April Events with me!

I’m giving several readings and talks this month–details below. If you’re local I’d love to see you!  April 8th 6:00 – 8:00pm – URBAN ARTS PLATFORM, Parking Garage Roof at The Northern Join us on Saturday, April 8th for a night of international and local talent featuring a stunning view of downtown billings atop the Northern … Continue reading April Events with me!

What’s in a Name?

“Nameless here for evermore.” – The Raven, Edgar Allan Poe Recently I got married, and in the moments when I wasn’t deciding where my grandmother would sit during the ceremony, or trying to remember if I ate lunch that day, a quandary of many female writers weighed on my mind–once married, should I publish using … Continue reading What’s in a Name?

Stonecoast’s Faculty Blog’s Literary Moments of 2012

Originally posted on Stonecoast MFA in Creative Writing Blog:
“2012” by hellojenuine courtesy of Flickr It’s that time of year when the world makes lists: best-of, top-this, best-that. In the tradition of fostering reflection, the Stonecoast Faculty Blog has come up with our own end-of-year list, our Literary Moments of 2012 (in no particular order).… Continue reading Stonecoast’s Faculty Blog’s Literary Moments of 2012

When Artists Retire

image courtesy of The Philip Roth Society

Last week, several American news outlets reported that novelist Philip Roth had written his last book.

Here is an excerpt from an article posted on Salon.com:

Roth said that at 74, realizing he was running out of years, he reread all his favorite novels, and then reread all his books in reverse chronological order. “I wanted to see if I had wasted my time writing,” he said. “And I thought it was rather successful. At the end of his life, the boxer Joe Louis said: ‘I did the best I could with what I had.’ This is exactly what I would say of my work: I did the best I could with what I had.

“And after that, I decided that I was done with fiction. I do not want to read, to write more,” he said. “I have dedicated my life to the novel: I studied, I taught, I wrote and I read. With the exclusion of almost everything else. Enough is enough! I no longer feel this fanaticism to write that I have experienced in my life.”

As an artist at the beginning of my career, Roth’s statements seem hard to believe. With more books to read than I can count, and story ideas that keep me awake at night, how could a lifetime be possibly long enough to read everything I want to read and write everything I want to write?

Roth’s statements bring to light a great debate or paradox for many artists: is being an artist a job or a calling?

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Cinderella Collection by Sephora: Playing Dress Up as an Adult

image courtesy of Sephora

Once upon a time, I was a little girl and I loved Disney. My toy-box wasn’t filled with blonde, blue-eyed Barbies, it was a museum of Disney cartoons in Mattel® form: Ariel, Jasmine, Belle.

I watched the movies, read the storybooks, wore the t-shirts, had the matching curtains and comforter for my bedroom (it was 1989, they were Little Mermaid). I lived in a replicated fantasy that Disney had created for me.

Then I grew up. I realized Ariel was swimming around in a seashell bra and had an alarmingly tiny waist. I watched as the Disney Princesses needed a Prince to come to their rescue. I saw the branding and merchandising take over with “princess culture” and felt puzzled, maybe even duped. Did Disney care about creating fantasies for me or did they just want me to buy the matching toothbrush to go along with my pajamas?

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Album Review: How We Hunger by Peddle Steal

I had the pleasure of meeting Dave Patterson, songwriter/bass guitarist for the aptly named band Peddle Steal when we were students together in the Stonecoast MFA program. He came to me when he’d heard about my third-semester project, Today’s Body, to ask me, “How’d ya do it?”

I told him I let myself get off track. I had an idea and it expanded, and it kept expanding because I let it: I was following inspiration.

He told me he was toying with writing some lyrics for his third semester project and I gave him a few pointers on how to survive the semester without going crazy.

Six months later I saw Dave again, and the first words out of his mouth were, “I produced an album.” His little lyrics idea had expanded into a recording project: the album How We Hunger.

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The Benefit of Knowing Artists

“I felt a twinge of regret that I wasn’t a writer or painter, someone special enough to be invited to talk with Gertrude, to sit near her in front of the fire, as Ernest did now, and speak of important things. I loved to be around interesting and creative people, to be part of that swell,” –excerpt from The Paris Wife, by Paula McLain

“Art Opening” by Vivian Chen via Flickr

My boyfriend pointed out to me recently that all my friends are famous. What he really meant was that several of the people I’ve grown up with have gone on to accomplish things in the public’s eye. I have a friend who works as an intern for the Seattle Symphony, I used to dance with a kid who had amazing pirhouettes; now he’s a New York based photographer who shoots Broadway stars, dancers, and occasionally, Abby Lee. My friend the jeweler just made a necklace for Lisa Kudrow. My boyfriend isn’t immune to the fame-brushing phenomenon; one of his friends is a World Fantasy, Nebula, and Hugo award winner. In short, there is no shortage of talented artists in our circle of acquaintances.

I’m not here to tell you that I think my friends and acquaintances are cooler than yours. Like Hemingway’s wife in McLain’s novel, it’s that I love “to be part of that swell.”

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