Gus Lee, author of China Boy
Visiting author on October 2, 3, and 4
Gus Lee will lead this storytelling workshop presented in conjunction with the PPLD/RMPBS Citizen and Student Journalism Contest.
Wed., Oct. 2 from 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m. – Tim Gill Center for Public Media, 315 E. Costilla
Reception and Lecture with Gus Lee at UCCS
This special ticketed reception with Gus Lee will be held in the UCCS Kraemer Family Library and is presented by the Asian Pacific American Cultural Endowment at PPLD. Tickets are $30 and can be purchased online at ppld.org/appr!
Fri., Oct. 4 at 4 p.m. – UCCS Kraemer Family Library
Lecture and book signing
The lecture and book signing is open and free to the public, limited seating.
Fri., Oct. 4 from 5:30 - 7 p.m. – UCCS Centennial Hall Auditorium
About Gus Lee
Gus Lee is a nationally-recognized ethicist and best-selling author of four novels, a family memoir of China and a unique work on courageous leadership. He is a leadership and character educator and an executive coach for leaders in corporations, government, non-profits, law enforcement, the military and NGOs. He has written for Time and Encyclopedia Britannica, was the Chair of Character Development at West Point, where he was mentored by then Major H. Norman Schwarzkopf. Gus has consulted to and learned from over fifty professions and industries, global organizations and leaders from every continent.
Gus has been a corporate chief operating officer, executive vice president, chief learning officer, government senior executive, acting deputy attorney general, senior deputy district attorney, U.S. Senate ethics investigator, FBI and law enforcement trainer, university assistant dean, paratrooper and drill sergeant. He served in the Infantry and JAG and jumped with the South Korean Airborne. He and Diane have two bio and two adopted children; one operates a mission that provides clean water to 800,000 villagers in 11 African nations; two have combat deployments as paratroopers; one teaches English in Korea and the three who are married have spouses of high character.
Steven Galloway, author of The Cellist of Sarajevo
Visiting author on October 14, 15, and 16
Interaction with classes at Colorado College
Celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving in the Carnegie Reading Room at Penrose Library. The evening will be highlighted by readings from two renowned Canadian authors: Steven Galloway and Steven Hayward. Open and free to the public, limited seating.
Mon., Oct. 14 from 6 - 8 p.m. – Carnegie Reading Room at Penrose Library, 20 N. Cascade Ave.
Lecture, musical performance, and book signing at Colorado College’s Cornerstone Arts Center
The evening will begin with a solo performance by cellist Pamela Chaddon of the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs, playing "Cellist of Sarajevo, Lament, op. 12" (dedicated to Vedran Smailovic in admiration and in mourning for the suffering people of Bosnia-Herzegovnia, 1992) - David Wilde. Following Steven Galloway’s lecture, Ms. Chaddon will be joined by pianist Robin Kessinger to perform “Sonata for Cello and Piano in E minor, op. 35” written by Croatian composer Dora Pejacevic. Open and free to the public, limited seating.
Wed., Oct. 16 from 6 - 8 p.m. – Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center, 825 N. Cascade Ave.
Bio for Steven Galloway
Steven Galloway is a Canadian novelist, born in Vancouver, and raised in Kamloops, British Columbia. He attended the University College of the Cariboo and the University of British Columbia. He is the author of three award-winning novels, Finnie Walsh (2000), Ascension (2003) and The Cellist of Sarajevo (2008). His work has been translated into over 30 languages and optioned for film, stage and radio. He is an Associate Professor and Chair of the UBC Creative Writing Program, where he has taught for the past 12 years, and lives in New Westminster. His fourth novel, The Confabulist, will be published in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, and Australia in the spring of 2014.
Bio for Steven Hayward
An internationally acclaimed novelist, Steven Hayward was born in Toronto, and is the author of Don't Be Afraid, The Secret Mitzvah of Lucio Burke, and Buddha Stevens and Other Stories. He is an Associate Professor in the English Department at Colorado College, as well as the host and executive producer of KRCC’s Off Topic.
