West Seattle books – West Seattle Blog… http://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 21 Feb 2018 21:58:37 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.4 From ‘MacArthur Park’ to Pulitzer Prize: Colson Whitehead visits West Seattle High School http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/from-macarthurs-park-to-pulitzer-prize-colson-whitehead-visits-west-seattle-high-school/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/from-macarthurs-park-to-pulitzer-prize-colson-whitehead-visits-west-seattle-high-school/#comments Thu, 15 Feb 2018 23:45:15 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=909036 (WSB photos)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Before Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Colson Whitehead speaks tonight at Benaroya Hall downtown, he had a few other Seattle stops to make – starting at West Seattle High School.

Language-arts classes filled the WSHS Theater this morning to hear him talk about the writing life.

Teacher Sean Riley, who invited us too, said introducing Whitehead was “like a dream come true,” recalling speaking at a conference last year and getting stuck in a “real rant” of cynicism until he transitioned into a line from Whitehead’s award-winning novel “The Underground Railroad“: “Freedom was a community laboring for something lovely and real.” Riley explained that he feels that “critical thinking paired with hopeful action is a type of freedom.”

Then Whitehead took the podium, telling his own story, wryly.

He was born and raised in Manhattan, describing himself as kind of a shut-in yet not a “sickly child” as the stereotype goes – he “just didn’t like going outside.” He adored Stephen King. He said he hoped to write “the black ‘Shining‘” or “the black ‘Salem’s Lot‘.” But he grew into “more high-brow stuff,” speaking of discovering, for example, Samuel Beckett. In college he “considered myself a writer but I didn’t actually write anything” – he “wore black and smoked cigarettes” – then he tried writing, two 5-page stories, and encountered rejection.

Whitehead eventually found himself at the Village Voice, as a TV critic, and then his trajectory turned into books. And his presentation at one point involved a clip from the ever-mystifying twice-a-hit song “MacArthur Park” (“I grew up with the Donna Summer version”) – “the song poses an enigma, who left the cake out in the rain and why?” He said it wasn’t until he started “getting all these rejection letters” that he understood it was “an investigation of the artist’s journey … someone left my cake out in the rain,” and he read the lyrics from there. He spoke the names of publishing companies that rejected his work – “why did you leave my cake out in the rain?”

So, Whitehead continued, he started trying to think “what else I might be able to do” – saying he wasn’t fit for physical work, with physical characteristics more like that of, say, a pianist. He noted that a man with similar characteristics had recently served as president “so if that was our time, I pretty much missed it.” Maybe he could be a surgeon, “but then I heard about how long operations are … 10, 15 hours on my feet.” He joked that he’d gone into writing “so I could sit on my a** all day.”

The average successful book sells 5,000 copies. Even if those readers each convince 10 others to read it, with 5 billion people in the world, you’ve still barely made a ripple, he said dryly – noting he didn’t really want to scare the writers in the audience, but … the search for an audience could be daunting. “What about life on other planets, you might naturally ask yourself next … I hate to burst your bubble but scientists say the nearest planet in the solar system is 10 and a half light years away, and that’s quite far. …” and could there be a planet with a taste for what he does?

That led to a musing on evolution – how a friend of his “who’s a jerk” came to be. Neanderthal jerks falling in love and reproducing … all the way to the first Neanderthal existentialist (“hunting and gathering, gathering and hunting, is that all there is in this life?”).

As he “sat in my dirty apartment surrounded by rejection letters,” he realized he had to “start again,” so he did, and it “went better this time.”

Whitehead then invited questions. After a long instant, a student finally asked one. Why did he write a novel about a TV show first?

“Kind of a dumb idea,” he smiled. “I can write some genres – others are beyond my ability.”

Another student asked Whitehead to define an essay. He says he mostly writes fiction now, though maybe once a year or so he’ll write something nonfiction. The word comes from “to try,” he said, so he tries. He likes “the argument” of a short nonfiction piece. The novel-writing process takes a long time. “An essay is compact and short and when successful, has a complete linear argument … to try to capture something about the world.”

Another student: “What is your process when you write?”

Whitehead said he starts with an outline, while knowing that’s just a start. “It’s hard enough to find the right words each day …” let alone know what’s going to happen, so he knows what the outline sets out might change. “If I can get 8 pages a week, that’s 400 pages a year.”

Another student: “How did you actually get one of your pieces published?” Whitehead talked about the collaboration between writer and editor – sometimes not much interaction is needed, sometimes it is.

Referring to “Underground Railroad,” a student requested: “Can you give us a little insight into your personal connection to the book?” Whitehead said he was thinking about it for many years – in 2000, he thought about when he was a child and first heard the phrase “underground railroad,” and thought maybe it was a train. It wasn’t so much about slavery, he said, as “what can I get out of this kooky idea?” He said he also felt that he needed to be more experienced, more mature, to really do the subject justice. “So I waited.” Personally, he said, he realized, thinking back to Africans being kidnapped, enslaved, and abused, it’s “a miracle” that he’s here at all – that his ancestors survived.

Next: “You said you were depressed when people trashed your work …how did you get over that depression?” he was then asked. He said he realized he wasn’t going to get a job of the kind his parents hoped he would – lawyer or veterinarian – so he had no choice but to try again. And he realized nothing else would fulfill him like writing, so he had to keep going.

What kind of reaction does he hope his work will evoke? Some of his books have “more ambiguous endings,” he said, “open to interpretation,” so it’s really up to the reader.

“What was high school like for you?” He said he went to a “small friendly touchy-feely elementary” but then a bigger high school, where he was “a dork.” He said he found “my crew I liked to hang out with,” and some books he liked to read – he said his fourth book addressed that to some degree – “in short I was pretty miserable, also kind of happy; I survived.”

How did pop culture change between his newspaper days and now? “25 years have passed,” he noted. It’s much easier to find something you might hear about – track down a record, etc. “I kind of liked those days of foraging.” The cultural writing back then was “innovative,” he added, “you could talk about anything” – and now, “that’s taken for granted.” … “All the things that made me, 30 years ago, are available to everyone.”

“Do you feel connected to your characters?”

His reply distilled to “sometimes,” although with “Sag Harbor,” he said, he felt connected to the character, and from there, he has focused on characters. Overall “you move on to the next project – so you can’t really dwell on (the last ones).”

Where is his favorite place to write? At home – more freedom to wear what you want, do what you want.

Have rewards and attention changed him? He said he’s been in a good mood the past year … he used to wake up at 5 am “and be seized by terror and anxiety,” now he wakes up cheery (said sardonically).

Where do you get the names for your characters? He said Cora – the protagonist of “Underground Railroad” – was the name of the daughter of friends he was visiting. Sometimes it’s random … sometimes it’s research.

When you’re reading a book, how do you analyze what other authors are doing? “Sometimes I read for pleasure and go ‘oh, this guy is a real page-turner,’ but there are some books I read that are more meditative, constructed around voice, and you can admire someone” for what they’re doing. “If it’s really good I’m like, ