Windfall Reading Series: 2008
- January 2008: Vern Rutsala and Sara Burant
- February 2008: Lotte Streisinger and C.A. Gilbert
- March 2008: John Keeble and Dianne Stepp
- April 2008: Charles Goodrich and Kelly Terwilliger
- May 2008: Nance Van Winckle and Lisa Rosen
- September 2008: Toni Van Deusen and Gary Lark
- October 2008: Tom Crawford and Candice Favilla
- November 2008: John Witte and Stephanie Lenox
Giving Voice to the Inner Life
Vern Rutsala and Sara Burant to Read
On January 15, two poets who excel at embodying the secret lives of the self without diminishing any mysteries will read for the Windfall Reading Series. The free reading is from 7-9 pm in the Bascom-Tykeson Room of the downtown library.
Portland poet Vern Rutsala, author of 16 books, says: “Writing poetry or practicing any of the arts is an individualizing process. Those parts of yourself that the larger world has little use for, your inner life, that’s where poems come from.”
In an interview with National Public Radio, Rutsala voiced his opinion that “a poem doesn’t really, fully exist until it connects with at least one other person.” Rutsala’s poems, which often portray the lives of ordinary working-class people leading complicated lives, have managed to connect with many. Fellow poet Donald Justice observed that, in his view, Rutsala “should be an example to us all” for his ability “to put to maximum use the simplest things in our lives.”
Although he was born in McCall, Idaho, Rutsala has lived in Oregon most of his life and attended high school here. After teaching at Lewis & Clark College for over 40 years, Rutsala retired in 2004. In 2005 The Moment’s Equation was selected as one of five finalists for the National Book Award. His other awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship, two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, a Masters Fellowship from the Oregon Arts Commission, the Oregon Book Award, and the Northwest Poets Prize. In 1990 Rutsala was awarded the only master’s fellowship that the Oregon Arts Commission has ever awarded to a writer.
Sara Burant grew up in Wisconsin and studied English at Marquette University. In 1983 she moved to Eugene where she completed her degree at the Honors College of the University of Oregon. She began writing poetry only after reaching the age of 40.
Burant approaches the self obliquely, often placing the speaker of her poems in a landscape that reflects their thoughts or feelings. Both the watery landscape of Wisconsin’s lakes and the forests and meadows of the Pacific Northwest inform the lush, descriptive power of her poems. Place becomes a metaphor, leading the reader from a description of the outer to a revelation of the inner.
Family, loss, and a yearning for spiritual release are frequent topics in Burant’s poems. When asked about the spiritual dimension in her work, she described her belief that “the world and events in our lives are infused, sometimes pierced, with meaning. Poetry is a means of waking us up to that meaning.”
Burant’s poems have been published in Calyx, Red Rock Review, Ruah, Snowy Egret, and Potomac Review. One of her poems was selected for an exhibit of poetry and the visual arts at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Portland. The event, which was co-sponsored by the Friends of William Stafford, included a chapbook, Peace, Peace to the Far and to the Near.
Sara lives in Eugene with her husband, two dogs, and a cranky old cat.
The Poet and the Potter: Ways of Summoning the Muse
Lotte Streisinger and C.A. Gilbert to Read
On February 19 from 7-9 pm, the Windfall Reading Series presents Lotte Streisinger and C.A. Gilbert in a free reading in the Eugene Public Library’s Bascom-Tykeson Room. Hearing from a ceramicist-writer and a baker-poet should make for an interesting, unusual, and tasty mix of talents.
Lotte Streisinger’s The Potter and the Muse (2006) is a lively, informative, and original discussion of the creative process illustrated through the medium of clay. Art historian Libby Dawson Farr says that in The Potter and the Muse, “pottery is a metaphor for artistic expression in all of its infinite forms” and touts the book for its potential “as an inspiration for my students–artists, aspiring artists, writers and poets, who will learn about mining their resources, experiences and repertoire of skills.”