Bio for Cellist Pamela Chaddon
Cellist Pam Chaddon is active as a chamber and orchestral musician throughout the Front Range. She is currently associate principal cellist for the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and enjoys playing for various church and small ensemble venues throughout the region. She has performed with many highly acclaimed organizations including Maryland, York and Loudon Symphony Orchestras, Gettysburg and Millbrook Chamber Orchestras, Shippensburg Festival Orchestra. She enjoys playing unaccompanied Bach in the Black Forest, where she lives with her family.
Bio for pianist Robin Kissinger
Pianist Robin Kissinger has performed on major stages of the world including Budapest, London, Seoul and across the United States. Along with playing much of the standard chamber music literature, she and Hungarian cellist Mihaly Virizlay performed together for decades, premiering a number of works by major composers written for them. Robin taught piano and coached chamber music and opera at Goucher College, University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Catonsville Community College. She has also maintained a private teaching studio for over 40 years.
Carolyn Wall, author of Sweeping Up Glass
October 24 and 25
“Experiential Speeches” with Pikes Peak Community College History
Students, stories from students on how they found their own voices through significant experiences. (pre-visitation, Ms. Wall not in attendance)
Wed., Oct. 23 at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. – PPCC Rampart Range Campus
Writing and Literary Workshop for PPCC students and Colorado Springs community with author Carolyn Wall and members of PPCC faculty
This workshop will explore a variety of subjects from writing fiction and nonfiction to journaling and finding one’s voice through creative writing.
Thu., Oct. 24 from noon - 4 p.m. – PPCC Centennial Campus Theater
Introducing Author Carolyn Wall
This event features a lecture from Ms. Wall concerning her APPR-selected book and her writing career. Following the lecture there will be a reading from Sweeping Up Glass with the book’s author. Also featured will be PPCC student vocal performances before a backdrop of visual art works from PPCC students. Following the reading, there will be a Question and Answer session.
Thu., Oct. 24 from 6 - 8 p.m. – PPCC Centennial Campus Theater
Voices in History
Join us for an inventive and non-traditional puppet show from the PPCC Natural Resource Interpretation (puppetry) class, with remarks by Ms. Wall.
Fri., Oct. 25 from 9 - 11 a.m. – PPCC Centennial Campus Theater.
Reception for Carolyn Wall featuring the announcement of winners of PPCC’s Creative Nonfiction Writing Contest
In celebration of the All Pikes Peak Reads initiative and the visitation of APPR author Carolyn Wall to Pikes Peak Community College, PPCC is conducting a Creative Nonfiction and Poetry writing contest. Centered on this year’s APPR, “My Voice, Our Future,” the writing contest runs from September 1 to October 1, 2013. Only currently registered PPCC students are eligible to enter the contest.
Winners of the Poetry division of the contest will also be announced with selected winners from both divisions doing readings from their winning works. A selected “Experiential Speech” will also be given during the reception. Author Carolyn Wall will give remarks on her time with PPCC students and give the writing contest winners a private audience for questions and counseling. A book signing with the author will follow. Very limited seating for the public,
Fri., Oct. 25 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. – Carnegie Reading Room at Penrose Library
Bio for Carolyn Wall
Carolyn Wall is the author of the soon-to-be published novel Playing With Matches. She is an Artist in Residence for the Oklahoma Arts Council and received the 2009 Oklahoma Book Award for fiction for her first novel Sweeping Up Glass. She has lectured and taught novel and short story writing across the country and twice received the Oklahoma Writers Federation’s crème-de-la-crème award. She has recently finished her third book, set in the American south, and is currently at work on another.
Former Denver Broncos linebacker Karl Mecklenburg retired in 1994, but he's never far from the public eye — or fans' hearts — due to his charity work. Well, now it's his wordsmithing that's bringing him around: At 3 p.m. on Sunday, May 5, the sack artist will sign, and talk about, his new book at the Chapel Hills Mall.
