Windfall Reading Series: 2004

Windfall Archive

January 2004

Biespiel and Clement Warm Up January Windfall

Come to the Eugene library Tuesday, January 20 and hear a poet and a fiction writer spin their word-magic out of memory, experience, and imagination. The free reading starts at 7:00 pm in the Bascom-Tykeson Room.

David BiespielDavid Biespiel‘s newest book of poems, Wild Civility, was chosen by Linda Bierds in 2003 for the Pacific Northwest Poetry Series. His previous poetry collections are Shattering Air and Pilgrims & Beggars.

Born in 1964 in Tulsa, Biespiel grew up in Houston. He has degrees from Boston University and the University of Maryland. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Poetry, and Parnassus. His list of awards includes the Wallace Stegner Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship.

The University of Washington Press describes Biespiel’s Wild Civility like this: "Biespiel has crafted a hip, melodic, elastic language that travels the registers of expression: lush and coarse, gaudy and austere, pliant and rigidly tough. The civility of the poems is the form; the wildness is the bristling energy of the language."

Biespiel teaches at Oregon State University in Corvallis and is the director and writer-in-residence of The Attic Writers’ Workshop in Portland. He writes a column on poetry that appears in The Oregonian on the first Sunday of each month. Biespiel lives with his wife and son in the Hawthorne district of Portland.

Alison ClementAlison Clement‘s first novel, Pretty Is As Pretty Does, tells the lusty and ultimately touching story of an independent woman trapped in the body of a small-town beauty queen. Clement takes on bigotry, infidelity, and the struggle for integrity through the darkly funny tale of the novel’s main character, Lucy Fooshee. Says Clement, "Lucy’s nature is completely at odds with the place she’s from. What happens to someone who is born into the wrong family or the wrong town? What happens to a character who finds herself in a place that suppresses her imagination and passion?" According to Booklist, this author’s answer is "wildly entertaining [and] ignites the pages."

Clement describes Pretty Is As Pretty Does as being a story "about character and place. It’s about families and about what people want or think they want. It’s about bigotry and small towns, and it’s about finding out what matters."

A Southern-raised former waitress and bartender, Clement is now a Western Oregon elementary-school librarian whose work has appeared in The Sun, High Country News, and The Alaska Quarterly Review. Clement will be reading from her novel-in-progress, which is about waitressing. Clement’s website includes a section called "Waitress with an Axe to Grind" that contains this Zen-like tidbit: "Each table is a clean slate and a chance for things to go right. You can’t think of what you’ve done wrong, what you might do wrong, what you might forget, all the mistakes you’ve made or could make. You’ve got to have a clear mind."

February 2004

February Readers Sandor and Tyau Share Themes of, History and Family

On February 17, Marjorie Sandor and Kathleen Tyau bring their latest work to the Windfall audience. The reading is free and starts at 7 pm in the library’s Bascom-Tykeson room.

Marjorie SandorCorvallis writer Marjorie Sandor‘s newest book is Portrait of My Mother, Who Posed Nude in Wartime. The book is a collection of connected stories that tie together like a novel. The New York Times Book Review says, "Sandor has an honest imagination and shares its discoveries with skill and care." Her writing has also been described as "sensuous" and "tangy and luscious as just-plucked fruit." Portrait of My Mother explores the notions of family, secrecy, and mystery.

Sandor is the author of two other books, The Night Gardener (essays) and A Night of Music (stories). Her stories and essays have appeared in The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, Five Points, and The New York Times Magazine, as well as several anthologies, including The Best American Short Stories 1985 and 1988, The Pushcart Prize XIII, The Best of Beacon 1999 and In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal. Her many awards include a 1998 Rona Jaffe Foundation Award for Fiction and the 2000 Oregon Book Award for literary nonfiction.

Sandor teaches creative writing and literature at Oregon State University and serves on the Board of Directors of The Associated Writing Programs.

Kathleen TyauKathleen Tyau is the author of two novels set in Hawaii, A Little Too Much Is Enough (1995) and Makai (1999). Winner of the Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Association Award and the Barnes and Noble Best New Writers Award, Tyau is the recipient of fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Oregon Arts Commission, Literary Arts, Inc., and Fishtrap. Her stories and essays have been published in Bamboo Ridge, Story, ZYZZYVA, Glimmer Train, Boulevard, American Short Fiction, and Left Bank.

Tyau grew up in Waikiki and Pearl City, where her writing career began at the age of 13 with the publication of an essay in the Honolulu Star Bulletin. In 1992, Tyau’s first published story, "How to Cook Rice," became the catalyst for her book A Little Too Much Is Enough, about growing up in a Chinese-Hawaiian family. Sherman Alexie described this book as "a feast of a novel, each story a separate course, each fragment an appetizer for the next."

Tyau lives on a 52-acre farm in northwest Oregon, where she and her husband grow trees, play bluegrass music, and stargaze. She is at work on another novel, currently titled Mele.

March 2004

Craig Lesley and Casey Kwang Read in March

On March 16, Windfall presents an evening with noted Northwest novelist Craig Lesley and an up-and-coming poet from Ashland, Casey Kwang. The free reading starts at 7 pm in the Bascom-Tykeson room of the Eugene Public Library. Refreshments are served and books sold during intermission and after the reading.

Craig LesleyCraig Lesley first hurtled onto the literary scene 20 years ago with his novel, Winterkill. Set in central Oregon, it tells the story of Danny Kachiah, a contemporary Native American rodeo rider, and his struggles to regain both his teenage son and a sense of his Nez Perce heritage. Raymond Carver wrote, "What strikes me first about Craig Lesley’s book is the astonishing compassion he extends to the characters." In his subsequent novels – River Song, The Sky Fisherman, and Storm Riders – Lesley has maintained and deepened the noteworthy compassion that marked his debut.

Both Storm Riders and The Sky Fisherman were nominated for the Pulitzer Prize. Lesley’s writing has received three Pacific Northwest Bookseller’s Association Awards, The Western Writers of America Best Novel of the Year, and the Medicine Pipe Bearer’s Award.

Lesley has been a recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, a Bread Loaf Fellowship in the Novel, as well as two National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowships to study Native American literature. In 1997, he toured France with a group of authors to promote their works on the American West and Native American cultures.

Lesley’s novels explore the tenuous coexistence between whites and Native Americans in the northwest United States. They also deal with the tensions of small town life, the dynamics of male bonding, and the myriad ways that people both fail and succeed while trying to help one another. What Reynolds Price said of Winterkill is true for all of Lesley’s novels: they present "a beautiful picture of family love and loyalty in a society from which we’ve had few such pictures."

Lesley is also the editor of Talking Leaves: Contemporary Native American Short Stories and Dreamers and Desperadoes: Contemporary Fiction of the American West. His short stories have appeared in Massachusetts Review, Northwest Review, Seattle Review, Left Bank, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and others. He earned a master’s degree in English from the University of Kansas and a master of fine arts in creative writing from University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Lesley, who lives in Portland with his wife and daughters, has served as the Hallie Ford Chair of creative writing at Willamette University and is currently the Visiting Writer at Whitman College.

Casey KwangBorn in Seoul, South Korea in 1974, Casey Kwang moved with his brothers to the U.S. when he was adopted at age four. Raised in southern Oregon, he received his Bachelor of Arts in English from Southern Oregon University.

About Kwang’s first book, On Blue Felix Paper, Anne Waldman writes, "In the tradition of Charles Bukowski, Casey Kwang gives a tough verse account of life on the street. Drug trips, automobiles, pool games, tenuous friendships and hard drinking provide an alternative reality, a sort of urban American purgatory, peopled by an alienated underclass of the young." On Blue Felix Paper was nominated for an Oregon Book Award in 1999.

In addition to street life, Kwang often writes about love in its various permutations, including his being startled by the surge of love he felt for his mother when, at age 20, he returned to Korea to visit her after being separated for many years. In poems that are bold, honest, and direct, Kwang reconnects his readers with surprise and truth so that they see the world, themselves, and their shortcomings through new eyes.

His second book, Copia (Pinball Publishing), was a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards in 2003. Lawson Fusao Inada describes Copia as "indeed a copious volume brimming with the wonders of life." In the introduction to the book, Walt Curtis claims "Kwang projects neoRomanticism in a bleak militarist wasteland."

Kwang has worked at gas stations, sushi counters, and desks. He studied with Dorianne Laux at the University of Oregon and with Lawson Inada at Southern Oregon University. Currently he lives in Ashland and teaches writing at Rogue Community College.

April 2004

Maurya Simon Reading Marks National Poetry Month

Each April, Windfall celebrates National Poetry Month by doing something special. Recent years have brought Wanda Coleman and Marvin Bell to read at the library, and last year we featured five local poets whose work is heard too seldom on their home turf. This year, we’re delighted to bring Maurya Simon to town.