Streisinger’s first book, From the Sidelines (2004), is a personal history of the UO’s Institute of Molecular Biology, illustrated with linoleum prints by the author. Her husband, George Streisinger, was a founding member of the Institute.
Streisinger has an MA in Comparative Literature from Cornell University. She took a ceramics class while studying for her Ph.D and fell in love with clay. She has been a potter for over 40 years, selling and giving away her pieces so that they could be used. She writes that she loves making pitchers because “the more functional they are, the more beautiful. Even the sound of water pouring out of the spout is beautiful.”
Streisinger devotes much of her time and energy to helping support the community’s art and artists. She has had numerous exhibits in Eugene and throughout the state, and has served on several art administration boards. In 1970 she founded the Eugene Saturday Market and was a Board member for seven years. She now presents “Visible City,” a bi-weekly radio program of art-show reviews, with co-host Terry Way on KLCC.
C.A. Gilbert was born and raised in the heartland of California. He moved to Oregon in 1989 and feels that this is his true home. This sense of gratitude is evident in much of his work, as is his strong sense of family, his generous attitude of responsibility toward others, and his sometimes humorous and always humble sense of self.
Gilbert is the author of two chapbooks, Portage and Lakes. He was active in the Lane Literary Guild when he lived in Eugene, and is a former coordinator of the Guild’s Windfall Reading Series. During his time at the Guild he also instituted a tradition of local poets making an annual visit to Dinah Galloway’s “Introduction to Poetry” class at Crow High School. He still participates in the visits, though he no longer organizes them. Students continue to be struck by his honest and memorable poems.
If you are one of the many lucky ones to have fond memories of the fresh-baked bread Gilbert used to bring to Windfall readings when he was hosting them, you may be interested to learn that Gilbert has hinted he may bring some again when he returns to the series to read.
Gilbert now lives in Florence and works as Senior Financial Advisor with a national firm, helping his clients achieve retirement goals and financial well-being, whether or not that includes poetry.
Close Observations through a Wider Lens
John Keeble and Dianne Stepp to Read
On March 18, John Keeble and Dianne Stepp will read for the Windfall Reading Series. Both writers excel at looking closely at their surroundings, and then placing their observations of local and personal events into the wider lens of the big picture.
The free reading is from 7-9 pm in the Bascom-Tykeson Room of the downtown library.
John Keeble’s story collection, Nocturnal America, won the Prairie Schooner Prize in 2006. His newest book, Guide to Insurrection, is under submission. Along with his earlier books, Yellowfish and Broken Ground, Guide to Insurrection forms a fictional cycle set in the Northwest. Broken Ground was recently cited as one of the hundred books in Literary Oregon, a project of the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission.
A book of nonfiction, Out Of The Channel: The Exxon Valdez Oil Spill In Prince William Sound, was published in 1991 and reissued in a revised and expanded edition in 1999. It covers the twists and turns of big money, big litigation, and “petroleum speak” that followed one of the most devastating man-made environmental disasters.
In addition to the oil spill and related issues pertaining to petroleum, Keeble has researched and written about white supremacist organizations of the South and the Interior Northwest. Currently, he is researching the Civil War-era New Mexico and California Territories for a novel-in-progress.
His short stories, interviews, and essays on political and ecological topics have appeared in Outside, American Short Fiction, Village Voice, Story, Left Bank, Volt, Zyzzyva, Rolling Stock, and Prairie Schooner. His work has been anthologized in Dreamers and Desperadoes; Listening To The Land; Arctic Refuge, Home Ground, and in Best American Short Stories.
Keeble has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Washington State Governor’s Award. He founded the Master of Fine Arts Program at Eastern Washington University and is now an emeritus professor.
Born in Winnipeg, and raised in Saskatchewan and California, Keeble has spent the past 30 years in rural Eastern Washington where he and his wife, Claire, raise hay, free-range chickens, and grass-fed Main Anjou cattle. They have three grown sons.
