Blog

Pine Pollen and Canopy Tears: An Iowa Essayist Looks at a Northwest Forest

A new post on my WritingtheNorthwest.com site looks at an essay on an old growth forest in Oregon that’s part of my friend Tom Montgomery Fate‘s new book collection, The Long Way Home: Detours and Discoveries.

The essay is full of sharp observations of the NW environment by a native Iowan, and the book takes you on trips of discovery to other places too: the Pine Ridge Reservation, the backwoods of Ontario, the Philippines, Nicaragua, and Midwest backroads.

You can read my post here.

Talented Writers Supporting and Encouraging One Another

(Pete Duval, Julie Moore, Joel Heng Hartse, Lydia Wylie-Kellerman, Heather Caliri, Paul Greene, Sylvia & me, Meg Eden Kuyatt, Evi Wusk, Katherine Shaner, Jen Crow)

I spent the past week and a half leading a workshop with this incredibly talented and openly loving group of writers. Together, they were the embodiment what we need right now: creative people supporting and encouraging one another in an increasingly harsh and fearful world. #collegevilleinstitute, #vortexesoflove

Beautiful New Children’s Book by My Co-Mentor, Patrice Gopo

If you have children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or just young friends in the 4-8-year-old range, consider gifting them this beautifully written and beautifully illustrated story.

The author is the amazing Patrice Gopo, my co-mentor in a Collegeville program for emerging writers this coming fall and winter.

Here’s a summary of the book:

In her first picture book, author Patrice Gopo illuminates how family stories of far-off lands help shape children, help form their identity, and help connect them with the broader world. Her lyrical language, paired with Jenin Mohammed’s richly textured artwork, creates a beautiful, stirring portrait of a child’s deep ties to cultures and communities beyond where she lays her head to sleep.

You can learn more about the book and order a copy here.

Back in One of My Happy Places

The view from my apartment at the Collegeville Institute.

After three Covid-forced years away, I’m back at the Collegeville Institute this week and next, leading a workshop called Apart and Yet a Part. I couldn’t be happier.

For the next ten days, I’ll be meeting individually with writers who will spend their days with no commitments other working on their own writing. Evenings, we’ll have dinner together and post-dinner discussions about writing and life, a book exchange, a meditation walk, and a final-night reading of new material.

This is the land of Minnesota Nice, which isn’t as glib as it sounds. Our power was out this morning and it strengthened my belief in humanity just to watch the staff here interact with the physical plant workers who came to get us back online. Everyone was respectful and helpful and thankful and had a good sense of humor. Why aren’t we all this way with each other all the time?

The Powell’s Books List of 40 Books Set in the Pacific Northwest

Image from the Powell’s Books website

A new post on WritingtheNorthwest.com looks at a list of 40 books set in the Pacific Northwest, compiled by the staff at Powell’s Books.

If you’re looking for a summer read or just to see a range of writing about the Northwest, check it out:

The Powell’s List of 40 Books Set in the Pacific Northwest

The Beauty and Care of Children

Yesterday morning, I heard the sound of children’s voice, and when I looked out the window, a preschool teacher was taking a picture of her students with our ridiculously large rhododendron as the background.

Those sweet faces and smiles were exactly what I needed to see after the awful news out of Texas the day before.

Leaving aside, for a moment, the discussion of guns and gun violence in this country, we need to do everything we can to protect our children in every way, not only from killings but also poverty, neglect, and abuse. If we aren’t willing to care for and protect children, whether they are ours or someone else’s, what kind of a society are we?

My Review of ROUGH HOUSE, a Memoir Set in the Pacific Northwest

New on WritingtheNorthwest.com: my review of Tina Ontiveros’s rough house (Oregon State University Press, 2020), a difficult but moving memoir about growing up in the damp forests of the Pacific Northwest and the dry brown land around The Dalles, Oregon.

Here’s an excerpt:

“Contrary to popular belief, you can sometimes tell a lot about a book by its title. In addition to the double meaning of physical fun and difficult circumstances, it’s significant that rough house is printed in lower case. Ontiveros is shining a light on minor characters whose stories, though filled with poverty and violence, are worth telling—and worth reading—for what they reveal about the hardships many Americans face, as well as how those Americans—especially women, like Ontiveros—find a way forward despite the odds.”