Publishing workshop at the Ashland Book & Author Fest

Poets, writers and publishing control freaks are in luck. Amazon’s CreateSpace makes self publishing easier. Local writer Amy Miller is offering a workshop at the Ashland Book and Author Festival, this Saturday Sept., 20 at noon to help get folks started. The festival will take place at Southern Oregon University’s Hannon library from 10 am to 4 pm. It’s all free and open to the public. Miller’s one-hour workshop will teach the basics of self publishing using the on-demand publishing tool.

The workshop will cover what services CreateSpace offers, how to set up an account, common errors to avoid, and basic book design. Miller is a seasoned do-it-yourself publisher who has produced 10 chapbooks of poetry and prose at home using design software and desktop printers. She is the publications project manager at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and has worked as an editor and book designer for a number of years, so with her experience, do-it-yourself publishing has been a bit less stressful. Nevertheless, when a freelance client asked for her help publishing a book on CreateSpace, Miller decided to practice on one of her own books first, “I wanted to use one of my own chapbooks as a kind of guinea pig, so I could avoid making any big mistakes with my client,” Miller said, “and if it went well, I’d have a nice book to show for it, too.”

Miller’s efforts went very well. So far, she’s produced two books on CreateSpace, “Beautiful Brutal: Poems about Cats” and “In the Hand.” They’re good looking, good quality work both inside and out. In addition to fine books, she also came away with some lessons about publishing on CreateSpace. “It was definitely a learning experience, and I am so happy with the results,” Miller said.

She’s offering the workshop to help take away some of the anxiety around self-publishing. “There’s a lot of information out there, but it’s nice to have some help with the details. CreateSpace is surprisingly simple once you have the basics down,” Miller said.

While it is possible to publish your work with little more than a word-processing program and a printer, CreateSpace also offers services for writers who may not have the time or the skills to produce an attractive product on their own. Miller will help users with the process, offering step-by-step instructions and cost-saving tips.

Miller says that the cost of publishing your book on CreateSpace depends largely on how much you do by yourself. “Publishing your book is practically free if you can design the whole book, both the cover and the interior by yourself,” Miller said. “CreateSpace has combinations of services that range anywhere from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.”

Amazon offers online templates and design services with CreateSpace. Users can design the book, alone or with the help of the online services. Amazon prints and ships copies of the book whenever customers order them. “If you do it on your own, all you pay for is the copies of the books you order for yourself, and the author price is deeply discounted. It’s about what you’d pay a printer,” Miller said. “For most chapbooks, that’s a little under $3 per book, including shipping,” she added.

While Amazon is not without its controversies, tools like CreateSpace are an ideal way for poets and writers to publish and share their work, says Miller. “With a little planning and common sense, it’s easy to manage and fun to use.”

The Ashland Book and Author Festival will take place Saturday, September 20, from 10-4 pm at Southern Oregon University’s Hannon Library. All events are free and open to the public.

For a schedule of events, click on the link below:

The Hannon Library is located at 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

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Slammin’ for Salmon

The 10th annual Bear Creek Salmon Festival is looking for writers, nature lovers and anyone with poetry in their hearts to read their work during the festival’s Poetry Slam for Salmon.

The festival is Saturday, October 4 from 11:00 to 4:00 pm. In addition to the slam, the event will feature interactive exhibits focusing on salmon and watershed conservation, short workshops and loads of outdoor activities for all ages including fly-casting, Native American Drumming and a salmon spiral labyrinth.

Submit your poem to Salmon Festival organizer Libby VanWyhe at and she’ll add you and your poetic stylings to the schedule. The poetry slam will begin at 2:00, and festival organizers request you limit your reading to 5 minutes. Poems don’t necessarily have to be about salmon. Anything that addresses the watershed, conservation or the natural beauty of this region is welcome. If you’re not sure, submit anyway. This event is open to everyone and kids are more than welcome to get up and share their poems. The deadline to submit your poetry for scheduling is September 25, so get busy, grab a pen, take a stroll outside for inspiration and write a family-friendly poem of any genre.

For more information about the slam and the festival call the North Mountain Park Nature Center at (541) 488-6606 or visit

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Sheila Bender and Jonah Bornstein

At Bloomsbury, every month is poetry month. Friday, Sept., 5 at 7:00 pm, the bookstore will feature readings by Sheila Bender and Jonah Bornstein. Bender is a poet, author and writing instructor. In addition to teaching at universities and offering a variety of writing workshops, she is also the founder of Writing it Real, an online community that facilitates writing from personal experience. Her publications include a memoir, “A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief,” the poetry collection, “Behind us the Way Grows Wider,” and many instructional books including “Creative Writing DeMystified,” and “Writing and Publishing Personal Essays.”

Anyone who hasn’t heard local poet Jonah Bornstein read is in for a lovely time. Bornstein is the editor-publisher of Wellstone Press, and he has taught poetry and creative writing from New York to Oregon. He is the founder of the Ashland Writing Center and co-founder of the Ashland Writers Conference (1997-2002). Bornstein has recently started the Wellstone Press Writers Program, where he coaches writers and continues to bring prize-winning authors and teachers to Southern Oregon. His collections of poems include, “The Art of Waking,” “Treatise on Emptiness,” and We Are Built of Light.” He is a co-author of “A Path Through Stone,” and “Voices from the Siskiyous.”

For more information call Bloomsbury Books at (541) 488-0029. Bloomsbury Books is located at 290 E. Main, Ashland.

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Poet Willa Schneberg at Bloomsbury Books

Oregon Book Award winning poet, Willa Schneberg will read and discuss her work at Bloomsbury Books on Sunday, Sept. 14 at 6:30 pm.

Schneberg is the author of five poetry collections, “In the Margins of the World,” “Box Poems,” “Storytelling in Cambodia,” the chapbook “The Books of Esther” and her recently released “Rending the Garment.” Her work has appeared in the “American Poetry Review,” “Michigan Quarterly,” “Women’s Review of Books,” and many others. Her work is also included in the textbook, “Bearing Witness: Teaching About the Holocaust.”

In addition to her reading, Schneberg is offering a workshop, “Writing the Jewish Experience” at Temple Emek Shalom the same Sunday from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. Participants will explore in their own words what they consider the Jewish experience, as well as write their individual experiences of what it means to be Jewish. For information about the workshop or to register, contact Jonah Bornstein at (541) 531-0671 or visit the website:

For one more fabulous Schneberg experience on September 14, Garrison Keillor will read her poem “Biscuits” on the Writer’s Almanac that day. You can read her poem now or hear it on the website

For information about Schneberg’s reading at Bloomsbury call (541) 488-0029.

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Ashland Book and Author Festival Coming Soon

Writers, readers and folks who love them, get ready for a party. The Ashland Book and Author Festival is almost here. On Saturday, September 20, from 10-4 pm at Southern Oregon University’s Hannon Library. Nearly 100 authors, book sellers, publishers, and artists from Southern Oregon gather for a day of discussion, workshops and celebration of books and book-related arts, all showcased within the beautiful Hannon Library. Authors of all genres, publishers, artists and booksellers come together to showcase their work and support the community of writers.

Created by Hannon Library and the Friends of Hannon Library, this festive literary event is its third year.

For a list of participants in this year’s event, click on the link below:

For more information call 541-552-6816 or email

The Hannon Library is located at 1250 Siskiyou Blvd., Ashland.

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Poet Laureate Peter Sears in Ashland

Poets and poetry lovers, mark your calendars. Our new Poet Laureate is coming to town. Peter Sears will read from his latest book, “Small Talk: New and Selected Poems” on Friday September 12, 7:30-9:00 pm at the Ashland Public library. The event, presented by Friends of the Ashland Public Library, is free and open to the public.

In April of this year, Sears succeeded Paulann Peterson as Oregon’s seventh Poet Laureate. Sears expects to give numerous public readings and work to educate citizens as well as business and state leaders about poetry’s value and importance to Oregon’s culture.