Dianne Stepp’s poems have been published in a variety of journals and anthologies including Calyx, Willow Springs, Comstock Review, Clackamas Literary Review, Regrets Only and Portland Lights. She is a Warren Wilson MFA program graduate, the recipient of an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship, and of a writer’s residency at Caldera. Her chapbook, Half-Moon of Clay, was published in 2006, and her manuscript, Pick and Lock, is now seeking a publisher.
Paulann Petersen says of Half-Moon of Clay: "These poems are constellations drawn from the quotidian world–constellations of melon, rook, embroidery, freeway, burr, wart, and fig. Their lines glitter with close observation; they shine with the ache of lament, the music of discovery, the generosity of wide embrace."
The theme of loss takes many forms in the poems: a scene of war embroidered on a Hmong tapestry, fish being clubbed to death, the end of a relationship between husband and wife. But out of loss comes hope, often expressed through Stepp’s marvelous images from nature. In "When She Leaves" the speaker "carries off five books and the clothes on her back…" She leaves behind a photograph of her husband who "looks like a nestling, a baby owl…" But in the last stanza she sees ahead of her "roses in a blue vase / and in the garden / pushing through spring soil / sweet mallow and cornlilies."
Stepp is a couples counselor in Portland, where she lives with her husband, Mike. She is a mother, step-mother, grandmother, a gardener, a knitter and, having recently purchased a spinning wheel, she is learning to spin her own yarn.
Sensing the World
Charles Goodrich and Kelly Terwilliger to Read
April is National Poetry Month, and the Windfall Reading Series is bringing two poets who are adept at using the metaphors they find on and in the earth to take us to the stars, underground, the depths of the sea, and beyond.
The free reading is from 7-9 pm April 15 in the Bascom-Tykeson Room of the downtown library.
Charles Goodrich is the author of a volume of poems, Insects of South Corvallis, of The Practice of Home, which is a collection of essays about nature, parenting, and building his own home, and of a new chapbook of prose poems, Heavy Mulching. He has also co-edited In the Blast Zone: Catastrophe and Renewal on Mount St. Helens, to be published this spring.
In poetry and prose rich in details, Goodrich links nature and human nature, the garden and the soul: “Bum knees, trick back / can’t spade beds like I used to./ Garden and spine both shrinking / soul and soil inexorably converge." Soul and soil do indeed converge in poems where at summer’s end the poet places gathered seeds around his desk to help him "germ through / winter’s dark." Coast poet Ginger Andrews says of Insects of South Corvallis: "Spiders, sow bugs, aphids, house flies, cabbage moths, stinging nettles–Goodrich’s concern for all of nature, including us, is extraordinary, and absolutely genuine." Anyone who has heard Goodrich read will remember the twinkle in his eye, his irresistible humor, and his deft way of delivering poignancy.
Goodrich’s poems and essays have appeared in publications such as Orion, Open Spaces, Northwest Review, The Sun and many others. Garrison Keillor has read a number of Goodrich’s poems on "The Writer’s Almanac."
After working 25 years as a professional gardener, he is presently program director for the Spring Creek Project for Ideas, Nature and the Written Word at Oregon State University.
Kelly Terwilliger grew up in a small town on the southern Oregon coast, and many of her poems seem to arise from or gravitate toward shorelines, those changeable edges between worlds. Kelly attended Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania, and received an MA in English Literature from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, before eventually wending her way back to the Pacific Northwest.
Kelly’s poems have appeared in a variety of journals such as The Atlanta Review, Hunger Mountain, Poet Lore and the Potomac Review. Her first chapbook, A Glimpse of Oranges, will soon be out from Finishing Line Press. The book offers poems that “invite us to see newly: the redemptive promise of oranges gleaming through a chilly veil of snow, the rippling descent of swifts, the vanishing of what we hold dear into that forest of shadows.” Terwilliger opens one window after another onto “a vibrant world of spirit and matter” in which things may disappear too soon or be hardly seen at all, yet leave our sense of the world larger with their small traces.
