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Take the Cake – Literature

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From October 21 – December 15th, ArtPatch and the Henry Art Gallery presented a survey of past and present The Stranger Genius Award recipients. I took some pictures before my reading last month and the curator, Sara Krajewski, along Matthew Stadler’s text. His text was displayed on placards next to past winners of the lit prizes in History and Industry-style cases. I didn’t realize I couldn’t take pictures, although judging from the blurry nature of the photographs, I think I must have realized I could be booted. Museum guards make me nervous. In the last year I’ve been to museums in Baltimore, San Francisco, and New York, and invariably I am instructed to move my laptop bag to the front of my person. At the Henry, my furtive shots caused a guard to duck her head in and instruct me: no photographs. So I didn’t get a blurry shot of John Olson’s interesting box of things. All I have are a mound of his journals. But, here it all is if you are at all interested.

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Death to the Bookstore, Long Live Books and Stores

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Jackson’s Books in Salem where I read in 2002 and where I just read last night from Shoot the Buffalo (after a four drive there/four drive back) is closing at the end of this year. The co-owner of the store, Greg Millard, hid in the back well past the time the reading should have started. I wandered the stacks and tried to recognize anyone (the two or three patrons) who happened to be in the store. I could tell I freaked them out because they left. I was the only one in the store.

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Shooting the Library

Or “Shotgun Ideas about A Centralized Writer’s Website,” is something I wrote in 1998 or so and sent to Frances McCue at Richard Hugo House and she would actually read something as long as babbly and manic as this. I just found it doing house-cleaning. It’s the kind of thing I would have put on a blog in 1998. I think it captures some of my optimism at the time and some of the heady excitement about Richard Hugo House. It hadn’t yet become the broken-spring powered mechanism that is now. The Stranger also ran local books coverage. This was also an era when librarian’s hadn’t really adapted in a big way to the web. My conclusions on this front end up being whacked. Since 1998, librarians have been one of the few professions I think to really advocate for user rights on the Web both to digital access but also to the privacy of their digital records (such as the list of books they check out). They have shifted their professional responsibilities to accommodate changes in the digital world. With computer access becoming a function of the library, the library has become a site of producing new literary text in addition to a site of consumption.

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Open Office Hours

I hosted a reading on June 9th of people who came from the community to visit the Writer-in-Residence at Richard Hugo House. My tenure as Writer-in-Residence at Richard Hugo House was up on June 16th (Bloom�s Day).

As you may know, Hugo House offers free consultations with the Writers-in-Residence to anyone in the community.

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Resurrecting Utopia

Contemporary Music, Literature, and Art from the Oregon Territory

In the spring, I’m presenting a series of performances at Richard Hugo House in Seattle addressing the idea of utopia as reflected in Northwest Art. In March, writer Rebecca Brown will collaborate with visual artist Nancy Kiefer to look at the Northwest Mystic Painters. In April, the series will look at the communal experiments of the 1960s, and in May, Rich Jensen a writer and musician who has been involved in a number of utopian enterprises, will collaborate with Phil Elverum, a musician from Anacortes who has recorded music as The Microphones and Mount Eerie.

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Literary Production as Research Science

I think writers who make up stuff (you can call them literary if you like, this making stuff up I think being different than, well, murder mystery writers for instance who are really in the business of producing a clear commodity — the form of entertainment and are not really that much different than the manufacturer of beer or vibrators or whatever pleasure producing commodity you can think of and the problem with writers who make up stuff is that the thing they produce defies itself as a clear commodity because these things are a way of knowing something and I don’t mean to imply that they teach or are instructive like an instruction manual but like contact with something gruesome they leave the user altered. A pleasure producing commodity doesn’t change the user, but instead, produced affirms the user’s current sense of themselves. To read a work that is made up is to suddenly come in to contact with a way of being someone who is not you.

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The Seattle Public Library’s Faulty Information Architecture

In order to meet the demands of an increase in local book production, the Seattle Public Library must adopt an architecture that can categorize, store and connect these books with local readers.

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Seattle Public Library Writers’ Room

I attended also the opening of the Scanduzzi Writers’ Room (thank to the Seattle Public Library for inviting me). I was left with a perfuse sensation of gratification.

I like the roof missing in the writer’s room. I like idea that you can look down into the space and see literary production. It makes writing a living and vital component of the library and is a step toward addressing the flood of information being generated as a result of the information age. Rather than the books interred on the shelves, we can see the vital act of the books being transcribed from the writer’s mind into language.

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Regional Wrangle – Part I: Getting Past Landscape

This is the first in several parts of posting updates about last Thursday’s Regional Wrangle at Richard Hugo House where I wrestled with Lyall Bush on the topic of “Is there a Northwest literary style?” It’s a vile topic that inspires a great deal of boredom from just about anyone who actually produces work in the Northwest and a strange kind of bored anger by people from outside of the region. However in talking to Lyall Bush this last spring he realized that there was more the issue than the use in marketing various regional products to tourists: salmon, mass produced Haidi art, and trips to Mount Rainer. I also realized that the topic was completely obscured by the supposition that all northwest literary work has to bare obvious tokens of “northwestness.” This was handily summarized recently in Ryan Boudinot’s SALMON, TREES, CANCER: A PRIMER
How to Write a Great Northwest Novel.

So Lyall and I opened the topic up and invited people to buy some drinks and talk on the topic. Gregory Hischak was kind of enough to serve as the referee and by the end of the evening I think he didn’t want to here a single more invocation of Murray Morgan or drizzle.

I’m going to post several things to keep the record, starting with my comments.

Getting Past Landscape

I am thinking that regionalism can be thought of the in the way you might think of surrealism. Where surrealism is the investigation of the individual subconscious; regionalism is the collective subconscious.

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Writing as Knowing

Making language is making knowledge.

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