"You have to make decisions quickly in football; making no decision is always wrong," Mecklenburg writes in one excerpt from Heart of a Student Athlete: All Pro Advice for Competitors and Their Families. "When I coached high school football at Kent Denver, we had seven National Merit Scholars on our team. ... Even though the guys were so bright, one of our biggest challenges was trying to coach them to be decisive. Paralyzation by analyzation was the problem."
Last Friday, the 21st annual Pikes Peak Writers' Conference kicked off at the Marriott Hotel. It was a three-day sojourn through the most pressing questions and dilemmas writers encounter while trying to break out as an artist.
For those unfamiliar with the Pikes Peak Writers, since 1993 it has proven to be an invaluable resource for aspiring writers throughout the Pikes Peak region and, according to its website, its conference has been ranked in the Top 10 by Writer's Digest. The pearls dropped here are one hell of an insight into the business of writing.
I was fortunate enough to sit through a couple of sessions on the Friday's agenda. The first was a presentation from Chris Myers — author of Lennon's Jinx and Date with the Dead — on terms for new writers to know, terms like "elevator pitch."
As one unfamiliar with the business end of writing, I immediately pictured someone throwing a fastball into a stainless-steel elevator — wrong. It works more like this: Imagine being in an elevator with a literary agent. How succinctly can you pitch your book to him or her before the elevator reaches its destination? Like other people who get so tangled up in complexities of plot and character that they haven't wrapped the whole thing up in a neat ball, I'd never looked at it that way.
Following Myers, romance author Lisa Renée Jones took the mic to talk about some of the more enlightening topics I ran across: how to find the right agent, and how they should never count out self-published works. While most emerging writers cringe at those two hyphenated works, Jones, on the other hand, was super optimistic about this information, saying, "The reality is most agents aren't always willing to take a risk on brand-new authors with no following."
Beyond her words, the thing that struck me the most about Jones' hour-long session was how palpably one could sense her journey towards artistry, just really feeling the years of frustration pouring through her voice and facial expressions. She didn't become a best-selling author overnight, but grinded away at her business and craft for several years before anyone took notice. It's people like these that are invited to the PPWC's conference every year to show writers the rocky road to success. To my mind, this knowledge is beyond worth the price of admission.
In the meantime, PPW holds monthly meetings at Lofty's on the fourth Monday of every month; free Write Brain workshops, also monthly; and open critiques the third Wednesday of every month at Cottonwood Center for the Arts.
Voices of the Pacific: Untold Stories from the Marine Heroes of World War II, the latest novel to capture stories from those that served in the Pacific theater of World War II, was released in hardcover earlier this month.
The book's Colorado-based author Adam Makos will hold a reading and book signing at 3 p.m., Saturday, April 20 at the Briargate Barnes & Noble location.
From the publicist, here's the book's breakdown:
VOICES OF THE PACIFIC: Untold Stories from the Marine Heroes of World War II (Berkley Caliber Hardcover Original; $27.95) chronicles the United States Marine Corps’ actions in the Pacific Theater of Operations within the wider war, presenting the true stories of heroism and honor as told by such World War II veterans as Sid Phillips, R.V. Bergin, and Chuck Tatum—whose exploits were featured in the HBO® mini-series, The Pacific—and many other surviving Marines.
When Makos and Brotherton interviewed the marines who appear in this book, the two authors made them a promise: they could tell it as it was. No need to mask the horrors of war with humor, or to skip over certain memories in favor of light-hearted tales of brotherhood. With unflinching honesty, these men reveal harrowing accounts of combat with an implacable enemy, the friendships and camaraderie they found—and lost—within their companies, and the aftermath of the war’s impact on their lives.
These are the words of men who live in our communities, who’ve raised their children alongside our own, who’ve shopped in our stores, shared a drink with us. How did they return to a life of normalcy after what they saw, after what they heard, suffered, did? Readers will be asking themselves, what are these remarkable men made of?
With unprecedented access to the veterans and their families, never-before-seen photographs, and unpublished memoirs, Makos and Brotherton have created with VOICES OF THE PACIFIC an incredible historic record of American bravery and sacrifice.