Maurya SimonMaurya Simon is an award-winning poet from California with several collections of poems to her credit. Sutton Hoo Press published her fifth volume, A Brief History of Punctuation, and Blackbird Press put out her sixth volume, Weavers. Red Hen Press is releasing her newest book of poems, Ghost Orchid, in March 2004. Earlier volumes include The Enchanted Room (Copper Canyon Press, 1986), Days of Awe (Copper Canyon Press, 1989), Speaking in Tongues (Gibbs Smith Publishers, 1990), and The Golden Labyrinth (University of Missouri Press, 1995).

Simon is chair and professor of Creative Writing at the University of California, Riverside and lives in the Angeles National Forest of the San Gabriel Mountains, in southern California.

She is the recipient of a 2002 Visiting Artists Fellowship from the American Academy in Rome, a 1999-2000 NEA fellowship in poetry, a University Award from the Academy of American Poets, the Celia B. Wagner and Lucille Medwick Memorial Awards form the Poetry Society of America, and a Fullbright-Indo-American Fellowship. She has also been a Fellow at Hawthornden Castle in Edinburgh, Scotland, as well as a Fellow at the Baltic Centre for Writers and Translators in Visby, Sweden.

Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry, TriQuarterly, The Kenyon Review, The Gettysburg Review, The Southern Review, The Georgia Review, Grand Street, Agni, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Calyx, New England Review, and in more than 30 anthologies.

The Copper Canyon Press’s website describes Simon’s debut collection, The Enchanted Room, as a book that reveals "a mind alert not only to the present but to the possible, to many traditions, and a deeply felt sense of history." Her poems in Days of Awe deal with diverse subjects, including Vermeer’s women, a rabbi’s pants, and nude mice. Each element is explored for its singular presence and made sense and coherence of through her strong, vibrant voice.

Maxine Kumin describes Simon’s latest book, Ghost Orchid, as "lyrical, melancholic, humorous," containing "fresh, ambitious poems that take us literally into untravelled territory." B.H. Fairchild writes that Simon is "a true master of metaphor" whose poetry "performs the ultimate task-the alchemy of body and soul."

Maurya Simon reads for Windfall on April 20 in the Bascom-Tykeson room of the Eugene Library. The reading begins at 7 pm. After the free event, Simon’s books will be available for purchase, snacks will be available, and gabbing encouraged until 9 pm., at which time we all have to leave.

May 2004

Windfall Closes Out the Year with Silano and Husted

Don’t miss the May 18 Windfall Reading, which is the last one until September. Sending us off into the summer are two powerful writers – Martha Silano and Bette Lynch Husted.

Martha Silano is the author of What the Truth Tastes Like, an award-winning collection of poems published by Nightshade Press in 1999. Her second book (as yet unreleased) has been a finalist in the National Poetry Series and Autumn House Press contests.

Silano’s poems are jazzy riffs that twinkle with glints of unexpected humor. She’s capable of writing lines as surprising and diverse as "Because I don’t know how else/ to begin, I begin with love" and "When I saw,/ the week e. coli poisoned all that hamburger,//a Jack-in-the-Box sign announcing Hiring /for Graveyard, where was my camera?" Her syntax is inventive, her vocabulary is large, and her curiosity about how the mind and the world work in concert appears to be rich and unstoppable.

Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various print and online magazines, including Paris Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Bellingham Review, Crossconnect, Poetry Daily, Caffeine Destiny, Verse, River Styx, Artful Dodge, and Hanging Loose, and in many anthologies, including American Poetry: The Next Generation (Carnegie Mellon 2000), Birds in the Hand: Fiction and Poetry About Birds (Farrar, Straus, & Giroux 2004), Red, White, & Blues: Poetic Vistas on the Promise of America (University of Iowa 2004), O Taste and See: Food Poems (Bottom Dog Press 2004), and the just-released Poetry Daily anthology.

Martha Silano lives in Seattle, where she teaches English and creative writing at Edmonds Commmunity College and works as a Writer in the Schools. Her website is www.marthasilano.com.

Soon she’ll be heading to a cabin in a remote part of southwestern Oregon for six months of solitude, because she’s been named winner of the Boyden Wilderness Fellowship award.

Bette Lynch HustedBette Lynch Husted is the author of Above the Clearwater: Living on Stolen Land, which was released in March, 2004 by Oregon State University Press.

Above the Clearwater chronicles the history of Husted’s family, which settled near the Clearwater River in northern Idaho. This land had been home for the Nez Perce Indians until the Dawes Act opened it to settlement in 1895. As a child on the family homestead, Husted felt the presence of the Nez Perce: "But they were always just out of sight, like a smoky shadow behind me that I couldn’t quite turn around quickly enough to catch."

