Windfall Reading Series: 2006

Windfall Archive

January 2006

Windfall returns on January 17, with Gina Ochsner and George Estreich reading their work at the library. The free event is in the Bascom-Tykeson room from 7:00 – 9:00 pm.

Gina OchsnerGina Ochsner’s two highly praised story collections, The Necessary Grace to Fall (University of Georgia Press, 2002) and People I Wanted to Be (Houghton Mifflin, 2005), explore the connections between the living and dead. Her fiction travels in myth and mischief and is filled with crossings, partings, and second chances.

Ochsner’s work carries exotic flavors from locations such as the Czech Republic, Siberia, Hungary, Alaska, West Texas, even Oregon. But though her characters are strange, they are also ordinary. Ochsner says, "While humans as a whole may be inscrutable in some ways, really we are quite transparent and far more similar to one another than we may like to acknowledge." Her supple imagination creates bizarrely comic and tragic situations with equal ease. As readers we are reminded of the complexity of the world, and gratified to be in the presence of such wonderful work.

She writes about a claims adjuster obsessed with a dead girl, and the twin daughters of Hungarian-immigrant funeral home directors, and a Siberian couple who take in a talking dog that changes their luck: the wife finds silver dollars in her shoes, the husband smells roses in full bloom even though it’s only March. They win sweepstakes they never entered.

Ochsner has won the Flannery O’Connor Award, the Oregon Book Award, the Raymond Carver Prize, the Chelsea Award, and many others. Her stories have appeared in The New Yorker, The Best American Nonrequired Reading, Kenyon Review, and Prairie Schooner. Ochsner attended George Fox College and received her MFA from the University of Oregon. She lives in western Oregon with her husband and four children.

George EstreichGeorge Estreich’s book of poems, Textbook Illustrations of the Human Body (Cloudbank Books, 2004) won the Gorsline Prize. Michael McFee calls Textbook "the best first book I’ve read in years, full of distinctive and powerful poems."

The title is a metaphor for digging into the layers of human relationships. For Estreich, the most compelling relationship is with his father. One section of poems is devoted to the memory of his father, poems of love, estrangement and loss.

Although the book is elegiac, the poems cover many moods – including poignancy, grief, wit, and humor. "Dear Sir, I need a field guide to my neighbors" begins the poem, "Letters to Roger Tory Peterson," but the poem ends with " Dear Sir, I need a field guide to grief / Help me to recognize its pinpricks in night sky’s velvet." A poem that begins with fishing turns to musing about family and mortality. And in "Astronomy: Three Families," Estreich asks: "What’s this dark matter / holding us together?"

Finally, the poems are about language. The struggles with grief and mortality parallel the struggle to find "the right word" to express such grief in language that reverberates with an intensity that is both moving and thought-provoking.

George Estreich has an MFA from Cornell, where he won the Sage Graduate Fellowship. His poems have appeared in the chapbook Elegy for Dan Rabinowitz, and in Talking River Review, Atlanta Review and Passages North. In 2002 he won an Oregon Literary Fellowship and a residency at Caldera. He is currently working on a book about Down Syndrome and family. He lives in Corvallis with his wife and two daughters.

February 2006

On February 21, Windfall features Adrian Matejka and Stacey Lynn Brown, two poets who write about their roots and their uprootings. The reading is free and begins at 7:00 pm in the downtown library’s Bascom-Tykeson room.

Adrian MatejkaAdrian Matejka‘s first collection of poems, The Devil’s Garden, won the 2002 New York / New England Award from Alice James Books. Black Issues Book Review named The Devil’s Garden one of the best poetry books of 2003, writing that it "sings the half-white-quarter-Delaware-quarter-black blues, using deft musical allusion and metaphor, and juxtaposing history and autobiography to navigate a tri-racial, tri-cultural heritage."

Yusef Komunyakaa writes that "The Devil’s Garden meets at the crossroads of risky possibility – real and magical. With jazz burning in the engine, each curve in Adrian Matejka’s stunning imagination is taken with hard-earned, skillful grace."

Matejka splices his music metaphors with visual allusions that give his writing a painterly, multi-textured feel. In "Tommy Johnson" he writes: "a constellation / of bug prints in a gypsy’s / biography – loose-leaf, crayon / etchings and the sun shining / on my back door some day."

Although he is very much a physical poet, Matejka also evokes the way the body and mind can intersect at uncomfortable angles, as in Conjugating Opposites, which begins: "Body: mismanaged carapace / of was. You’d be better / as a constellation, ignoring light / years of interstellar bric-a-brac."