Though co-author Marcus Brotherton won't be in attendance, two Colorado Springs-based veterans from the war will be.
Here's a little more on them:
• Frank "Doc" Evans was born and raised in Texas before joining the Navy in 1942. He arrived in the Pacific Theater and was assigned as a medical corpsman to the legendary 1st Marine Division during the campaign for the island of New Britian in 1943. On Sept. 15, 1944, "Doc" hit the beaches of Peleliu with the 1st Marine Regiment commanded by the legendary, Lewis "Chesty" Puller. As a medic, "Doc" attended to more than his share of casualties when his unit suffered greater than 70% losses on Peleleu and was withdrawn from combat.
Doc left the Navy in 1946 and worked until retirement in the TV business as a technician, most recently for Channel 9 News in Denver. He is a long time resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado
• Air Force Colonel William "Bill" Roche was born in Lexington, Kentucky and enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Forces in June 1943. He was made a gunner on heavy bombers and deployed to England in November 1944 to serve with the legendary 8th Air Force as a B-17 bomber's waist gunner with the 452nd Bomb Group.
In combat over Europe, Bill was shot down twice. Once his bomber crash landed in France and he was able to evade capture and return to service. The second time he was shot down behind enemy lines and made his way to Soviet-occupied Poland. After the war, Bill served with the USAF for over 32 years and retired as a Colonel. He later went to work for the CIA then served as a language professor at the Air Force Academy. Bill remains a long time resident of Colorado Springs, Colorado.
After his son, Erik, was killed by Las Vegas police in July 2010, Springs resident William Scott turned to his profession as a writer to convey his frustration and the pain of losing his son.
A recent press release about the book says:
The murder of a beloved son, a quest for truth and justice usurped by a broken legal system, and the battle with both grief and a blatant cover-up, led author William B. Scott to create a fictional tale rooted in every parent’s nightmare. The result is The Permit, a compelling techno-thriller novel based on the real-world murder of Erik Scott, who was gunned down by Las Vegas Metropolitan Police officers in front of a suburban Costco store in July 2010.
“My son, Erik, was murdered, because a BlackBerry in his hand was mistaken for a firearm. That senseless tragedy was magnified by a transparent cover-up orchestrated to protect his killers and a Cartel of Corruption that controls Las Vegas,” said William B. Scott, bestselling author and Erik Scott’s father. “When it became apparent that the traditional ‘legal’ process was failing my family, I turned to an effective asymmetric-warfare vehicle for revealing truth: Entertainment. A story that blended fact and fiction would expose the Cartel by showcasing its brutal methods and warped objectives. It’s a proven tool called ‘Justice through Fiction.’
It's not Scott's first book. The former flight test engineer and aerospace journalist has authored books about space warfare, which we reported on earlier.
At the beginning of Ray Oldenburg’s 1989 publication, The Great Good Place, he quotes Max Lerner talking about the “quest for community” in his 1957 writing, America as a Civilization. This “quest for community” is at the heart of a gracefully working society. In his book, Oldenburg discusses how we fulfill it, through what is called “the third place,” that is, places we spend our time other than work or home. According to him, these places are where we level in class, form communication skills through informal conversation, meet friends, relax our “professional” selves, and overall … have fun!
In laymen’s terms, Oldenburg is telling us to go to the bar, the coffee shop, the bookstore, the hair salon, and in the case of Colorado Springs… the library?!
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, El Pomar Foundation approved the Pikes Peak Library District for a $750,000 challenge grant to go to the Penrose location. PPLD plans to use this money to become one of these “third places” by "providing exactly what you need, in the format you desire, at the very moment it will benefit you most," and, as long as they are able to meet the challenge of raising $3.15 million by Jan. 1, 2016, it sure looks like they’ll be able to.
Already, the library has been working toward becoming a 21st century library (http://ppld.org/21stCenturyLibrary.) Renovations are being made to existing buildings; a completely new location is being opened in 2014 at 1175 Chapel Hills Drive; improvements to teen areas are in the works; and a series of rearrangements with offices, special collections and Adult Literacy departments will allow for a more efficient use of space. The East Library will open its entire second floor as a mammoth creative computer commons. Sounds like a media wonderland.