Sears came to Oregon in 1974 to teach creative writing at Reed College, and has gone on to do many poetry workshops and readings at public schools, libraries, colleges, community centers and literary festivals throughout the state. He is the founder of the Oregon Literary Coalition and co-founder of Friends of William Stafford and Cloudbank Books. He teaches in the MFA program at Pacific University

“Small Talk” includes poems from his previous collections, and adds thirty new poems. Fans of Sears’ work will be thrilled to find many familiar favorites and all with his disarming, comic and surprising voice.

For more information contact the Ashland Library at 541-774-6996 or visit

Wait, there’s more. Sears is a generous poet and the following day, Saturday, September 13 from 9:30-to 11 am he will present a poetry workshop, “Ways of Revising,” in the Gresham room at the Ashland Library. The cost for the workshop is $20 and limited to 20 participants.

In the workshop, Sears will present some of his own poems that presented difficulties and discuss revisions he made to resolve problems and allow the poems their full development. Participants should bring one original poem to work with revision strategies.

Revising work is something most poets struggle with and having a master of tight, finely tuned poetry to offer advice and constructive criticism is a gift.

To register for the workshop send $20 check payable to Chautauqua Poets & Writers
c/o Ingrid Laursen, 1157 Iowa Street, Ashland, OR 97520. Include your name, address, email and phone number. You can also email the information to

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The joys of journal writing

Journal writing is both a cathartic release and great way to explore your own creative process. Best of all, it just feels good to write. Though journal writing seems like an easy thing, it can be both daunting and frustrating. Fortunately, there are professionals such as certified journal facilitator Linda Barnes who can offer techniques to jump-start a journal writing habit and use that journal to express ourselves and explore our creativity.

Barnes, an educator and writer is facilitating a Journal to the Self® group Mondays, 6-8 pm at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in Ashland September 8-Sept. 29. The group, based on the work of psychologist and author Kathleen Adams and her book “Journal to the Self,” is designed to give participants techniques to help them get started journaling or to use their journal writing for deeper exploration or creativity. “There are so many benefits to journal writing, whether it’s stress relief, working through a personal issue, or exploring a creative process. You learn to speak to yourself, trust yourself and listen,” said Barnes. “It’s quite empowering,” she added.

With journaling, there is no end-product, the participants are not required to complete a memoir or write a short story, says Barnes. “Our focus is on the process, not the end result. I’ll help guide the group and offer techniques, but the rest is up to each individual. There’s no wrong way to do this,” she said. Barnes emphasizes that no one will be required to share their writing with the group if they do not wish to. “It’s a confidential place,” she said. “It’s not a therapy group, but writing is therapeutic. My role as facilitator is to create a safe and respectful environment,” she added.

I like the idea of journaling, and I have lots of lovely journals that I write in loyally for about a week, then I forget about them or feel resentful that I have nothing fascinating to put in them. Barnes says I’m not alone. “A lot of people think keeping a journal is sitting down and writing off the top of your head, but that’s the hardest way to do it,” she said. The Journal to the Self group will offer writing prompts and guidance to ease the frustration that can come with journaling. “Once you get started, it’s amazing how versatile and fun journal writing can be. With this kind of writing, you’re the audience, you have all the power,” said Barnes.

For more information and to register, contact Barnes at (541) 941-3979. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship is located at 87 4th Street, Ashland.

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Poetry with TED

I’m a huge fan of the online TED Talks, and each member of my family has their favorite topics to watch from skateboarding to architecture to comic books. I recently went on a TED Talk binge, watching nearly everything I could find related to my favorite subject, poetry. There are loads of them, and here’s a list of my top 5 faves:

*Why People Need Poetry, Stephen Burt
Burt, a professor and literary critic shares his favorite poems and discusses the beauty and life-changing power of poetry. “We’re all going to die,” he says, “and poems can help us live with that.” Burt is funny and heart warmingly passionate about poetry and language.

*If I Should Have a Daughter, Sarah Kay

Sparkling spoken word poet Sarah Kay talks about falling in love with spoken word poetry at the age of 14, performing at New York’s Bowery Poetry Club, finding her voice as a poet and later becoming a teacher connecting kids with the power of self-expression through Project V.O.I.C.E. Along the way, she gives two powerful performances of her own work.