In a series of forceful, poignant essays, Husted traces an intimate history. She describes her Sputnik-era childhood and her struggles as a parent as well as giving a vivid portrait of her life as a woman and teacher in a remote section of the West. Her family’s stories echo those of countless other families in the West: conflicts with guns, struggles over land ownership and water rights, isolation, and separations by race, gender, and class. In addition to these themes, Husted writes frankly and honestly about family secrets, including mental illness and suicide.

With her powerful and poetic voice, Husted illuminates the tangled relationship between the history of a particular place and the families who inhabit that place. As Above the Clearwater explores one family’s search for a home on land taken from its original inhabitants, it quietly asks all readers to examine their own homes in the same light.

Ursula Le Guin says it very well on a blurb that the editors put on the front cover: "Like the river of its name, Bette Husted’s book runs with clarity and passion. Complex, harsh, and tender, never taking the easy way out, this memoir is beautiful in its honesty. I never read anything truer to the Western land and people."

Bette Lynch Husted’s stories, poems, and essays have been published in Northwest Review, Northern Lights, Fourth Genre, and other journals. A poetry chapbook, "After Fire," was published by Pudding House Press in 2002. One of the essays in Above the Clearwater was named a "notable essay" in Best American Essays 2000, and another is included in the University of Oregon Press’s Best Essays Northwest (2003). Husted taught in high schools and at Blue Mountain Community College and now lives in Pendleton, Oregon.

The free reading begins at 7:00 pm in the Eugene downtown library’s Bascom-Tykeson room. Refreshments are served during intermission and books will be available for purchase.

September 2004

Jeff DeMark

This free performance begins at 7:00 pm in the Eugene downtown library’s Bascom-Tykeson room. Refreshments are served during intermission.

Jeff DeMarkThe library is touting Windfall’s opening performance for the 2004-05 season as "something completely different." It’s true that the spoken-word performances of Jeff DeMark tend to be more loud and theatrical than the usual literary reading, and he’s been known to use props and music and he definitely comes out from behind the podium-as a matter of fact, the podium will have to be stashed in a corner. But previous Windfall readers have been theatrical in their ways, and funny and poignant, to be sure.

Really the most distinguishing thing about Jeff DeMark’s one-man shows is the surprising literary quality they sustain. Like any good narrative, the story rises and falls-and brings the audience along in a totally engaging way. And even if we’re the ones who told the library it would be a "completely different" kind of experience, we want to take this opportunity to assure our Writer’s Access readers that this is something they’ll want to witness for themselves.

Jeff DeMark has performed three times at the Nye Beach Writers’ On the Edge Series in Newport, Oregon. It costs $7 to get in the door to those shows, and each of them drew a standing-room-only crowd. Nye Beach host Carla Perry describes DeMark as "a top-notch stand-up comedian with a penchant for exploring the human psyche and the writing talent required to bring the piece to a crescendo."

For the September 21 Windfall, DeMark will be presenting "Writing My Way Out of Adolescence." The show debuted at the Mad River Festival in Blue Lake, California and has drawn large audiences in Humboldt County, San Francisco, Madison, Wisconsin, and New York City’s Knitting Factory. "Adolescence" is about "growing up, going crazy, and living to tell about it," as DeMark puts it. His broadly comic and affecting monologue culminates in wild tales describing the craziness of anti-war activism and psychedelic mishaps.

Each of the show’s five parts begins with a father-son battle and progresses to odysseys that originate in mid-Western cornfields and end up in police stations. By the end, "Adolescence" turns out to be less about DeMark’s experiences in the nudist camp or the Catholic schools than about the reconciliation between an adult son and his aging father and the importance of family ties.

Jeff DeMark began performing back in Madison, reciting original poems and stories while backed by musical groups such as The Violent Femmes. He has written three other solo monologues: "Went to Lunch, Never Returned," "Making Every Mistake Twice," and "Hard as a Diamond, Soft as the Dirt," which was commissioned by the College of the Redwoods in Eureka.

October 2004

Rachel Cline & Candice Favilla

On October 19, Windfall brings Rachel Cline and Candice Favilla to Eugene to share their work. The free reading starts at 7:00 pm in the Bascom-Tykeson room of the downtown library. Refreshments are free and books will be available for purchase.

Rachel ClineNative New Yorker Rachel Cline moved to LA intending to write the great American movie and get paid buckets of cash. Instead, she got fired after penning the scripts for three episodes of the TV series Knots Landing, then went on to write the sanitized, airplane-friendly version of the dialog in Glengarry Glen Ross – substituting memorable phrases such as "It takes brass buns to sell real estate!" for Mamet’s harsher original colloquialisms.

