Sunday, June 29, 2014

Your Writer's Writer

People often ask what Orcas Island is like in fall and winter, and we have a hard time describing how some days everything is tinged a foggy blue, like waking to a muted, indigo dream, or how the late afternoon light reflected off the water illuminates everything with a doubly golden glow. But now we don't have to explain. We can tell them to watch the movie "Your Sister's Sister." Filmed on Orcas Island in the fall and winter, it shows how along the shorelines the ambience of majestic trees are silhouetted  by two sources of light: the low-slung sun, and dappled light off the water that shimmer along the undersides of branches. Unless it rains. Then the grasses brighten and dense mosses come to life. The trails are quiet. One is tempted to wrap up in a cozy blanket with a hot mug of goodness and remember what it means to relax so deeply your thoughts run just as deep. The kind of contemplation writers and artists in residence often seek.

Why, you might wonder, are we thinking of fall and winter during these glorious days of summer? Because the application period for the 2015 Artsmith Artist Residency, January 4-11, as well as Writer Island with the incomparable Peggy Shumaker, October 24-26, 2014, are both open. Plus, Doug and Anne Johnson as well as Peggy have both offered scholarships for Writer Island, so the application period is open for that, too! Join us for an escape to our island of creative rejuvenation.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Imnaha Writer's Retreat

Ahh, for a week to write in an inspiring setting in the company of other creatives! I just learned from the good folks at Fishtrap's Imnaha Writers' Retreat that they still have a few spots open for their annual writing retreats in April. Do you know about Imnaha yet? If not, you'll probably want to. Every year, they make a limited number of one-week writing retreats available during the month of April.

The retreat takes place at a remote cabin in Oregon's upper Imnaha River, and by remote, I mean you will walk across a suspended footbridge to get to the cabin (a cart is available so you don't have to carry your bags). Up to five writers luxuriate in the glorious Oregon countryside, respecting a quiet time during the day, and having the option to share work and stimulating conversation in the evening. The pricing uses a voluntary sliding scale, with the lowest fee being only $280 per week, or more if you choose and can afford it.

This year's retreats take place April 6-12, April 13-19, April 20-26, and April 27-May 3. I'm not sure which dates are already filled, but contact Imnaha to find out if the week you'd like is available. You can learn more about the retreat at the Imnaha Writer's Retreat web page.

PS - "Writer" is defined loosely, and includes writers of all kinds, including songwriters.
PPS - They also have a treehouse in addition to the cabin, so definitely ask about that!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Judith Kitchen and Stan Sanvel Rubin Read at Darvill's March 11

Those who know this month’s Artsmith Salon Series featured readers, Judith Kitchen and Stan Sanvel Rubin, know that the past few years have been a time of prolific writing despite the devastating effects of cancer on Judith’s health and both their lives. The cancer is now in remission, and Judith and Stan have recently had published a novella-length essay and a collection of poetry, respectively. Books that aren’t necessarily meant to speak to each other, but when read together (or listened to at a reading) create poignant and moving connections. Can we draw conclusions from how Judith writes of dreams where she tries to convince her late mother to say that her daughter will die while Stan writes a series of poems reminiscent of Neruda's odes, but each set in wartime, as though the essayist is trying to help her loved ones prepare for all eventualities while the poet focuses on the trauma and aftermath of battle? Can we make assumptions about their personal battles, individually and as a couple, with cancer, fear, or even the choice not to approach cancer a "battle?" Can we help but be inspired by and grateful to two masters of their craft who transform the fear of ruin into an appreciation of all our collective moments, ruinous or otherwise?

Judith was recently honored at the annual Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) conference for her lifetime contributions to literature and being one of the most highly regarded writers and critics in the world today. Stan is also a highly acclaimed poet and critic, whose latest poetry collection, There. Here. from Lost Horse Press, has garnered praise for its silence that "has rarely spoken more clearly than in poems whose whittled-down sounds find war in the hulls of pine nuts and human nature in the folds of an accordion” (Linda Bierds). Among their many other accomplishments, Judith and Stan founded Pacific Lutheran University's low residency MFA in Creative Writing, now celebrating its tenth year.

Judith and Stan will read at Darvill’s Bookstore on Orcas Island Tuesday, March 11, 2014 at 6pm. As always, a stimulating Q&A will follow the reading along with hors d’oeuvres and book-signing. For a hint of their writing, and to get a sense of the interplay between their poetry and essays, here are two excerpts. Notice how each draws from past, present, and future—from memory, moment, and metaphor—in ways that reminds us that love is the life well lived.

In The Circus Train, Judith writes:

“There’s something I have to say about the good properties of metastasis. It’s certain. There’s no backing out, so you are forced to accept. It’s a little bit like that column of dust in the old Westerns, far in the distance, but announcing its presence as it takes its interminable time coming closer and closer until, suddenly, there it is with a shape and the horse gallops up hard in your face and stops still, all lathery, and you know you are just about to hear some news of some sort. From then on, it’s all first person. Or sort of.