Matejka’s poems and essays have appeared in journals and anthologies including Callaloo, Crab Orchard Review, Gulf Coast, Indiana Review, and Painted Bride Quarterly. He is currently finishing a collection called Tell ’em Who Your Man Is, about an unsuccessful emcee who turns to poetry for comfort. Matejka and his wife, the poet Stacey Lynn Brown, have just collaborated on a long-term joint venture – a baby girl born in November 2005.

Stacey Lynn BrownStacey Lynn Brown was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia and attended Emory University and Oxford University before moving to Oregon. She received her MFA from the University of Oregon in 1996 and has taught Writing and Literature at Mt Hood, Blinn, and Lane. Poems from her manuscript, Song of The Knock-Kneed Grit, have recently appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Natural Bridge, and Mot Juste Poetry, and are archived in audio format at fishousepoems.org.

Song of The Knock-Kneed Grit describes growing up in and eventually leaving the South. In original language that can hurtle forward as rhythmically and breathlessly as a "busful of believers…teethsucking the air," Brown lays out images of the South: the glory hallelujahs, the "chicken and slaw," the "dirt-floored shacks," and the third grade history book "so convincing in its righteousness / that my friend and I agreed / it was a good thing that we’d won or else/ slaves would never have been freed."

The poems are about memories that are more bitter than sweet. In the most poignant ones, Brown writes about the nanny who raised her, and the terrible sadness at the end of each day when nanny leaves for her own home. There is an irony in the poems, but also deep longing. When Brown leaves the South to settle in Oregon, she hangs the Georgia flag above her bed, remembering something her father had said before she left: "If you can’t sleep / with red clay beneath your feet / at least you can see / the Stars and Bars above."

March 2006

On March 21, Windfall presents Mary Szybist and John Witte, two poets who look at the things of this world in an attempt to gain clarity about what might exist beyond this world.

Mary SzybistMany of Mary Szybist’s poems seem to be spoken out loud by someone who cannot help but observe ordinary events, such as "headlights sliding across the wall," in the midst of unusual questions ("when the gnat-like courtship rattled out, did you feel the courtship end?" in the poem "What If I Could Look At You"). The distractions of the physical world merge with philosophical and religious searchings to create a sense of constant shifting. This is heightened by Szybist’s use of repetition and her tendency to pull a word apart and string it together differently, as if trying to find the solid ground of a single meaning.

Poet Donald Justice writes: "This is poetry of a rare fine delicacy. Its very modesty testifies to a great ambition – to overcome by the quietest of means. And poetry maven Jorie Graham says of Szybist: "Her work’s ambition is the creation of a free human in the midst of the seemingly endless tetherings of desire. Great spiritual courage is sometimes almost inaudible. When one leans in to listen, it almost shocking to hear this gorgeous soul sing."

Mary Szybist grew up in Pennsylvania and holds degrees from the University of Virginia and the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her first book, Granted, published by Alice James Books, won the 2002 Beatrice Hawley Award and was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award. She is the recipient of a Rona Jaffe Foundation Writing Award and the 2004 winner of the Great Lakes Colleges Association’s New Writers Award in Poetry. Szybist is now teaching at Lewis & Clark College in Portland.

John WitteJohn Witte’s poems have appeared in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Kenyon Review, Antaeus, American Poetry Review, and in several anthologies, including The Norton Introduction to Literature. He has received two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, as well as numerous other grants and awards. Witte is the editor of The Collected Poems of Hazel Hall (Oregon State University Press) and the author of two poetry collections, Loving the Days (Wesleyan University Press) and The Hurtling (Orchises Press).

The Hurtling, which came out in 2005, contains poems written in three-line stanzas that use little punctuation and "rush forward, hurtling through space and time in a hushed breathlessness" (Gina Myers, Octopus Magazine). The first poem, "The Soloist," describes a violinist straining to bring forth music, painful as birth, weighted with memory and longing. This typifies the intense awareness of innocence and experience and the themes of longing, cruelty, and mortality that imbue all of Witte’s poems.

Although he poems are dark, there is wonder here as well – light and shadow, life and death. Even in a poem such as "Wake Up" – which describes the poet asleep on the beach while his young daughter builds a sand castle – the speaker is a "troubled giant" who "travels alone" while the castle wall crumbles, the gate collapses, and the "secret tunnel fills with water."