I spoke with PPLD spokesperson Travis Duncan, and Dolores Fowler, executive officer of the PPLD Foundation. Both seemed ecstatic about the new coming improvements. When asked about how they planned to meet the challenge of raising $3.15 million Duncan said, “It’s a challenge we are putting to the community for the 21st century library. We want the community to get involved, and to tell us what they want to see.”
Fowler mentioned “strengthening a real partnership between the library and the community, families and friends, more grant writing, offering opportunities to sponsor or donate items, name rooms, naming the coming creative computer commons, and much more. “
Lots of book news in my inbox recently.
• According to Publisher's Weekly, author Marie Lu, to whom we introduced to you here in March, will launch a Facebook game in December called Cities of Legend. It's based on her debut novel, Legend. The second book in her trilogy, Prodigy, will release in January.
• The Colorado Center for the Book is now accepting entries for the Colorado Book Awards. Per the release:
The Colorado Book Awards recognize the best books by Colorado authors, editors, publishers, illustrators and photographers published in 2012. Look for information on our Finalist Event in the spring. Winners will be recognized at the annual Colorado Book Awards held in Aspen in June 2013.
Eligible books include any work published by a Colorado author, illustrator, editor, publisher or photographer, and include hardcover, paperback and e-published books. All entry forms should be submitted online, but payment and copies can be provided online or through surface mail. Past categories have included: anthology, biography, children's literature, creative nonfiction, fiction, genre fiction, history, juvenile literature, nonfiction, pictorial, poetry, and young adult. It is acceptable to submit your own work.
For more information on how to submit, or to recommend a book published in 2012, please visit coloradohumanities.org or contact Christine Goff at firstname.lastname@example.org or 303.894.7951 x21.
• Left Coast Crime, the annual mystery/crime/thriller writing conference sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Chapter of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, will be held in Colorado Springs in 2013. The Cheyenne Mountain Resort will host the four-day event from March 21-24. Keynote speakers include New York Times bestselling authors Craig Johnson and Laura Lippman. Learn more here.
• Registration is now open for the 21st annual Pikes Peak Writers Conference. Keynotes for this year's April 19-21 event at the Marriott include Libba Bray, Barry Eisler, David Liss and Amber Benson. Learn more about both the conference and the hosting organization, Pikes Peak Writers, here.
From the listings desk: People were so tough back in the day. Before OTC N-SAIDS, before modern psychotherapy, before much of anything, people just had to suffer.
But not unwillingly.
They tried, doing the best they could with what they had, and while we scoff or pity certain methods or medical attitudes today, it's not the whole story. See, for instance, what clean, dry air did to tuberculosis, and by extension, what the consumption cure did to foster our fair city. (And just think how barbaric our treatments will look a mere 75 years from now.)
That's just my take on it, but for a truly researched approach, pick up a copy of the brand new Doctors, Disease, and Dying in the Pikes Peak Region by John Stansfield. The book, released by the Pikes Peak Library District's Special Collections Department, delves into "tales of the pioneers, traders, and military personnel who were both the purveyors and the recipients of needed care," as well as "the women and men who practiced medicine in this region, discussions about internationally significant developments for the treatment of tuberculosis and cancer, the impacts of epidemics on the community, mental health issues, and poverty."
The book will be officially released tomorrow at a party at the Carnegie Reading Room at the Penrose Library (20 N. Cascade Ave.) beginning at 2 p.m. Along with the signing and requisite refreshments, Stansfield and PPLD staff will perform a reader's theater playlet of "The Widow's Herd," which is based on a story by Dr. Charles Fox Gardiner.
Copies of the book are available for $24.95, but will be 15 percent off at the event, which is free and no RSVPs are required.
For another book on all things medical and western, click here.
If you read this week's cover story on Jason Lewis, you might have noticed that the timing was inspired, in part, by Lewis' book release.