“Mid-May. The apple trees in the yard behind our house have blossomed so that, waking, I look into a sea of white clouds. I could go back to apple trees, the peculiar branchings that make for good climbing, my mother’s voice calling me down. Instead, I see a young girl alone, crouched on a hot day in early June, sifting the dirt of the strawberry patch. Each runner shoots out its individual white flower. Tiny, tinged with pink. But I am intent on the sifting, the sun a poultice on my neck, warm and filled with silence. Each ray streaks upward toward its source. In front of me, a soft pile of sifted dirt, silken, the texture of talc. My hand smoothes and smoothes it, leaving little trails of fingermarks. My hair pulls loose from my braids and makes a haze of sunlight around my head. The breeze is softer than the dirt, like a finger brushed over the forehead. I do not remember what I was thinking, but that I was thinking. Alone with my thoughts. With the dirt and the breeze and my own sense of self that did not disappear with my mother’s call.”

The Circus Train (Ovenbird Books, 2014)

In There. Here., Stan writes:

Meteor in War Time

We lie on the moonlit deck
long after midnight to watch
the streaking Aurigids
display their dazzle,
rare fireworks seen
just three times
dating from the comet
that broke past the sun
when Julius Caesar
was in charge
of the wars that mattered.

I see nothing, you say,
but a few weak stars.
From an air mattress
we scan the sky
with the intense peripheral wariness
of those whose mission
is to spot bombers
before they reach the city,
and I see one falling
in a swift arc
over our heads.

 There. Here.  (Lost Horse Press, 2013)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Wild, Reckless, Lovely Valentine's Reading February 11

This Valentine's Day, forget chocolate. Think chanterelles. Forget sappy love poems, think poetry that takes on the universe. Forget cupid-covered cards, think wild, reckless, and lovely with the books of husband & wife writers Langdon Cook and Martha Silano. Both will be the February featured readers in Artsmith's Salon Series at Darvill's Bookstore.

Langdon will share the adventures of a forager in his latest book, The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America.

And Martha will read poems from her fourth poetry collection, Reckless Lovely, that "begins with The Big Bang and ends with the unleashing of twelve million bees from a jack-knifed semi."

No doubt, Langdon will share tips not only for foraging, but ways to incorporate wild ingredients into a wild menu.

Since spring is just around the corner, be sure to ask him how to collect and cook with the tender fiddleheads of fern (here reminiscent of a heart for Valentine's Day).

Martha might be persuaded to read you her poem partially inspired by this image of a merman.

Who knows what wonders of nature will take wing or hang delectably on the vine.

As always, the reading will be accompanied by hors d'eouvres, book-signing, and open-mic. Bring some of your own wild, lovely, reckless words to share.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014, 6:00 PM. Darvill's Bookstore, 1 Main Street, Eastsound, WA.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Winter Island / Writer Island
 Artwork by Susan Mustard

There's a reason why we chose winter for the second Writer Island retreat. I love this hibernal time, when the urgency of holiday festivities are over, when the garden lies dormant, and nearly every plant shows signs of being on the verge.

This is the most productive writing time for me, that long, suspenseful moment before leaf and blossom. Not only do I feel inspired by winter's quiet progression, but the moodiness of daytime's angled light and the crackle of evening's winter fire provide the perfect conditions for writing.

The only thing that could make it better is the presence of other writers -- amazing writers and teachers like Martha Silano and Tina Schumann -- to hold that creative space, encourage and inspire one another, and later share new works (preferably accompanied by a complex and jammy red).

If you love writing in winter, too... If you could use a nurturing retreat where you can write during the day and share your work at night... If you love good food and the stimulating company of other writers... do yourself a favor and sign up for Writer Island January 31 to February 2. Give your writing the space and time it deserves.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Already Missing the 2014 Artsmith Artist Residency Fellows

The 2014 Artsmith Artist Residency, with Fellows Tim Burton, Theresa Dowell Blackinton, Simone Muench, Cynthia Neely, and Lisa Ohlen Harris, was an incredibly talented and sympatico group. For our last evening together, we ventured out to Doe Bay Cafe Pizza Night, then went home to share works around a blazing fire. I'm still floating on the great conversations and creative mojo.

Eagerly awaiting our pizza and swapping hilarious travel stories.
Cynthia Neely -- all smiles, all the time!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Sustainable Wine? Yes, Please!

The season of festivity is up on us. Before you stock up on wines, come join us at Darvill's Bookstore this Tuesday, Dec. 10, for a reading and wine-tasting of West Coast sustainable wines as Shannon Borg reads from her latest book, The Green Vine: A Guide to West Coast Susatinable, Organic, and Biodynamic Wine. The reading begins at 6pm, followed by wine-tasting, hors d'oeuvres, and open mic. The event is free and open to the public.

Photo credit: Jason Lande

Artsmith Salon Series at Darvill's Bookstore
One Main Street, Eastsound, WA
Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 6:00 pm