Even if the poems express a sense of helplessness about what is – this helplessness hurtling forward in the rush of language – they also contain poignant beauty and grace. And there are startling surprises, such as the final line of the exquisite poem "As If," a poem Ursula Le Guin says she will "never forget."

Witte teaches contemporary literature and literary editing at the University of Oregon and edits the Northwest Review. He lives with his family in Eugene.

April 2006

Five Local Poets, Three Words: Grant Us Peace

The April 18 Windfall reading brings together five local poets, all of whom have work in Grant Us Peace (Dona Nobis Pacem), a chapbook of poems of peace and hope published by the Lane Literary Guild. The book will be available for free at the 7 pm reading in the Bascom Tykeson Room, thanks in part to a grant from the Lane Arts Council Cultural Services Division.

Nearly 20 Lane County poets have work in the book. The project began when Diane Retallack, Artistic and Executive Director of the Eugene Concert Choir, invited the Lane Literary Guild to collaborate with ECC by engaging local writers in some kind of project related to her group’s performance of Dona Nobis Pacem. Ralph Vaughan Williams, the composer of Dona Nobis Pacem (Grant Us Peace), used three poems by Walt Whitman as the text for his music.

The Guild sent out a call for submissions and received enough entries to fill a number of chapbooks. With the guiding hand of Toni Van Deusen, the submissions were sent to Judith H. Montgomery, author of Passion and Red Jess, who had agreed to serve as the judge of the anonymously submitted entries. The chapbook will also be available for free at the April 22 performance of Dona Nobis Pacem by the Eugene Concert Choir at the Hult Center’s Silva Concert Hall.

We thank all who volunteered and supported this unique and exciting project, and invite everyone to come hear what Deb Casey, Charles Thielman, Michael Hanner, Colette Jonopolous, and Madronna Holden have to say. Short biographies of the readers follow.

Deb CaseyOriginally from a small town in northern Michigan, Deb Casey moved to Eugene 30 years ago. She graduated from the University of Oregon with a Master of Fine Arts in English, enhanced by printmaking work with LaVerne Kraus and Ken Paul. Since 1980 she has helped to provide support-services for non-traditional students at UO. She has received a Summer Research Grant focused on Personal Options: Child Care That Works, a National Endowment for the Arts grant for poetry, and the Bernice Slote Poetry Award from Prairie Schooner.

Casey is a former fiction editor for Northwest Review. Her work has appeared in Calyx, Chicago Review, Epoch, Graham House, Kenyon, Massachusetts Review, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Ploughshares, River Styx, & Zyzzyva, as well as Dare-Devil Research, For A Living, and Reading & Writing for Literature.

Michael HannerMichael Hanner was born in Iowa and raised in Illinois and Florida. He began writing poetry while at the University of Illinois, graduating in 1966 with a degree in architecture. He moved to Oregon from Chicago in 1970. He has worked as an architect on projects in the Pacific Northwest and Canada until retiring recently.

After a 30-year hiatus he returned to writing poetry in the mid-90’s. His principle themes are love, family, loss and remembrance, often with a jigger of surrealism and sometimes even a little architecture thrown in. Hanner has been a member of Poetry Group Two in the Lane Literary Guild for several years. His other interests are travel, gardening, ceramics, tango and photography.

Madronna HoldenMadronna Holden’s poetry evokes the mythic connection between mystery, healing, and the natural world. She is the author of the poetic text for the collaborative community theater piece, The Descent of Inanna, and her poetry has appeared in American Writing, The Christian Science Monitor, The Oregonian, and Fireweed.

A professional storyteller who also regularly contributes essays to Parabola, she has taught at the State University of New York, the University of Oregon, and BirZeit University in Palestine. Holden currently teaches mythology and folklore at Linfield College and courses on culture and nature at Oregon State University.

Colette JonopulosColette Jonopulos moved to Eugene three years ago. She is the author of two non-fiction books, The One Thing Needful and Living Waters for a Parched Land. Her first chapbook, A Burden of Wings, was published in 2004. Her poetry has appeared in Clackamas Literary Review, Rattlesnake Review, PDQ, In the Arms of Words: Poems for Disaster Relief; and is forthcoming in Under Our Skin: North American Poetic Responses to Fernando Pessoa. She is currently co-editor of Tiger’s Eye: A Journal of Poetry.

