Saturday, October 13, 2007

Ursula K. Le Guin

Introduction by Marianne Klekacz

Tonight’s guest, Ursula K. Le Guin, is an icon of American literature. This isn’t just my opinion: In 2000, Ursula was awarded “Living Legend” status by the Library of Congress.

Since you’re here tonight, I’m assuming you read the pre-event publicity. If I were to use this time enumerating Ursula’s publications and awards, there would be no time left for her to read, and that would be a great loss to all of us. So instead, I’d like to try to put a little perspective around her body of work.

Had Ursula been writing in a different time, her audience might have been completely different. In the 1950s, fiction of the genres we now call fantasy or science fiction were generally relegated to magazines with names like Amazing Stories or Astounding. Science fiction in particular was generally read by boys and young men that we would now call geeks or nerds. But some things happened that changed all of that, at least in the United States.

In 1957, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. Sputnik might have been just a “beeping soccer ball” (as it has been described), but it raised a little thrill of fear that the U.S. was falling behind in the technology race. When JFK was elected President in 1960, one of his first major program announcements was his determination to put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. Suddenly space exploration and other worlds were in the forefront of the public’s imagination, opening the door of mainstream literary status to writers like Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and, of course, Ursula K. Le Guin.

Ursula began publishing in the early 1960s. There are two major awards in the science-fiction/fantasy genres. Each year, the Hugo is awarded to the book that readers select as the best; the Nebula is awarded to the book selected as best by writers in the genres. Seldom are both awards won by the same book.

It happened for the first time in 1965 when Frank Herbert’s Dune won both. The next two times it happened, the books selected were by Ursula K. Le Guin: The Left Hand of Darkness in 1969 (coincidentally the year that the U.S. actually did land men on the moon), and The Dispossessed in 1974.

It seems to me that Ursula’s books represent what is most thought-provoking and worthwhile in imaginative fiction. They force us to explore what it really means to be human. She has earned her own lecture in The Teaching Company course “Masterpieces of the Imaginative Mind: Literature’s Most Fantastic Works.” Here is how Professor Eric Rabkin summarizes her work:

“Le Guin induces us to adopt changes of viewpoint, shaping an aesthetic experience that can change our attitudes toward language, gender, human relations, and personal morality.”

It seems to me that this might be the most important function of literature across the ages.
Please join me in welcoming Ursula K. Le Guin.

Ursula K. Le Guin's website

China MiƩville interviews UKL about her life and work for BBC Radio 4, 17 March 2009.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Paul Chasman

When I sat down with The Book of Bob, I had no idea what to expect. What I found was a skillful interweaving (I believe the term du jour is “mashup”) of themes I had previously encountered in books such as Another Roadside Attraction, Dr. Strangelove, and The Days of the Late, Great State of California. The Book of Bob has them all.

Satire and irony are two slightly different things, but Paul Chasman has clearly mastered both. He calls upon his experience as a prolific writer of letters over a four-year period to President Bush and others prominent in the political and business scenes of our modern world to pour out a little morality tale that’s certain to make you laugh, even if what you really feel like doing is crying.

I don’t think I’ll be spoiling anything for anyone by noting that the greatest weapon of mass destruction in The Book of Bob is the cockiness of the Chosen Leader of the Free Nation. For those of you who have read the book, the pun is deliberate. For those of you who haven’t, don’t miss an opportunity to pick one up tonight.

But tonight’s show, “Helluva Deal,” is more than just a reading, just as Paul Chasman is more than “just a writer.” Musician, composer, teacher, Paul brings a wealth of skills to entertain you tonight.

And I suspect when he’s finished, you’ll join me in saluting him: [clap] [snap] “Helluva deal!”
So get comfortable and ready to be entertained.

For more information about Paul Chasman:

Introduction by Marianne Klekacz
Photo by Carla Perry

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Hot Flashes

"Flashbacks! The Musical" is the long-awaited sequel to Hot Flashes, the Musical, which performed to sold out audiences in Newport in both 2003 and 2004. Flashbacks! is another multimedia musical comedy by writers/producers Kate Finn and Rick Weiss.