Kelly works as a storyteller in local elementary schools. Her written stories have appeared in Spider Magazine, and she has published a picture book with Karben Publishing. Kelly’s creative life also includes papier mache sculpture (a piece of hers was included in the 2001 Mayor’s Art Show), costume design (she is the co-director and producer of two plays performed by The Lord Chamberpot’s Men), millinery (she often creates unusual hats to accompany stories she tells), and music (she has played for many years in the Eugene Recorder Ensemble).
Presently working on a collection of stories for children and another compilation of poems, Kelly lives in Eugene with her husband, Leo, her two sons, Jacob and Eli, and their flock of chickens.
Nance Van Winckle and Lisa Rosen will read
On Tuesday, May 20, Nance Van Winckel and Lisa Rosen will share their work. Both writers are gifted at finding unexpected beauty in the objects and actions of ordinary life.
The free reading starts at 7 pm in the Bascom-Tykeson Room of the downtown library. Refreshments will be served, and books will be available for purchase and signing. Windfall readings are co-sponsored by EPL, Lane Literary Guild, and the Cultural Services Division of Lane Arts Council. This is the last reading until September, so don’t miss this event.
Nance Van Winckel’s fifth collection of poems, No Starling, was recently released by the University of Washington Press. In this book, Van Winckel continues her work of mining both familiar and unfamiliar territory, unearthing sparkling insights that are often told with a twist. Even a brief perusal of the poem titles in No Starling gives the reader a sense of the poet’s innate curiosity and wisdom, her edgy humor and her humility: “We Called Goodbye, But She Was Already Gone,” “The Rattled Hymn of the Republic,” “I Talk to the Bread, I Chat with the Dough,” “I Am My Own Assistant.”
The opening poem “Slate,” places us in one of Van Winckel’s typically provocative situations: the speaker is carting off a corpse named “Nance,” heading toward a nearby quarry to dump it off. The wry and energetic recounting of details and events gives us Van Winckel at her dazzling, energetic best.
Van Winckel is the recipient of two NEA Poetry Fellowships and awards from the Poetry Society of America, Poetry, and Prairie Schooner. New poems appear in The Kenyon Review, The Pushcart Prize Anthology, The Southern Review, Poetry Northwest, Crazyhorse, Field, and Gettysburg Review. She is also the author of three collections of short fiction (Limited Lifetime Warranty, Quake and Curtain Creek Farm) and has received the 2005 Christopher Isherwood Fiction Fellowship and the Patterson Fiction Award.
Van Winckel teaches in the MFA Programs at Eastern Washington University and Vermont College. In spring 2009 she will be the Stadler Poet in Residence at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. She lives in Spokane with her husband, visual artist Rik Nelson.
Lisa Rosen was born in Baltimore, Maryland and as a teenager moved with her family to Tucson, Arizona. Rosen earned an MA in English from Colorado State University. She has taught in the Academic Leaning Skills and English as a Second Language departments at Lane Community College. Her chapbook, Bright Omens, was published in February, 2008 by Traprock Books. The poems in Bright Omens focus on family and loss and on the hope—the “bright omens”—that arise out of darkness. Through the process of writing Rosen finds a way out of this darkness, discovering everywhere and in everything possibilities of transformation. With stunning clarity and poignancy, Rosen writes about the illness and death of two sisters, about her own illness, about love and pain, struggle and hope, and the sense of mystery that pervades the human condition.
Rosen sees signs everywhere, most often in the world of nature. Her language is rich in imagery that weaves thematically through the poems: spiders spreading “their white webs like quilted air,” birds sending up a sound “like dozens of scissors opening and closing,” flowers floating “like pale stars in the grass.” With courage and faith the poet explores “the dark material of stones / and whatever it is we’ll follow / when we float / bodiless from this place.”
Lisa Rosen’s poems have appeared in Poetry East, Kaleidoscope, Gertrude, and Hubbub, among others. Several of her poems were recently anthologized in the Best of the Bellevue Literary Review. She also won the 2007 Jane’s Stories Press Poetry Prize.
She lives in Eugene with her husband, Don, and their beloved dog, the senior member of the household.