Charles F. ThielmanCharles F. Thielman is a Eugene poet-member of the Lane Literary Guild. He is honing a book-length manuscript under the working title "writing upright outside the lost and found". Born and raised in Charleston, S.C., he lived in Chicago, Hawaii, Minnesota & California before moving to Oregon.

A member of the peace movement since 1968, Thielman has been a railroad worker, truck driver, college student, city bus driver, corrections-treatment counselor, shore-line chanter and jobs counselor. His poems root in and rise through layers of experience, perceptions and dreams.


May 2006

On May 16, the Windfall Series invites two authors, each of whom uses the flavors and rhythms of her heritage to produce contemporary and unique works. The free reading starts at 7 pm in the Bascom-Tykeson Room of the Eugene Library, downtown branch. Refreshments are served at intermission, and books will be available for purchase and signing.

Lynn Lyman TrombettaLynn Lyman Trombetta has two grown daughters and lives with her husband on the outskirts of Santa Rosa above Jack London’s Valley of the Moon. A third-generation Sonoma County native, she finds inspiration for her work in the rolling hills of the Sonoma County landscape.

Trombetta credits her Irish Catholic upbringing for her love of narrative, rhythm, and language. Old family stories told and retold by her father, Bible stories read aloud by her mother, and the incantations of the Latin Mass on Sundays and Holy Days influenced her love of the word.

Trombetta grew up in "small town" Santa Rosa in the 1950’s and ’60’s and graduated from Sonoma State University. For several years she worked as a teacher’s aide and substitute teacher, but found her true vocation in a writing workshop in 1990. Her first poem was published in 1991. Her work has appeared in The Sun, CALYX, Runes, and Wild Duck Review, among others. Since 1998 Trombetta has led poetry-writing workshops at Angela Center in Santa Rosa.

In 2002 Sixteen Rivers Press of San Francisco, a regional poetry publishing collective, chose Trombetta’s manuscript for publication and invited her to join their press collective. Falling World was published in April, 2004, and is Lynn Trombetta’s first full collection of poems.

Trombetta has studied with contemporary American poets’ David St. John, Jane Hirshfield, Dorianne Laux, Sharon Olds, and locally, with Terry Ehret, Elizabeth Herron and Richard Speakes. Her honors include the D.L. Emblen Award from Santa Rosa Junior College, an award from Americas Review, and three Pushcart Prize nominations. In 2003 and 2005 she was a finalist for Sonoma County Poet Laureate.

Marisela RizikMarisela Rizik graduated from the University of Oregon with a BA in Telecommunication and Film and another in Spanish. Originally from the Domican Republic, she has lived in Eugene since 1982, and has a son who will soon graduate from the University of Oregon.

Rizik has been self-employed for most of her life. She teaches Spanish at Lane County and in the Eugene-Springfield community. She also teaches Argentine tango and is involved with the film and video community, working on projects such as voice-over narration and scriptwriting for training and educational videos. In April, she will make a presentation for Mid Oregon-Production Arts Network (MOPAN), our local film and video association.

Rizik reports that she is very happy with all that she does for a living, because all of her work allows her to use her imagination.

Her novel, Of Forgotten Times, was first published in Spanish in Santa Dominga. It was translated into English by Isabel Z. Brown and published by Curbstone Press. Set in an unnamed Caribbean island, the novel portrays the dramatic lives of generations of women from two different families. One mother and daughter are seeking to escape the poverty of their urban life; the other women live in a village so remote that modern times have not yet diminished its voodoo-like rituals. These two families have in common only the dictator, whose ruthlessness and power affects nearly all the characters in the book. Of Forgotten Times has been used as a literature text in Latin American studies at the University of Michigan and the University of Alabama and has been well-received by critics.

September 2006

Words to Warm an Autumn Evening

Laton Carter and Penelope Scambly Schott on September 19; Judith Montgomery and Michael Strelow on October 24.

The nights are getting chillier, which means it’s nearly time for Windfall to get readers and writers back in the one and only Bascom-Tykeson Room. The September 19 authors are two good reasons to go indoors.

Laton CarterLaton Carter is a native of Eugene whose work has appeared in Plougshares, Chicago Review, Notre Dame Review, and Alaska Quarterly. His first book, Leaving, (University of Chicago Press) won the 2005 Oregon Book Award.

In his judge’s citation, Mark Doty stated: "Carefully controlled, elegantly shaped, these refreshing poems are oddly moving in their minimalist gestures. They’re the work of an idiosyncratic and lively mind, and this first book — already an achievement — hums with promise."