Typically when we run book-related stories, they show up as a Fine Print feature, with short book reviews attached.
Well, "Lewis and the arc" grew into a larger feature, and, as such, our Short Stories this month have a found a home here, on the IndyBlog.
Today, the Business of Art Center announced that Black Cat Books, the Manitou Springs book store and wine bar owned by new BAC executive director Natalie Johnson, has moved out of its space in downtown Manitou and into the BAC.
Johnson opened Black Cat seven years ago, and in the past year or so merged it with the boutique clothing and accessories store safron of Manitou, which remains in the old location. Black Cat now takes the place of the BAC's gift shop, located in the 513 building, near the entrance. It will keep regular store hours: 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays and noon to 6 p.m. Sundays.
In addition to selling wares, Black Cat will serve as a space to host events, one of the first of which will take place Tuesday, Sept. 25 from 6 to 8 p.m. in the form of a "banned book reading," which honors Banned Book Week.
It's hard not to be a bit skeptical of specialized travel guides, such as Art Travel Guide: Must-See Contemporary Art Sites Across the USA, released this May by Connie Terwilliger. How soon before this information is outdated? Why did Terwilliger choose this location and not that?
Yet it seems Terwilliger — surprise — knows what she's talking about. She could be an art historian with her impressive familiarity with and understanding of the subject. For one, she recommends earthworks like Michael Heizer's "Double Negative" in Nevada, Walter De Maria's "Lightning Field" in New Mexico; museums like Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art (known for its Henry Darger collection and "room"); events like the Pageant of the Masters; and projects like Watts Towers and Coral Castle, built by highly driven, deeply mysterious, and usually lone, artists.
Those looking for traditional artwork won't find much in this guide. It's not all serious, minimal art (see the cover for proof), but Terwilliger focuses on modern and contemporary fare, skipping big institutions that most guides recommend in favor of smaller, off-the-beaten-path types, like Dia:Beacon of Beacon, N.Y. Having been there once myself, I can say it's not for the faint of heart: It's respectable and challenging collection includes works by the likes of Joseph Beuys (the reason for my visit), Richard Serra, John Chamberlain and Sol LeWitt. Of Dia:Beacon, Terwilliger writes, "This museum is heaven."
Aside from the highly designed Frank Gehry spots, Terwilliger favors places like Dia:Beacon, which are refurbished factories converted to museums. Not only are these places huge — Dia clocks in at 240,000 square feet — they are also usually home to the most unconventional artwork. See her choice of destinations: MASSMoCA, The Mattress Factory, City Museum and PS 1.
While the book design is friendly, and built to take the beating of travel, some of the images are a bit fuzzy and the writing comes with a fair share of errors. (Not a big deal, just a disservice to the effort that obviously went into her research.) Those aside, thanks to this book I'm now deeply intrigued by the Franconia Sculpture Park in Minnesota. This new-to-me attraction is home to Melanie VanHouten's, "Reclamation," a beautiful and bittersweet work consisting of a shack raised by cables off the ground, preserving, it seems, the skeletal memory of a childhood home.
Buy the book here.
The Aspen Summer Words literary festival and retreat culminated today with the Colorado Book Awards ceremony, honoring the state's best in writing and illustration. A total of 169 entries were whittled down to just 12 winners — one for each category. Additionally, Margaret Coel was honored with a lifetime achievement award for her "significant contribution to the Colorado literary community."
None of the winners this year are from the Pikes Peak region, unlike last year, when Kirk Farber took home the prize for literary fiction. However, Janice Gould, local poet and professor, was a finalist for her work, "Doubters and Dreamers."
Her other books of poetry include Beneath My Heart, Alphabet (a chapbook) and Earthquake Weather. She is the co-editor, with Dean Rader, of Speak to Me Words: Essays on Contemporary American Indian Poetry. She is an Associate Professor in Women’s and Ethnic Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.
— Colorado Humanities
LoDo's Tattered Cover will host a signing celebration with the winners at 7:30 p.m., Aug. 21. If you can make it, you'll get a chance to shmooze with not just any local authors, but award-winning ones.