Flashbacks! takes off where Hot Flashes ended, and has continued to wow sold-out audiences in Portland since its premier in 2006. The musical uses humor, reminiscence and a broad spectrum of musical styles to present lively women embracing the challenges of aging and celebrating the second half of their lives. Flashbacks! is definitely geared toward women in the afternoon of their youth and is a great excuse for a girls-night-out.

The cast and band features several members from the Hot Flashes cast, including Kate Finn on vocals and numerous instruments; bass-slingin, singin' grandma Marvella McPartland; and Loose Wimmin drummer Pam Krieg. In addition, the cast stars Loose Wimmin's R&B belter Kate Sullivan; pianist Rick Weiss; and newcomer Sharon Maroney, co-founder and artistic director of the Broadway Rose Theatre. The show is directed by Allen Nause of Artists Repertory Theatre, and choreographed by Dan Murphy of the Broadway Rose Theatre.

Rick Weiss wrote and performed with Summer Angels, Some Are Not! from 1988 to 1996, singing "bad lounge songs" backwards as Dick Lexia. Since then he has played keyboards for Jungle Jim and the Swingset and taught songwriting in the schools through Community of Writers. Rick currently teaches private piano and drum lessons.

Kate Finn also wrote and performed with the Fallen Angel Choir, and Summer Angels, Some Are Not! from 1986 to 1996. Since then she has performed with the all-ages dance band Jungle Jim and the Swing Set, conducted songwriting/cd-production workshops in local schools through Community of Writers, and worked as a licensed massage therapist. Rick Weiss and Kate Finn have both taught music in all styles to all ages for over 20 years.

Performed on July 19 2003 & July 17, 2004

Hot Flashes stars Kate Finn, Sharon Knorr, Marvella McPartland, Lynn Thomas, Pam Krieg, and Rick Weiss as the announcer.

"Still Hot, Still Flashing!"

The show follows the career of a five-woman band (The Hot Flashes) from their 40s to their 70s, as they sing about their lives in songs such as "I Want A Trophy Husband"; "In The Nude;" "It's a Dick Thing," "Love's The Bottom Line," and "Senior Moments."

Through outrageous humor, personal reflection, and a wide variety of musical styles (original and parody), Hot Flashes presents women embracing the challenges of aging and celebrating the second half of their lives with rollicking good humor. Even men will laugh out loud!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Carla Perry

CARLA PERRY founder of the Nye Beach Writers’ Series and Writers On The Edge, Inc.

With few exceptions, all writers seek recognition. Some hope that the quality of their work will bring this about, others crow mightily about themselves and take less pains with the work itself, still others are just damn lucky to be in the right place at the right time to write about some popular social phenomenon or person.

But how many quietly write well, win recognition, and also spend enormous time and energy promoting other writers?

Consider Carla Perry. After earning a BA in Poetry from the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop in 1970 and publishing her first collection of poetry, No Questions Asked, No Answers Given in 1971, she immersed herself in the life-experiences of marriage, typesetting, child-rearing, divorce, writing computer-software user manuals for Intel, research work for Bonneville Power Administration, and a long stint as co-editor/publisher of Wild Dog, An Erratic Publication of Unconventional Excellence, to alight at long-last in that veritable cosmic-vortex of artistic and philosophical miasma generally known as Yachats, Oregon.

After pondering her past and publishing her second book of poetry, Laughing Like Dogs, Carla was offered an opportunity to begin a writing event there. Thus, the Yachat's Writers’ Series was born. The Series was invited by the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts to relocate in Newport in 1999, and the name was changed to the Nye Beach Writer's Series to reflect the new locale.

With 150 regional, national and international writers successfully presented, Carla was named the winner of the 2002 Oregon Book Awards’ Stewart Holbrook Special Award for outstanding service to the literary community of Oregon.

She still had energy enough to write her first short story, which was anthologized in Scent of Cedars (released Fall 2002), publish poems and short nonfiction in the Pronghorn Press anthology Dense Growth 2002, and to have her interview of Ken Kesey published in Tin House #11, then translated into Romanian for the publication TIMPUL. She also received honorable mention for a poem submitted to the 2002 Kay Snow Awards for Poetry.

In 2003 Carla received the Governor's Art Award for "extraordinary achievement and commitment to Oregon's art," and a 2003 Oregon Literary Fellowship from Literary Arts, Inc. for her fiction.