From Orion’s belt to someone practicing the clarinet, from joblessness to the prodigious migration of the bobolink, Carter’s poems form surprising connections that reveal the mystery of the ordinary. The abstract nouns he often uses for titles ("Decision," "Momentum," "Interval," "Return,") contain both the comfort of familiar things and the anxiety of facing them.

Carter sometimes separates time into single frames, pausing a passing thought or gesture long enough for it to be pondered. Even the act of being aware becomes a subject of internal debate: "Self-consciousness, alone, protracted, / is, eventually, a form of vanity. I want seeing into things / not to dislocate me." Carter’s poems show us what we thought we knew in a different slant. This may be a kind of dislocation, but it’s also inspiration.

Carter will appear on OPB’s "Art Beat" in the spring of 2007. His second collection of poems, entitled Patience, is forthcoming.

Penelope Scambly SchottPenelope Scambly Schott is the author of Baiting the Void, winner of the 2005 Orphic Prize for Poetry. Other books include Penelope: The Story of the Half-Scalped Woman (1999) and The Pest Maiden: A Story of Lobotomy (2004).

Schott’s poems resonate with the fragility of existence. She writes about both the ordinary and the sublime with beautifully wrought imagery. In "April Again," a poem reminiscent of a Dutch still life, the poet compares a dish of fruit, ripening into decay, to her aging face. Nothing is too humble to deserve observation. In "Snail Path," whose couplets echo the slow pace of the snail, the poet writes: "Whenever I need forgiveness / I follow the path of the snail / up a stone wall." Even in a devastating poem about the homeless, one finds the power and beauty of nature. The "dipper shines over towers / and its starry ladle dribbles equally everywhere…"

Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Georgia Review, Nimrod and other journals and anthologies. She has received four grants from the New Jersey State Council on the Arts, a senior fellowship from the Fine Arts Work Center in Massachusetts, a Vermont Studio Center residency, and a Wurlitzer Foundation fellowship.

Schott lives with her husband in Portland, where she is a member of two poetry groups and teaches poetry through the distance-learning program of Edison State College in Trenton, New Jersey.

October 2006

On October 24, come hear two writers who know the value of good storytelling and sumptuous language.

Judith MontgomeryJudith Montgomery’s poems appear in The Southern Review, Gulf Coast, Northwest Review, and The Evansville Review, among other journals. She’s been awarded fellowships from the Literary Arts and the Oregon Arts Commission, residencies from Soapstone and Caldera, and first prizes from the National Writers Union, Americas Review, Red Rock Review, Chaffin Journal and The Bellingham Review. Her chapbook, Passion, received the 2000 Oregon Book Award. Her second collection, Red Jess, came out in February 2006 from Cherry Grove Collections.

The poems in Red Jess envelope the reader in lush, musical language reminiscent of Gerard Manley Hopkins. These are startling poems, sad yet conveying grace and hope, poems that "miraculously radiate the possibility joy" (Nance Van Winckel).

Language and images from photography appear throughout the poems–openings and closings, exposure and enclosure, concealment and betrayal. In the end, however, it is the heart, "folded as a box," that the poet comes back to. In one of my favorite poems, "At the Metolius River, We Walk in Falling Snow," the poet and her husband walk into a winter’s evening. They are alone in their separate thoughts of mortality, death. Suddenly, hearing geese crying in the dark above them, they feel a stirring of hope as they turn toward each other, their "hands a bridge to cross the coming night."

With her husband, Phil, Judith lives in Bend, Oregon where she is poet-in-residence at Central Oregon Community College.

Michael StrelowMichael Strelow’s debut novel, The Greening of Ben Brown (Hawthorn Books, 2005), tells a somewhat true tale that is beyond belief. Utility worker Ben Brown turns green after an industrial accident. The mishap alters more than his skin tone, however, as he moves to the mythical town of East Leven (locals will recognize many familiar aspects) and becomes an eco-hero who uncovers a hushed-up chemical spill. Brown’s sleuthing forces the people of the town to unite toward a common goal or condemn themselves by resisting the truth. The book was a finalist for the 2005 Oregon Book Award in fiction.

Craig Lesley writes that the book is "fascinating, humorous, and wise" and that it "deserves its place on bookshelves along with other Northwest classics." Gina Ochsner says that The Greening of Ben Brown is "a compelling examination of community and what it means to love the land, for, as these characters teach us, there shall never be another quite like it."

