Writers, submit

The “Timberline Review,” a new literary journal published by the Oregon-based writing group Willamette Writers is seeking new work from established and emerging writers, so it is time to fearlessly send them your poetry, essays, creative nonfiction and short fiction

For full guidelines and online submission details visit timberlinereview.com/submissions. Submissions are free for Willamette Writers members or a mere $5 for non-members. The deadline for the summer 2015 issue is March 31. That’s plenty of time to polish your work or create something new.

According to its website, “Timberline Review” offers a rich variety of voices and is looking for work that inspires a conversation with the times we live. Our southern Oregon region is loaded with poets and writers whose work does all that and more.

To join Willamette Writers or learn more about the organization’s conferences, contests and events visit http://willamettewriters.com.

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SOU creative writing faculty present their work

Southern Oregon University’s Schneider Museum is showcasing work by the Creative Arts faculty as well as hosting a series of talks and readings. This Thursday, February 19 at 5:30 pm, Robert Arellano, Kasey Mohammed and Craig Wright will read and discuss their poetry and stories. Don’t miss these talented, engaging and whip-smart writers.

Arellano is a 2014 Oregon Literary Fellowship recipient in fiction and the author of six novels, including the 2010 Edgar Award finalist “Havana Lunar.” His stories have been published in a number of great magazines such as “Tin House,” “Jane,” and “The Believer,” as well as selected for anthologies by editors such as Joyce Carol Oates and Julio Ortega.

Mohammad is the author of several books of poetry, including “Deer Head Nation,” “Breathalyzer,” and my favorite, “The Sonnagrams” in which he uses anagrams of Shakespeare’s sonnets and creates all-new, wild and beautiful sonnets in iambic pentameter. He is also editor of the poetry magazine “Abraham Lincoln” and faculty editor of the “West Wind Review.”

Wright is a short story writer, songwriter and fantastic musician. He is the author of the novel “Redemption Center,” and has published stories in national journals and magazines such as “Fourteen Hills,” “The Harvard Advocate” and “BlazeVox.”

To encourage participation in this and upcoming events, SOU is offering a student challenge. Attend at least four of the presentations and enter punch card in a raffle for a chance to win a signed Miles Inada print, a $25 Case Coffee Roasters gift card or a $25 Senor Sam’s gift card. It’s a trifecta of perfect prizes, art, coffee or food.

Future events include:
Thursday, February 26, 5:30 PM: Creative Arts Faculty Lecture: Warren Hedges, “Video Games as Platforms for Storytelling.”

Thursday, March 5, 5:30 PM: Creative Arts faculty Lecture: Rene Allen

Admission to Thursday’s reading is free and open to the public. For more information call (541) 552-6245 or visit sma.sou.edu.

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Young poets need your help

Hey poetry lovers, students at Crater Renaissance Academy of Arts and Sciences in Central Point are participating in the 2015 Poetry Out Loud competition and they need five fearless community members to judge this competition at the school on Friday, February 20th at 7:00 pm. It’s a great opportunity to help out some hardworking kids and to hear some great  poetry. Plus, they’ll serve you cookies and coffee, so it’s a win-win.

If you are able to assist with this terrific program email competition mentor and teacher Matthew Reynolds at matthew.reynolds@district6.org or call (541) 494-6348.

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Charles Darwin at the Ashland Library

Come celebrate Charles Darwin’s birthday with Charles Darwin himself. On Thursday February 12 from 12:30-1:30 at the Ashland Library, local poet, writer and evolutionary biologist Pepper Trail will present a performance in the character of the English naturalist whose ideas on evolution and natural selection changed the way people viewed themselves and the world around them. In his performance “Voyage to the Origin of the Species: Reminiscences of Charles Darwin,” Trail dresses and speaks as Darwin, bringing history to life as he draws heavily on Darwin’s own writings, which, in addition to their scientific value, are rich and lyrical.

I can’t say enough good things about Pepper Trail. He is a gifted and thoughtful poet, whose direct, concrete work celebrates the wilderness and calls for us to take responsibility in our environment. His decades-long fascination with and understanding of Darwin’s life has shaped his performance as he channels Darwin, recounting how a country childhood, a life-changing sea voyage and a vibrant circle of friends and colleagues led him to the insights that revolutionized our understanding of the world.

Trail is wicked smart and holds a doctorate in evolutionary biology and ornithology from Cornell University. He is an ornithologist at the U.S. National Fish and Wildlife Forensics Laboratory in Ashland. Primary sources for his talk are Darwin’s own writings and the authoritative two-volume biography of Darwin by Janet Browne.

The Ashland public Library is located at 410 Siskiyou Blvd., in Ashland. For more information call the library at (541) 774-6996.