*Everyday Moments Caught in Time, Billy Collins

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins shares a project in which several of his poems were turned into animated films in a collaboration with Sundance Channel. Witty, thoughtful and deeply funny, this short talk is a real treat.

*To This Day, For the Bullied and the Beautiful, Shane Koyczan
Koyczan talks about what it’s like to be young and different in “To This Day,” his spoken-word poem about bullying. The poem is also a viral video created, crowd-source style, by 80 animators from around the world. In the TED version, he offers a gorgeous reprise with backstory and violin accompaniment.

*High School Training Ground, Malcom London.
Young poet and activist Malcom London performs his thought-provoking poem about life in an urban high school. He tells of the “oceans of adolescence” who come to school “but never learn to swim,” of “masculinity mimicked by men who grew up with no fathers.” He is a strong and passionate poet, with finely crafted language and a clever approach to a difficult topic.

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“Lunch Poems” Turns 50

Frank O’Hara’s famous collection, “Lunch Poems,” has been reissued in a 50th anniversary hardcover edition, and it’s a treat for O’Hara fans and anyone who wants an engaging peek at 1950’s and 60’s pop art and culture and politics. The title refers to both O’Hara’s tendency to write the poems while sitting in Times Square during his lunch hour, as well as the ease in which someone could enjoy the collection during his or her own lunch hour.
O’Hara was a well-regarded art critic as well as writer and poet who became a strong figure in the New York School, a group of artists, musicians and writers inspired by contemporary art movements, jazz and surrealism. New York School poets included John Ashberry, Kenneth Koch, Alice Notley, Barbara Guest and Ted Berrigan. His work is noted for its urbane, conversational tone, though that easygoing tone can disguise a whip-sharp attention to formal detail and some biting social and political commentary. The entire collection is witty, smart and, at times, hilarious as he writes of movie icons of the era, New York daily life, music and even telephone calls from friends.
The anniversary of “Lunch Poems” comes with a selection of letters between O’Hara and City Lights publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti. The letters give readers an inside peek at the collaboration process between these two writers, and O’Hara’s concerns about craft and quality. They also illustrate the great patience of Ferlinghetti as O’Hara completed the book nearly two years later than intended.
“Lunch Poems” includes some of O’Hara’s most popular poems, including “The Day Lady Died,” “Ave Maria” and “Poem (Lana Turner Has Collapsed!).”

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The Applegate is rich with poetry this summer

Not that anyone needs an excuse to travel to the gorgeous Applegate Valley, but poetry is an excellent reason for a road trip. The Applegate Poets will present a reading on Sunday, July 27 from 3pm to 4 pm, in the community meeting room of the Applegate Branch Library.

The poems will consider aspects of living in the Applegate Valley. The poets reading are Diana Coogle, Gabriella Eagleson, Heather Murphy, Joan Peterson, Kirsten Shockey and Paul Tipton. Expect a pleasant hour of vibrant poetry in a charming setting. Then maybe afterward, enjoy the sights and maybe a glass of wine or two in one of the prettiest valleys in Oregon.

Speaking of wine and the sunny Applegate, the second annual Wine & Words poetry reading at Barking Moon Farm is Saturday, August 16th, 6:30 pm to 10:30 pm. The event will feature farm-to-table appetizers with Barking Moon produce and local wines.

Fourteen southern oregon poets and storytellers will read from their original work. The evening will be a treat for poetry fans, foodies, wine lovers or anyone who wants to spend a late summer evening in a beautiful setting.

The event takes place in the Barn at Barking Moon Farm, 5960 Thompson Creek Road.
A $15 entry includes one drink and appetizers. For more information or to RSVP contact Melissa Matthewson at or call (541) 973-6915.

For information about library reading 541-846-7346 or visit The Applegate Branch Library is located at 18485 North Applegate Rd., Applegate, OR

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    Angela Decker

    Angela Decker's poems have appeared in African Voices, Comstock Review, Hip Mama, The Wisconsin Review, Jefferson Monthly, and others. She occasionally teaches poetry writing at Southern Oregon University and shares the arts & literature column ... Read Full
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