Check out the list of all the winners after the jump.
We first met Abby Murray in 2010, when we profiled her newly created Writers Reading series. The event has since moved locations several times, but later in the summer will undergo a bigger change: Murray will leave Colorado Springs to get her doctorate at Binghamton University in New York, and turn the now every-other-month event over to a fellow instructor at Pikes Peak Community College.
"I’m really just going because I feel like, even though I finished my MFA, I’m not quite done having people tell me what to read, I guess," says the tattooed and pierced literary professor. "I just don’t feel like I’m done."
A frequent mover due to her husband's military service, Murray's a published poet who has lived in Seattle, Alaska, Vancouver, Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio. Then she moved here and started the series where anybody can sign up to read their written work before an audience (with a featured author capping each event).
Still, it was no small task. Actually ...
"It was [like] pushing a boulder uphill — like, I got a lot of resistance. I don’t really want to name names, because I feel like I’m still a little bit bitter about it," she says hotly. "So I don’t want to name names, but I did get a lot of people saying they didn’t want to help me; a lot of people saying it would be waste of time; a lot of people saying that I could spend my time more efficiently elsewhere; and a lot of people who just didn’t return my calls, and then who later I heard, once I became more active in the literary scene, heard about them talking about how important community is to them. And I was like, 'Really ...'"
In a wide-ranging interview held last week at Montague's, Murray talked about teaching, the future for local poets, the environment for aspiring authors, and what it means (and doesn't) to be an Army wife.
ON THE FUTURE OF LOCAL POETRY: "It seems like more people are gradually becoming interested. ... Yeah, I think people are starting to get more interested in it; I think it’s coming out of the slump of, ‘Why would I study that? It’s not gonna get me a job.’ And people are just now starting to realize ‘OK, I have a job, but I’m not happy.’"
ON HER FAVORITE FEATURED AUTHOR: "What’s cool about the series is that literally every reading, I’m always so nervous; I feel like I’m gonna throw up beforehand, and every time I leave I’m like, ‘That reading was better than last month.’ But, at the same time, I hate those PC, bullshit answers that don’t answer the question, so I think Kitty Jospe was out here in March of this year. She flew out from Rochester.
"It still amazes me I’m paying these people in [homemade] jam; and I’ve had people fly in from Boston, Rochester.
"And she was here and I feel like she got the most warm response from the audience. People really felt like they connected to her poetry."
ON THE SPRINGS' LITERARY SCENE: "I don’t get the impression that authors are helping each other very much in Colorado Springs. I feel like everybody’s more or less in it for themselves — and you kind of have to be. It’s become really cutthroat, and it’s become really, ‘I want my five minutes in the sun.’ To me it was very hard to get started here, because I really wanted a reading series where people were just nice to each other — play nice, like, I just want people to play fucking nice."
ON THE POETRY WEST ORGANIZATION: "They’ve been the most helpful in terms of the poetry scene. In terms of Colorado Springs, they had every reason to not be helpful to me — I don’t write like they do, I’m younger than they are — and they have been nothing but welcoming. They read in the open mic, they publish in their newsletter the upcoming readings; they’re always available when I e-mail them."
ON LOCAL CREATIVE MOTIVATION: "What’s weird here, and I think it has something to do with the environmental beauty that we’re living in in this town: it’s really difficult to live here and not have some good ideas for writing. It’s really difficult to live here and be immune to kick-ass stories and really good poetry. You know, we can kind of observe the country and what it’s doing from its center, so I think there are people here who just have top-notch, brilliant ideas.
"The problem, I think — according to me, a 29-year-old, I-don’t-have-any-right-to-prescribe-my-opinion-anyway — but according to me, there’s a lack of ambition here. I think people have really great ideas — nobody wants to lead. Nobody wants to do work, I guess, or talk to each other."