Still Celebrating, Still Playing with Language
Toni Van Deusen and Gary Lark will read
On September 16 the Eugene Celebration will be over, but there will still be cause to celebrate. Windfall opens the 2008-09 reading series with two poets who who revel in the musicality of language and the resonances of silence. The free reading starts at 7:00 p.m. in the Bascom-Tykeson room of the downtown library. Refreshments will be served at intermission, and books will be available for purchase and signing.
Toni Van Deusen’s poems can be found in MARGIE, Alehouse, West Wind Review, The MacGuffin, Tiger’s Eye, Windfall, and others. She lives in Eugene, Oregon and is a member of the Lane Literary Guild’s Red Sofa Poets, whose CD, Poets Demanding Ink, was released in 2006. She has won a number of prizes in Oregon State Poetry Association contests, including several firsts, and her work has been named a finalist for national poetry prizes. She enjoys attending and sometimes leading writing workshops.
Van Deusen’s poetry wears many different guises—from traditional to experimental. Her #1 piece of advice for poets (and indeed, human beings in general) is “read poetry!”. Her current favorites are Tony Hoagland and Dean Young.
Her first (and only) full-length book of poetry is Moonmusic, which she co-authored with long time friend and poet Connie Beitler. She has self-published a number of chapbooks, including the most recent, All Things in Their Shining Forth, poems of her travels in the U.S. and in Europe. In 2006 she helped create the Lane Literary Guild’s anthology, Dona Nobis Pacem. A full-length manuscript, her gleaming, her ceaseless swim, is out in the world looking for a job.
Poet and playwright Gary Lark grew up in the Umpqua River Valley in Southern Oregon. Finishing Line Press published his most recent chapbook, Men at the Gates, in 2007. Two poems in the collection, “Getting By” and “Men at the Gates,” were read by Garrison Keillor on his “Writer’s Almanac” radio show.
Clemens Starck says of Men at the Gates: “Blunt, plain-spoken, no-frills anecdotal accounts of a back-country Oregon boyhood and a working life lived as a laborer, janitor, hospital orderly and rural librarian–these are poems from and to the heart, fierce and unflinching.” The poems contain a quiet intensity that draws the reader into a world of hayfields, cottonwoods, loggers, mill workers and prison inmates.
Lark’s first chapbook, Tasting the River in the Salmon’s Flesh, was published by Traprock Books in 2005. His play, And One Flew South, won first place in the 2002 Pacific Northwest Writers Association Contest. Lark’s poems have appeared in North American Review, Hubbub, Orion, Blue Unicorn, and others. He lives with his wife on the Oregon coast, where he hosts a visiting writer’s series at the Coos Bay Public Library.
The Art of Seeing with the Soul
Tom Crawford and Candice Favilla will read
The October 21 Windfall features Tom Crawford and Candice Favilla — two poets who have well-earned reputations as both soulful and skillful writers. The event starts at 7:00 p.m. in the library’s Bascom-Tykeson room. Refreshments are available at intermission, and the authors will have their books for sale at intermission and after the reading.
Tom Crawford is the author of five collections of poems, including If It Weren’t for Trees, Lauds (winner of the Oregon Book Award), China Dancing, and The Temple on Monday (winner of the Foreword Book of the Year Award). Of his fifth collection, wu wei, (2006, Milkweed Editions), Edward Field says: “Tom Crawford celebrates the world in these poems as if he had invented it himself. Everything is his teacher — from the waters of the Pacific to his black dog, Walt…. Tom Crawford is a master.”
Crawford taught for two years in the People’s Republic of China and for five years in Korea. Such experiences inform many of his poems, as does a deceptively low-key, working-class pragmatism laced with a humorous acceptance of life’s surprises and disappointments. Crawford is a master of the prose poem, and his free-verse poems combine arresting images and cannily colloquial rhythms, such as in these lines from “Laundry”: “Up close the pile of white laundry / turns into a hundred geese / riding on top of the dirty bus ahead of us.”
