander Poet and Literary Critic
Richard Howard Poet, Translator, and Literary Critic
Richard Kenney Poet
Galway Kinnell Poet
Ann Lauterbach Poet and Literary Critic
Brad Leithauser Poet and Writer
Campbell McGrath Poet
Thylias Moss Poet and Writer
Lucia M. Perillo Poet
Jim Powell Poet, Translator, and Literary Critic
A. K. Ramanujan Poet, Translator, and Literary Scholar
Adrienne Rich Poet and Writer
Charles Simic Poet, Translator, and Essayist
Mark Strand Poet and Writer
May Swenson Poet
Derek Walcott Poet and Playwright
Robert Penn Warren Poet, Writer, and Literary Critic
Eleanor Wilner Poet
C.D. Wright Poet
Jay Wright Poet and Playwright

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Rivendell Journal

Rivendell Journal in North Carolina is looking for submissions from Northwest poets and writers.

from the website:

Issue 5: Pacific Northwest

Deadline for submissions:
August 1, 2007
P.O. Box 9594
Asheville, NC 28815

RIVENDELL is a literary arts journal that recognizes and cherishes the places out of which art and literature are made and enjoyed: geographic locations, communities, shared sensibilities. In each issue we gather together poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, original artwork, dispatches, and criticism from, about, and inspired by a particular place.

Our new and expanded website will be available soon.

Email to order the current issue, Rivendell: Native Genius, which features work from southern Appalachia: Maggie Anderson, Kathryn Stripling Byer, Adrian Blevins, Fred Chappell, John Lane, Jim Wayne Miller, Robert Morgan, Thomas Rain Crowe, Ron Rash, Betsy Sholl, Jonathan Williams, Charles Wright, and many others.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Mary Beth Ray wins Gold at Best Travel Writing

My pal Mary Beth Ray has won the Gold Prize at Travel Writing for her essay True Relic, about an encounter in Milan.

It's a wonderful, evocative essay. Here's the opening paragraph:

"I walked to the Duomo early in the morning to watch people for a while. I was glad to be able to set my own pace. That’s one of the reasons I travel alone. Today the pace would be measured. But for a few Japanese tourists doing the pigeon photo op thing, the whole scene could have been out of a fifties’ American in Europe movie. Humidity bent the morning light to give everything a golden Technicolor glow. I expected to see Clark Gable or Rock Hudson gambol past. The Italian women were all Loren and Lollabrigida beautiful. It was still cool and I sat on the pedestal of a lamp post/statue to watch people assemble and to look at the church façade. I chose a spot with as little pigeon poop and urine stain as I could find. Apparently, the piazza in front of the Duomo is a place for all to come and leave a piece of themselves behind or to take something with them."


Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Twisted Sisters Socks

I have fallen in with the infamous Twisted Sisters, a knitting gang headquartered in Multnomah Village at Northwest Wools, an innocent-looking yarn emporium. I will be taking a class from one of the most twisted of the sisters, one Jan Prewitt by name. I met her when I innocently but earnestly asked for the local equivalent of Elizabeth Zimmerman and Maggie Righetti. A middle-aged woman whipped around, and announced, "You need to study with me." Ah. Joy is mine. Or will be mine in April, when class starts. Stay tuned for more on this nefarious and utterly compelling tribe.

I'm making socks in Noro handpainted yarn, using the ruffled cast-on from this book. (Oh, yes, I'm also writing & revising. It is good for a writer to have a hobby. Nice to make something tangible.)


Monday, March 12, 2007

Spring Fiber Sale, Saturday March 17

I'm in the mood for for wool, sheep, fleece, prepared fiber, spinners, dyers, knitters, and wool-gatherers.

The annual Spring Fiber Sale is this Saturday, March 17, in Oregon City at the Abernethy Grange, 15745 S. Harley Avenue, Oregon City.

from the website:
Directions: From I-205, take exit 10, Park Place, just north of Oregon City. Heading SE on Hwy 213 (Trails End Hwy), take the first left after the freeway...this is labeled as both Park Place and Clackamas River Road. Go one half mile and turn right onto Forsythe, then go up the hill one block and turn left onto Harley. The Abernethy Grange Hall is on the left at the end of the road (about two blocks).


Sunday, March 11, 2007

Elizabeth Zimmerman 1910-1999

"Properly practiced, knitting soothes the troubled spirit, and it doesn't hurt the untroubled spirit,either." ~ Elizabeth Zimmerman.

Amazon lists Knitting Without Tears as currently unavailable, which is not true. Here's the website for Schoolhouse Press, run by Meg Swanson, EZ's daughter. This is my favorite knitting book of all time. I re-read it for sheer pleasure, as well as education.


Friday, March 09, 2007


Tracey Ullman - "As I get older, I just prefer to knit."


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Elizabeth Bowen 1899-1973

from "Notes on Writing a Novel"

Plot. -Essential. The Pre-Essential.

Plot might seem to be a matter of choice. It is not. The particular plot is something the novelist is driven to. It is what is left after the whittling-away of alternatives. The novelist is confronted, at a moment (or what appears to be the moment: actually its extension may be indefinite) by the impossibility os saying what is to be said in any other way.


Sunday, March 04, 2007

World Literature Quiz

Yup. Including Antarctica.

Start right here.

I got 16/29. Not so good, not so bad. Odd the ones I got right...


Thursday, March 01, 2007

Mary Akers interview

There is a good interview with Mary Akers, a pal of mine from Queens, at Kelly Spitzer's blog. (See March 1st posting.)

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