Lit Crawl & Corporeal Writing Wrap Up



Today is election day, and I am oscillating between feelings of absolute dread and the other of hope. That this threat that is looming is so great that the people of this country will respond in unprecedented numbers.

But really, what I signed on for, what I break my silence for is something entirely different. I had simply one of the most soul searching, inspiriting, challenging, healing three days I’ve ever had.

It all started with the Grief Rites LitCrawl reading I had the pleasure of reading at. Along with Daniel Elder, Deangelo Gillespie, Kate Carroll De Gutes, Pauls Toutounghi, and Amber Keyser. I read a piece about the dissolution of my writing group of ten years, and the growth I experienced as a result. It was hard. I was up there, with a little shake in my hands but I read the whole thing. I stood up and did it. And afterwards people I had never met before were telling me how much it meant to them.

They asked me about the line, “I became a writer first and a person second.” Which reflected much of the learning I’d gained from the experience.  After that I ran out to my car and hot footed it over to Kennedy School for the meet and greet portion of Lidia Yuknavitch & Domi Shoemaker’s Corporeal Writing Workshop.



Lidia Yuknavitch

I was an hour late and was knee deep already into people talking about where they were in their writing. When it came to me I said. “I feel like I’m recovering from an accident, with the break up of my writing group.” I spoke about the very thing I had just read about.

During the workshop, we found out that City of Weird, the Forest Avenue Press collection I have a story in was currently a Number One Bestseller at Lidia handed out copies of City of Weird at the workshop.

Two days later I am sitting in the Kennedy School, bearing witness to all the breakthroughs people experienced at the end of the workshop. Me, I learned a lot about me and my writing and how I need to walk the difficult path, on my own, to know that I can do this, I can make something new and something beautiful. I learned knew ways of getting to story and I learned that I can do this. That’s what Lidia taught me, she showed me how to take those first few steps.

Then last night at Melissa Dodson’s Grief Rites November reading at the post.I ran into a fellow Dangerous Writer Shannon Brazil, we talked at length about the challenge of each of us carrying on. To honor the work we did there. How we are all walking around checking in with each other, to make sure we are ok.

And now today, this election. This month has more in store for me, more writings, more readings, and for the first time in my writing life. I see the future as bright as the morning sun that hit me when I pulled into the High School where I teach.



City of Weird Publication Party, Powells Books, & Cassidy’s.

I’m at Powells signing copies of the anthology my short story, Always is in. When I sign my first few books,  I only signed my signature. It didn’t get until I was 5-6 signatures in before I thought,why not tie your quote to part of your story.

My story  takes place in a bar.

What I want readers to do is to stop what they are doing and  sink into it.

What I chose was “Have one on me.”

At the after party. Seeing everyone with so much joy about how this wonderful collection, came together like this, not just because of Portland, but because of the stories that  had to be told. It’s how important the written record is to a city full of so many ghosts.

Songbook #3 Wrap Up


Songbook #3 was a few weeks back and before I start the prep for Songbook #4, I wanted to share a few thoughts. First Michelle Overby wrote a piece about “Oh Darling,” by the Beatles, and it was a reminder of why she loves.

I wrote a piece about Crowded House’s song “In the Lowlands” it had bullies, the Grapes of Wrath and a long car ride through the midwest in 1987.

Kirsten Larson wrote a piece about Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire”, about a personal hell she went through.

Doug Chase wrote a piece on “Keep Me in Your Heart for Awhile,” the last song Warren Zevon ever recorded. He wrote about one summer and how much  he hated the song.

Brian Reid wrote a great piece about the Clash’s “Safe European Homes”, he wrote it with such pent up aggression, when we finally heard the song, you could tell everyone wanted to stand up and just mosh their way through the song.

Janelle Henderson read a few poems inspired by her idol, Bob Dylan and his song, “Tombstone Blues”. When I say idol, I really mean it, because when she read, she breathed life into Dylan’s soul, she propped up the old ’66 Dylan, think Bringing it All Back Home Dylan, think Blonde on Blonde Dylan with the heavy overcoat and the big hair. Janelle resurrected his personality through her own as a poet. It was a real treat.

Brian Tibbets closed out the evening with a piece that crawled up into our collective stomachs, the piece is truly heart wrenching. He wrote about bad decisions, he wrote about a younger version of himself, he wrote about No Means No song, “Victory”.

Join us July 10th for the next Songbook, with Liz Prato, Shannon Brazil, Shawn Levy, RV Branham, Hobie Anthony, Stephen O’Donnell, and Sean Davis at Post 134, Alberta Street.


Tomorrow Night! – Songbook #2, A Literary Mixtape

Songbook PDX

Tomorrow night I will host the 2nd installment of my biannual reading,  Songbook PDX , a Literary Mixtape. What is a Literary Mixtape? Think readers reading pieces about one song. How that one song shaped them in some way. After we hear the piece, then we hear the song. That’s right, I hit play and through Post 134’s PA system, we hear the song. We, the audience, we bring the worlds of music and literature, together, we learn lessons, we see things in new ways.

And the line up! Hobie Anthony on David Bowe, Hobie Bender on Leonard Cohen, Mo Daviau on Underworld, Josh Lubin on Jane’s Addiction, Amie Zimmerman on Prince, Steve Arndt on Bobby Darin, and me, your host, I’ll be reading about one song, the saddest song of all time.

7pm is the start time. I cannot wait to see you all there.

Love and Light,



Burnt Tongue 14

Saturday was the 14th Burnt Tongue. 14th. For the last four years, Domi Shoemaker has created an institution in the Portland writing community, a reading series that not only showcases what an immensely talented and supportive bunch of writers that we have here, but also acts as a launching pad for beginning writers. So many writers I’ve videotaped over the last four years now, had their first readings at Burnt Tongue.

The reading I did  is chapter from  my novel, Bella Vista, it’s a scene where the Mom of the story is painting her son for the first time.

Truth telling time: My mother was never a visual artist, or a drug addict of any kind really. Where all this comes from, these emotions I have tied to this character. I think it comes from parenting, I think that’s what this whole book is about. It’s taken me five years to figure that out. How to be a big person in a little person’s life. And that’s it, that’s why reading this felt like I was confessing something to myself. What I’m confessing, I’m still not sure of, maybe in the next five years I’ll figure that part out.

Thanks Domi, and congratulations on number 14 for Burnt Tongue.