Crawford has received the Pushcart Prize and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships. He has lectured and taught at colleges and universities throughout the western United States and now lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Candice Favilla was born in Chico, California. She studied at California State University in Chico and then earned a Ph.D. in creative writing from the University of Denver.
Favilla writes discursive, lyrical, and prose poems as well as short stories and flash fiction. Her work expresses both outrage and intellect, bristling with passion and concern for the working poor, the old, and a world whose resources are pillaged to satisfy insatiable appetites. The University of Georgia published her book of poems, Cups, in 1992. Her fiction won the Red Hen Press Award and was published in the Los Angeles Review in 2004. That same year, she won a fiction fellowship from Literary Arts in Oregon.
Favilla’s second book of poems, Things That Ease Despair, won a poetry prize from WordTech Press in 2005. The Barnes & Noble website says: “This challenging collection never ceases its demands on the reader’s collaboration in the poems, nor ceases rewarding that attention.”
Favilla’s work has appeared in The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Denver Quarterly, and The West Wind Review. Favilla lives in Bandon-by-the-Bay, Oregon, where she teaches literature and writing at Southwestern Oregon Community College.
The Rush and Swerve of Life:
John Witte and Stephanie Lenox
Life happens fast. Poetry can help us slow down enough to notice what we might otherwise miss. It can also take a long look at things that fascinate us, but that remain on the periphery. Take a break from the routine and come listen to these poets ponder life’s deep and delightful mysteries.
John Witte’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, American Poetry Review and elsewhere. He has received two fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and has three books of poems: Loving the Days, The Hurtling and Second Nature. Witte is also the editor of The Selected Poems of Hazel Hall.
Poetry Daily says of Witte’s poetry that it “sweeps the reader into its crosscurrents, its passionate engagements, and its ambivalence.” The poems, intimate and energetic, carry the reader forward in a rush of movement, sound and images. In one poem Witte describes his lines as “…these quick whiplash triplets the first / line breathless / then a rustle of wings spilling out / a long tumbling exhalation…” As in The Hurtling, many of the poems deal with loss and mortality. Yet there is in these new poems a gladness, even joy. When plum blossoms are falling “you have to begin / singing…” even while “the perishable stars sting our face and hands.”
The poems in Second Nature cover a wide range of experiences and eras, from glimpses back into the poet’s childhood to the birth of his first daughter, or from the Latin poet Ovid to Janis Joplin. These are poems that enter the heart and spirit, poems about immediate family and the larger human family, about memory and history, love and loss, with bits of gladness and hope in-between the lines.
Witte lives with his family in Eugene and works at the University of Oregon, teaching contemporary literature and editing the Northwest Review.
Stephanie Lenox’s chapbook, The Heart that Lies Outside the Body, won the 2007 Slapering Hol Press Chapbook competition. Written mostly in the voices of record holders from the Guinness Book of World Records, the poems are odes to human superlatives, to ludicrous acts, and to our common strangeness. Denise Duhamel writes that the chapbook is “euphoric, generous, gracefully obsessive. There is intense personal depth in all of these poems, which are intimate, skillful, shimmering with complexity and awe.” Lenox handles the obvious quirkiness of her subjects with a matter-of-fact approach, so that what we take away from the poems most often is an appreciation for our own strangeness, not for the oddness of others.
Lenox’s poems have appeared in Best New Poets 2006, AGNI, Crab Orchard Review, and Seattle Review, among others. In 2007 she received a grant from the Arizona Commission on the Arts, and her work has been nominated four times in five years for a Pushcart Prize.
Currently, she is working on a manuscript of poems inspired by office work. Early glimpses from this book prove that there is more excitement to be found in office work than many would assume.
Lenox works as the Promotions Director for A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village, a children’s museum in Salem. She is also the co-editor of Blood Orange Review, an online journal of literature and art.
Windfall is sponsored by Eugene Public Library, Lane Literary Guild, the Friends of the Library, the Eugene Public Library Foundation, and the Cultural Services Division of Lane Arts Council.