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: www.threewayconversation.org.

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 http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org.

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 www.jcls.org.

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 chautauquawriters@gmail.com.

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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 melmatthewson@gmail.com or call (541) 973-6915.

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

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Poets dig dogs

Dogs are amazing, loveable shaggy wonders, and it’s no surprise that poets spend a great deal of time writing about them. Recently, I was helping a friend search for a poetry collection to give her dog-adoring mom, and I was happily surprised to find some thought-provoking, insightful and sensitive collections for dog-crazy, poetry lovers.

“Dog Songs,” by Mary Oliver.One of the world’s bestselling and beloved poets offers 35 short poems and one elegant essay that explore our relationship with dogs and the easy joy they bring to our lives. Like most of Oliver’s work, nature and our human connection with it infuses her work. These are lovely, thoughtful poems that readers can sink into. Oliver has spent most of her life with a dog at her side, and this collection celebrates their companionship and the wild spirit that lurks in even the tamest lap-dog. In her essay “Dog Talk,” she writes. “They are a kind of poetry themselves when they are devoted not only to us but to the wet night, to the moon and the rabbit-smell in the grass and their own bodies leaping forward.”

“Dogs Singing: A Tribute Anthology,” edited by Jessie Lendennie. This is a dog-friendly party of modern poets with work that celebrates our canine buddies. Contributors include Alicia Ostriker, Stephen Dobyns, Maxine Kumin, J.P. Dancing Bear, Ted Kooser. C.L. Williams and many others. Proceeds from the purchase of this lovely book go to support animal shelters around the world.

“Love That Dog,” by Sharon Creech. One of my son’s favorite books, “Love That Dog” is Written as a series of free-verse poems from a young boy’s point of view, tells how he grows into a writer with the help of his teacher, some yellow paper, and a dog. The book is a great tool for teachers and students, and the back matter includes some classic poetry and a glossary of poetry terms. Best of all, it offers the enduring lesson that writing can be fun, especially with a dog at your side.

“I Could Chew on This: And Other Poems by Dogs, by Francesco Marciuliano. My kids begged me to add this companion piece to Marciuliano’s bestseller, “I Could Pee on This: And Other Poems by Cats.”It’s a goofy, lighthearted collection of rhymes (I am snobbishly hesitant to use the word “poems) in the voices of dogs as they share their feeling about walks, being left alone, eating dirty diapers and their complicated relationship with cats. I admit, I laughed at a several of these and was charmed by the quirky titles and adorable photos.

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Oregon writers, submit!

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Literary Arts, the organization that runs the Portland Arts & Lectures series and the Oregon Book Awards, will award an additional $30,000 to writers as part of its 2015 Oregon Book Awards and Fellowships program. According to a recent press release from Literary Arts, nearly $60,000 in 2015 will be granted to support and celebrate Oregon’s writers and publishers.

Since 1993, The Oregon Book Awards and Oregon Literary Fellowships have honored over 500 Oregon writers and publishers and distributed more than $700,000 in fellowships and awards.

The deadline to submit books for the 2015 Oregon Book Awards is August 29. Books written by Oregon writers, with an original publication date between August 1, 2013 and July 31, 2014, are eligible. Awards will be presented in the following genres: fiction, poetry, general nonfiction, creative nonfiction, children’s literature, and young adult literature.

Submission guidelines can be found at literary-arts.org.

For more information, contact Susan Denning at susan@literary-arts.org.

The 2015 Oregon Book Awards finalists and Oregon Literary Fellowship recipients will be announced in January 2015.

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Fun and fabulous open mic tomorrow

For folks who want to share their poems, hear some poems and meet fellow poetry lovers in a friendly and inviting space, the Downtowne Coffee House in Talent is ideal. The second Thursday of every month. The coffee house hosts an “open-mic-without-a-mic.” This month, the open mic is July 10, tomorrow. Sign ups begin at 6:30 and readings at 7. The Downtowne Coffee House is at 200 Talent Avenue, in Talent.

They organizers usually offer a theme, which people happily ignore. Though if you have a poem that fits this month’s theme, “Lazy Hazy Days of Summer,” bring it.

There aren’t a lot of rules, though there is a time limit, so try to avoid bringing those epic poems or reading more than two or three short ones.

The open mic is a great place to check out other poets’ chapbooks as well as sell your own, so if you have a chapbook bring a few and if you don’t check out the work of your fellow poets.

For information about the Downtown Open Mic or its other events, call the Downtowne at (541) 535-2299.

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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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