Strelow has published poetry and fiction in a variety of literary magazines including The Bellingham Review, Willow Springs, Cutbank, Poetry Midwest, Kansas Quarterly, Sou’wester , Hubbub, Silverfish Review, Mr. Cogito and a number of anthologies. He is working on a second novel, The Moby Dick Murders. A former editor of the Northwest Review on the UO campus, Strelow now teaches English at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon and has lived in Oregon for 32 years.

November 2006

A Pre-Thanksgiving Night of Stories and Poems

On November 21, Windfall brings Erin Ergenbright and Vince Wixon to the library to read from their works. Probable themes include food, romance, childhood, and much more. The reading will consist of free snacks at intermission, a chance to purchase books by the authors and have them signed, and an evening of great entertainment in the form of the written word spoken by the writers themselves.

Erin ErgenbrightThe Ex-Boyfriend Cookbook: They Came, They Cooked, They Left (But We Ended Up with Some Great Recipes) (HarperCollins, 2002) is a collection of recipes and stories that Erin Ergenbright wrote with her friend Thisbe Nissen. The two met at the Iowa Writers. Workshop, and one day while they were planning a barbecue at their farmhouse, they realized they possessed between them a treasure trove of recipes from old boyfriends. They started trading stories, swapping photos and clippings and bits of letters, and ended up collaging them into a delightful and category-defying book.

The Ex-Boyfriend Cookbook is divided into six sections, with names like Slippery Things, Savory Things, Substantial Things, and Sweet Things. Chapters include "Wimpy Eddie Plinkett’s Manly Quiche," "Blackened Red Snapper James Said He Would Make and Never Did," and "Arrogant Neil’s Stolen Lemon Custard." Readers swear the recipes work, and so does the wit and humor.

Ergenbright’s writing has appeared in Tin House, Indiana Review, Paste Magazine and Portland Monthly. In the eclectic magazine The Believer, she has written about The Pull’R Inn Motel in Kalona (Quilt Capitol of Iowa), the planet Mars, and the monarch butterfly migration as shown in a music video by The Shins doing their song "Saint Simon."

Some anthologies that feature her work are The May Queen: Women on Life, Love, Work and Pulling It All Together in Your Thirties; Alone in the Kitchen With An Eggplant: On Cooking Alone and Dining For One and in After: Parenting Fiction from America’s Top Writers. She is also a co-founder of Portland’s Loggernaut Reading Series. She earned her MFA at the Iowa Writers Workshop, where she was a James Michener-Paul Engle fellow. Ergenbright currently teaches writing workshops throughout greater Portland.

Vince WixonVince Wixon has poems in various magazines and journals and in two anthologies, From Here We Speak and Weathered Pages. Working with Michael Markee, Wixon made two videos on William Stafford–What the River Says and The Life of the Poem–and one on Lawson Inada (current Poet Laureate of Oregon)–What It Means To Be Free.

With Paul Merchant, Director of the William Stafford Archive, Wixon has edited two of Stafford’s books on writing–Crossing Unmarked Snow and The Answers Are Inside the Mountains. He has also worked on Stafford’s selected poems, The Way It Is from Graywolf Press and Every War Has Two Losers (Milkweed Editions).

Wixon is the author of two books of poetry–Seed (May Day Press, 1993) and The Square Grove (Traprock Books, 2006). The Square Grove focuses on Wixon’s early life in Minnesota– where he grew up on a grain and dairy farm–and his current life in the Pacific Northwest. Paulann Petersen says, "With simple diction, fine imagery and a voice as satisfying as a drink of pure well-water, Wixon creates poems of striking economy and force."

Using internal rhyme, humor, and poignancy, Wixon evokes memories of childhood, rich in the details of farm life and the natural world. Here fields breathe, "snow pushes against the cottonwoods," and "the maple trembles with yellow finches." As the boy, Wixon worked the fields, kicked back the corn and dreamed about baseball. The Square Grove is both beginning and end; as the child becomes an adult, the poems focus more on the passing away of things and loved ones. More than a few poems hint at our mortality. For instance, these lines, from "After Reading Rilke": "Rilke writes, ‘We’re all falling’ / And the maple, trembling with yellow finches / drops its winged seeds / extends its green arms / to scratch our bedroom window. / Soon we’ll have to admit it."

Vince Wixon was Oregon Teacher of the Year in 1998 and retired from public school teaching in 2000. He and his wife Patty live in Ashland and are long-time poetry editors for Jefferson Monthly, the public radio program guide for Southern Oregon and Northern California.