If she sounds like a busy literary icon, that's because she is, efficiently assembling press releases, making contacts and sending invitations for the 2004 Nye Beach Writers’ Series season, while reading submissions and planning future workshops, special events and projects for the non-profit organization, Writers On The Edge, Inc. Although some snidely assert that she is a workaholic, Carla maintains that she is having fun, and would rather do this than go shopping, even though our President maintains shopping would be a higher expression of patriotism.

For additional information

Introduction by Scott Rosin
Photo by Ed Cameron

Matt Love

MATT LOVE lives on the Oregon Coast where he serves as caretaker of the Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge and publisher of Nestucca Spit Press. He is the author of parts 1 and 2 of the Beaver State Trilogy-"Grasping Wastrels vs. Beaches Forever Inc.: Covering the Fights for the Soul of the Oregon Coast"; and "The Far Out Story of Vortex I," a book that documents the "Biodegradable Festival of Life" held the summer of 1970 and attended by 100,000 people, the only state-sponsored rock festival in American history. He also wrote "Let it Pour: An Unconventional Drinking Guide to the North Oregon Coast."

Most recently, Matt compiled and edited the anthology Red Hot and Rollin’: A Restrospection of the Portland Trail Blazers’ 1976-1977 NBA Championship Season. Thirty years ago this month, the Portland Trailblazers won their first and only NBA championship. The following day, a quarter of a million fans spilled into downtown Portland in celebration, the largest public gathering in Oregon history.

The frenzy that surrounded the final weeks of the tournament became known as Blazermania. The term Rip City came to describe the incredible outpouring of energy that surrounded Portland’s only major professional ball team.

Sadly, the energy and community spirit that characterized the spring and summer of 1977 in Portland have largely faded into memory. But for Matt Love, who was 13 years old and living in Oregon City at the time, what a memory it is. He wants to share it with you.

In August 2003, Matt Love presented an Oregon Chautauqua on the 1970 Oregon State-sponsored rock festival called Vortex I with support from the Oregon Council for the Humanities. Now, with his newly published book in hand, Matt Love is on a 21-city book tour to promote The Far Out Story of Vortex I. We are honored to have him at the Dogwood tonight.

Back in 1970, rumor had it that President Nixon was to speak at the American Legion Convention in Portland, and the FBI told Governor Tom McCall he should expect 25,000 Legionnaires and 50,000 anti-war freaks which would produce a clash in the Rose City that would make Chicago 1968 look like a tea party. To avoid riots, burnings and murder, McCall, who was up for re-election, took the heroic step to work with the People's Army Jamboree and the Oregon National Guard to produce "Operation Tranquility."

Nixon did not show up, but Vortex I drew somewhere between 50,000 and 100,000 attendees (the event was free so entrance gates were not monitored). The gathering site was Milo McIver State Park, twenty miles east of Portland along the Clackamas River, just outside the small town of Estacada, Oregon. Vortex I turned out to be quite the legendary weeklong trip.

Now, thirty-four years later, Oregon author Matt Love has written "The Far Out Story of Vortex I," the second part of his projected Beaver State Trilogy, and the legend has become even more legendary.

Matt is the author of two other books: Grasping Wastrels vs. Beaches Forever Inc.: Covering the Fights for the Soul of the Oregon Coast (which is Part One of the Beaver State Trilogy), and Let it Pour: An Unconventional Drinking Guide to the North Oregon Coast." He also writes the "Stone Oregon" column that appears in several Oregon alternative monthlies and is a regular op-ed contributor and book reviewer for the Oregonian.

Matt Love has been a devoted volunteer at Nestucca Bay National Wildlife Refuge since 1998. As a refuge caretaker, he has organized and implemented several restoration projects and orchestrated the removal of acres of Himalayan blackberry. He has helped restore native forestland by planting thousands of trees within the refuge. In addition to his volunteer work, Matt serves as a technical assistant for the Nestucca-Neskowin Watershed Council. And, as of last week, began his career teaching English and Journalism at Taft High School.

Matt Love grew up in Oregon City and first heard about Vortex I in 1982 while playing hooky from high school at McIver Park. He believes his lifelong personal connection to the Vortex I story is "supernatural" and says, "The research and writing of this book has remade my entire personality. It transformed me from a pessimist, to trust faith, intuition and the power of love."