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Share your love poems at Downtowne Coffee House

It’s the season of love poems, and the Coffee House Poets are hosting their monthly open-mic at 6:30 p.m., on Thursday, February 12 at the Downtowne Coffee House in Talent. This month’s suggested poetry theme is “What is Love.” Poets can share their romantic writing or completely ignore the theme and share whatever the heck they wish. Though really, a good love poem is always a treat.

This is a terrific group of supportive poets and a great mix of regulars and newbies. If you’ve never read your work in public, the Downtowne Coffee House is one of the warmest and most welcoming venues in the area.

The Downtowners also have two contests for participants. One is just for poets who can truthfully write the sentence “I have never won a prize in a poetry contest” on their entries. The other is for everyone else.

The rules are simple and few:
1. Each entry must have been premiered at the Downtowners’ open mic.
2. Submit two copies. The first includes name, full address, phone number, and email address. The second will not have any author identification.
3. There is no limit to the number of submissions, but the poems must have been read at the open mic. There is no fee for entering. Prizes are funded out of audience donations.
4. The deadline for the 2015 contest is March 12, 2015.
5. Prizes will be awarded at the coffee house on April 9, 2015.

The Downtowne Coffee House is at 200 Talent Avenue, in Talent. For more information call (541) 535-2299.

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Applegate Library offers self-publishing workshop

If any of you talented Rogue Valley writers are considering self-publishing a book, head over to the Applegate library Sunday, Feb. 1, at 2:00 for a two-hour workshop on self-publishing with Amazon’s CreateSpace.

Local poet and editor Amy Miller has loads of self-publishing experience and she’ll guide students through basic book design, common errors to avoid, the twists and turns of setting up a book in CreateSpace, building an Amazon page and the pros and cons of self-publishing.

Miller is the author of nine chapbooks of poetry and prose. A longtime book editor and print designer, she has recently published three books using Amazon’s CreateSpace. Her writing has appeared in journals such “Rattle,” “ZYZZYVA,” to “Asimov’s Science Fiction” and “Fine Gardening.” Her article “10 Chapbook Design Tips Every Poet Should Know” appears in multiple editions of the Poet’s Market.

I’ve taken a number of workshops from Miller and she’s a super organized, savvy and inspirational teacher. In addition to exploring Create Space, she’ll also discuss other similar platforms like Lulu and Lightning Source. The workshop is free and open to the public. Be prepared to take notes and have your questions ready.

For more information call the Applegate Library at (541) 846-7346.

The library is located at 18485 N. Applegate Rd., Applegate OR

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Community gathers for William Stafford celebration

January 17 marks the birthday of Oregon’s beloved poet, the late William Stafford, and the Rogue Valley will join the nation in celebrating Stafford and his incredible body of work.

Our local celebration will take place at SOU Hannon Library’s Meese Meeting Room 305, at 7:00 p.m., on Thursday January 29.

The program will begin with a cello performance by composer Daniel Sperry, and will feature Rogue Valley poets including Pepper Trail, Amy Miller, Michael Jenkins, Julian Spalding, and Ashland High School poet Samara Diad. Audience members will then be invited to read one of their favorite Stafford poems.

The audience participation in the event is part of what makes the Stafford celebrations so special, says Amy MacLennan, who has been attending the event for several years, “I love the William Stafford celebrations. It’s a pleasure to hear local poets read a favorite Stafford poem along with one of their own. The pairings are unexpected and delightful.”

Stafford, who died in 1993, is Oregon’s most famous poet and considered one of the most important American poets of the late 20th century. Winner of numerous awards and honors, he served as Oregon’s poet laureate for 16 years. His first major collection of poetry, “Traveling Through the Dark,” was published when he was 48 years old and won a National Book Award.

The event celebrating his life and work draws community members of all ages. His deceptively simple language speaks to everyone, and beautifully articulates our human connections. Stafford celebrations take place across the U.S. and abroad every year around this time. MacLennan adds that the events are a gift to the community. “They define a great poet’s legacy, and these readings are such a tremendous cultural resource to honor his work each year,” she said.

If you are not familiar with Stafford’s work, go to the Ashland library and check him out. Stafford was prolific, authoring 67 volumes in his lifetime, each one loaded with gorgeous poems. One of my favorite collections is “The Darkness Around Us Is Deep.” The poems offer rich reflections on family, nature, and the mysteries of our place in the world. It’s one of those books I get something new out of every time I read it. Or simply wait until the 29th and join the party. It’s a terrific opportunity to hear his work read aloud and enjoy the works of some of the local poets Stafford inspired.