ON BEING A MILITARY SPOUSE: "I’m not really an active part in the whole Army-wife scene, mostly because I really don’t know how to go about it. It’s another culture. It’s really another lifestyle. It’s really weird, because in some ways it’s incredibly limited. Like, you’re allowed — just a warning: I’m being an asshole here, and I know it — you’re allowed to have certain personality traits. There’s, like, a certain line that you’re not allowed to cross as an Army wife."
ON HER NEW BOOK: "But that said, I think there are a lot of poems in the book that speak to a lot of what wives are going through, and not just me. The feeling like — it is really something else to wonder if your spouse is dead, like, every day when you wake up. Like, you know, ‘Haven’t talked to him in 12 hours, I wonder if something happened.’ And, like, every time you turn onto your street wondering if there’s gonna be a Dodge Durango parked in front of your house. So I think the poems aren’t just for, like, liberal, anti-Army-wife types. I think it kind of speaks to everybody.
"At least I hope it does."
A few book-related activities going on:
First up, on Saturday, June 2, photojournalist Steven Clevenger will host a signing and presentation on his book America's First Warriors: Native Americans and Iraq.
You can listen to a 2011 NPR interview with Clevenger, who's been covering wars for almost four decades, and see a slideshow of his work here. Then head to Poor Richard's Bookstore from 5 to 7 p.m. on Saturday to meet the man.
Next up, local author Robert Spiller is running a deal on the Kindle version of Radical Equations, the fourth book in his Bonnie Pinkwater mystery series.
Starting Friday, Radical Equations will be available online here for just 99 cents. If you're looking for a light, summer read, this series featuring a high school math teacher (written by a former math teacher) with multiple Colorado references might be just what you need. Now's a good time to check out this series, since Spiller is plugging away on the fifth book, Napier's Bones, and plans to release it in 2013.
Third, for those of you with kiddos, Pikes Peak Library District's summer reading program starts June 1 and runs through July 31. Learn more about how your children can win prizes, just for reading, here.
And finally, less book-related though still library-involved, PPLD now has the first season of the PBS hit Downton Abbey available to card-holders, for free. Learn more here. The video-loaning is a part of the library's OverDrive Virtual collection, which includes not only video, but eBooks and audio books.
The phrase "Happy Memorial Day" — which today finds its way into newspaper headlines across the country, as well as websites from ESPN to perezhilton.com — can be seen as:
• a more specific variation on the theme, "Happy Three-Day Weekend";
• a reflexive symptom of Hallmark-fueled desensitization;
• or an expression of the indomitable spirit of the American people.
In any case, the holiday itself is an observance that dates back the American Civil War, a remembrance of those lost in the theater of war that remains all too real and all too relevant to this day.
This past Friday, I received an uncorrected proof of Donald Anderson's Gathering Noise From My Life: A Camouflaged Memoir. Anderson is a professor of English and Writer in Residence at the U.S. Air Force Academy whom I'd interviewed, along with his student Jason Armagost, for a cover story a couple years ago. Armagost was in the lead aircraft of the "Shock and Awe" mission that signaled the beginning of the Iraq war.
Here is a passage from Anderson's memoir, which threads his own draft-age experience with those of young soldiers today. The book will be published by University of Iowa Press in September. Scroll down further for a video of Richard Thompson's "Meet on the Ledge" that may provide some measure of solace on this most poignant of holidays.
"Draft lottery '#1' for the 1970 drawing is July 9: my birthday. I immediately join Air Force ROTC. My plan is to stay clear of the army (more soldiers being buried than airmen). And if forced to Vietnam, I mean to be forced there as a lieutenant — an officer in charge of his future. The month I sign up for the Air Force Reserve Officer Training Corps, the Pentagon releases to the public news of 34 deaths in 209 incidents in Vietnam of officer "fraggings" — that is, U.S. officers being attacked by their own soldiers. Attacks on officers by their own troops in time of war reached unprecedented proportions in Vietnam, with some historians reporting as many as 2,000 incidents a year.
A female air force captain, recently returned from Afghanistan, rightly spoke of the youth of the troops: "All they want to do is eat pop tarts and play video games and all we do is give them grenades.'"