Photo by Carla Perry

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Monica Drake

Monica Drake has an MFA from the University of Arizona and teaches at the Pacific NW College of Art. She is a contributor of reviews and articles to The Oregonian, The Stranger, and the Portland Mercury and her fiction has appeared in the Beloit Fiction Review, Threepenny Review, The Insomniac Reader, and others. She has been the recipient of an Arizona Commission on the Arts Award, the Alligator Juniper Prize in Fiction, and a Millay Colony Fellowship, and was a Tennessee Williams scholar at Sewanee Writers Workshop. Her debut Novel, Clown Girl, is published by Hawthorne Books.

In "Clown Girl," her darkly comic debut novel released to rave review this month, Drake has created a protagonist who lives in a neighborhood so run down and penniless that drugs, balloon animals and even rubber chickens contribute to the local currency. Against a backdrop of petty crime, Clown Girl struggles to find her place in the world of high art. But all is not art in her life: in an effort to support herself and her under-employed performance-artist boyfriend, she is drawn into the world of paying jobs, and finds herself unwittingly turned into a "corporate clown."

To learn more about Monica or "Clown Girl" visit her website at

Kassten Alonso

Kassten Alonso was born in Seattle, Washington and graduated from Willamette University in Salem. Kassten has previously published in the Portland Mercury, Portland Monthly, and The Oregonian.

Kassten Alonso's novel, Core: A Romance, released in 2005, earned an Oregon Book Award nomination, and stands as one of the most arresting and harrowing Pacific Northwest novels to emerge in years. The novel's intense tale of obsession, betrayal, unrequited love, madness, and murder will captivate readers. After the novel's narrator becomes obsessed with his best friend's girlfriend, his already precarious hold on sanity rapidly deteriorates into delusion and violence. Alonso skillfully uses language to imitate memory and psychosis so that the reader is squarely inside the narrator's head. The result is a fiction experience unlike any other in recent memory. Kassten is currently working on his next novel.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Kathleen Dean Moore

Kathleen Dean Moore is Distinguished Professor of Philosophy at Oregon State University, and the founding director of the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature, and the Written Word. Her current work is in the areas of environmental ethics and philosophy and nature, where she has published three award-winning books of essays: The Pine Island Paradox (Milkweed Editions, 2004); Holdfast: At Home in the Natural World (Lyons Press, 1999, 2004); and Riverwalking: Reflections on Moving Water (Harcourt Brace, 1996). She is co-editor of a forthcoming collection of articles about Rachel Carson's legacy and challenge and the co-editor of How It Is: A Native American Philosophy, the collected papers of the late Viola Cordova.

By combining personal narrative with natural history and philosophical inquiry, Moore brings environmental philosophy to a general audience in journals that range from Orion, Discover, Field and Stream, Audubon, and Wild Earth to the North American Review, the New York Times Magazine, and Interdisciplinary Studies in Literature and the Environment.

At Oregon State, Moore teaches the Philosophy of Nature, a field course that meets beside a Cascades Mountain lake; Environmental Ethics, a community-based projects course; and Critical Thinking. She coordinates a university/community lecture course on Native American Philosophies. Off-campus, in a variety of landscapes from interior Alaska to the Apostle Islands, Moore teaches the art of the nature essay.

Moore's Ph.D., from the University of Colorado, is in the philosophy of law, where her particular interest is in the nature of forgiveness and reconciliation. Her book, Pardons: Justice, Mercy, and the Public Interest (Oxford UP, 1989, 1997) outlines a justice-based argument for pardons.

Long interested in innovative teaching, Moore is a "Master Teacher" and the recipient of the highest teaching honor bestowed by alumni, the "OSU Alumni Distinguished Professor Award." She is the author of two textbooks that connect the skills of critical thinking and effective writing, Reasoning and Writing and Patterns of Inductive Reasoning: Developing Critical Thinking Skills.

Kathleen and her husband Frank, an OSU biologist, have two grown children, Erin, an architectural designer, and Jonathan, an aquatic ecologist. They are all wild for anything wet--big rivers, small boats, desert canyons, and the edges of the sea.

For more information