The event is free to the public and sponsored by Friends of Hannon Library and Friends of William Stafford. For more information call (541) 552-6816.

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Student Poetry Contest

Teachers, grab your students and let them bust out some poems for the 2015 Oregon Poetry Association’s Student Poetry Contest.

The contest is open to all Oregon students, kindergarten through 12th grade. There is no entry fee, and the postmark deadline for entries is February 10, 2015.

In addition to bragging rights, ten winners in each of four age categories will receive $10 cash prizes. All of the winning poems will be published in “Cascadia: The Oregon Student Poetry Contest Anthology.” Each winner will receive a certificate and a copy of the anthology.

The winning poems in both the middle and high school divisions are also eligible and will be sent to the annual Manningham Trust Student Contest sponsored by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies . This national competition also awards cash prizes and publication in an anthology.

Students can enter the contest individually, though writing poetry to enter in the contest is typically a class project organized by teachers.

The contest is great fun for kids as well as teachers, and it gives our kids a chance to showcase their talent and creativity. The contest rules and submission guidelines are below.

2015 Oregon Student Poetry Contest Rules
Division I: Kindergarten – Grade 2
Division II: Grade 3 – Grade 5
Division III: Grade 6 – Grade 8
Division IV: Grade 9 – Grade 12

Submit one original poem (your own individual creative work) on any subject, in any style or form, with a maximum of 40 lines. The poem must be titled, except for haiku, senryu, or limerick.

Type or word process your poem on a single sheet of standard 8 1/2 X 11 white paper, one side only, in a standard type face; no fancy fonts, graphics, or illustrations.

Send two copies of your poem. On the first copy, in the upper right hand corner, type your category (I, II, III, or IV) and grade level, name, school, school address and phone number, and the name (first and last) of your writing teacher.

Also on this copy, type, and sign the following statement: This poem is my own original creative work and has not been copied, in whole or in part, from any other author’s work, including poems posted on the Internet.

On the second copy, type the category and grade level only—check to make sure your name does not appear anywhere on this copy.

Mail to: Oregon Poetry Association
P.O. Box 1775
Corvallis, OR 97339
The deadline is February 10, 2015 (postmarked).

For more contest information visit the OPA website at http://oregonpoets.org/contests/student-contest/ .

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Ashland Sketches offers a wild mix of art

Ashland poets, writers, dancers, visual artists and others can check out “Ashland Sketches: Second Sunday Showcase,” a monthly gathering of artists and eager audience members that welcomes new work, improvisations, collaborations and experimental projects.

The first showcase of the year is Sunday, January 11. Each month, the Showcase folks invite about five participants of varying genres. For example, there may be a musician, an aerialist, a poet, a dance group, a short film, or visual artist. Each performer gets the stage for ten minutes. The finale involves an improvised mix of the participating artists, and the evening closes with a ten minute panel discussion and a happily satisfied audience.

For more information visit the Showcase Facebook page at www.facebook.com/ashlandsketches or email the Showcase organizer Rob Head at robert.head@gmail.com

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Resolutions for writers

With the new year coming on fast, writers are dusting off pens and laptops, and considering writing goals for 2015. I spoke to a few poets and novelists about their goals and they were all surprisingly similar. Here is a list of six popular and achievable writerly resolutions.

1. Make time to write. There’s a saying an old teacher of mine would often share, “If you don’t write when you don’t have time for it, you won’t write when you do.” We’re all crazy busy, but even taking 10 minutes a day to write, whether it’s in a journal or adding a few more lines to that novel or poem, will make a difference. Not only will a few minutes a day add up pretty quickly, the practice can easily turn into a habit. If you feel stuck at the idea of writing something linear, simply jot down an outline or do some writing exercises.

2. Write what you want to write. Don’t worry about what other people want. Your job is to create and share the work of your heart, show all the scars. If others are moved, well then that is nice, too.

3. Revise your work. Edit as you write or do it all at the end of the draft; it doesn’t really matter. Nothing is too precious to hack out or fix in some way. What’s important is that you can look at your work and recognize how to make it better.

4. Step out of your comfort zone.
Whether you write fiction on poetry or nonfiction or some combination of all genres, it’s healthy to step off the path at times and try a different genre or style or writing or even a different art form altogether. Stepping out of your boundaries and surprising yourself a little, will limit stagnation and help you grow as an artist.

5. Read. Maybe read even more than you write. You’re honing your craft and learning from all the masters who came before you. Reading good writing is not only helpful it is darn inspiring.

6. Don’t be hard on yourself. Focus on what you do accomplish this year, not on your failures. Writing is difficult, and sharing it is even harder. Pat yourself on the back for having found something that you love and for sticking to it.

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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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