What to Keep, Cline’s first novel, is populated with gifted, likeable misfits who struggle to watch out for each other amid life’s mishaps and mistakes. According to The LA Times Book Review, the book is "a mad tangle of personal histories, full of characters who are as tangibly real as they are completely AWOL." Entertainment Weekly comments, "One of the chief delights of [Cline’s] lovely, understated debut is her smart, self-respecting heroine Denny Roman, who never clamors for attention. And thereby earns it."

Cline’s next novel and a memoir are both slated for publication by Random House next year. For more info about Cline – and to see her quirky collection of postcards and read the true story of her brainy science-writer mom – visit www.rachelcline.com.

Candice Favilla was born in Chico, California and grew up in an almond-farming family. The first in her immediate family to graduate from high school, Favilla 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. She also writes 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 the "have mores." The University of Georgia published her book of poems, Cups, for its Contemporary Poetry Series Competition in 1992. Other publications include The New Republic, The Los Angeles Times Book Review, Denver Quarterly, and The West Wind Review. Favilla lives in Bandon-by-the-Bay, Oregon, and teaches literature and writing at Southwestern Oregon Community College.

She’s working on a manuscript of short stories, and her new book of poems, Things That Ease Despair, was just chosen as the winner of the Custom Words Poetry Prize contest and will be published in May 2005.

November 2004

Paisley Rekdal & David Bradley

On November 16, the Windfall Reading Series brings two writers whose work focuses on the influences of culture and community on identity and race. "I don’t see people as isolated from the culture that surrounds them," says Paisley Rekdal, author of two collections of poetry and the memoir The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee, Observations on Not Fitting In. David Bradley, author of South Street and The Chaneysville Incident, says, "There are fundamental reasons why people do things, and you can’t know those unless you know where people come from."

On October 19, Windfall brings Rachel Cline and Candice Favilla to Eugene to share their work. The free reading starts at 7:00 pm in the Bascom-Tykeson room of the downtown library. Refreshments are free and books will be available for purchase.

Paisley RekdalPaisley Rekdal is the only child of a Chinese-American mother and a father of Norwegian descent. She was born in Seattle, where she first cultivated her reputation as a bad-ass city girl. Her parents were hoping she’d grow up to be respectable but instead she became a writer.

She is the author of a memoir, The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee, and two collections of poetry: A Crash of Rhinos (University of Georgia Press) and Six Girls Without Pants (Eastern Washington University Press). Her poems and essays have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Nerve, Poetry Northwest, Crazyhorse, and The Indiana Review. She is the recipient of The Village Voice’s Writers on the Verge Award, University of Georgia Press’ Contemporary Poetry Series Award, and a Fulbright. She has an MA in Medieval Studies from the University of Toronto, and an MFA from the University of Michigan. She also has a black belt in Tae Kwan Do.

The essays in The Night My Mother Met Bruce Lee could be classified as travel writing, memoir, and social commentary on racial identity. Rekdal recounts travels in Taiwan, Japan, China, Korea, and Natchez, Mississippi. In each place, she finds a bit of the puzzle of what it means to be American. Her stories dip into childhood memories and family history. In writing that is lyrical, witty, and sad, Rekdal tackles ethnicity and identity issues head-on and comes up with some surprising assertions.

David BradleyDavid Bradley earned a BA in Creative Writing at the University of Pennsylvania in 1972 and a MA in United States Studies at the University of London in 1974. A Professor of English at Temple University from 1976 to 1997, Bradley has been a visiting professor at the San Diego State University, the University of California-San Diego, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Colgate University, the College of William & Mary, the City College of the City University of New York and the Michener Center for Writers at the University of Texas, Austin. He is currently the Director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Oregon.

Bradley has read and lectured extensively in the United States and Japan, Korea, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, South Africa and Australia. He is the author of two novels, South Street (1975), and The Chaneysville Incident (1981), which was awarded the 1982 PEN/Faulkner Award and an Academy Award from the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters. The Los Angeles Times reviewer called The Chaneysville Incident "Brutal, spectacular, … and, ultimately, brilliant. Certainly the most important piece of fiction I’ve read so far this year, perhaps the most significant work by a new male black author since James Baldwin dazzled the early ’60s with his fine fury."

Bradley’s non-fiction has appeared in Esquire, Redbook, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times and The New Yorker. A recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, he is currently completing a non-fiction book, The Bondage Hypothesis: Meditations on Race, History and America.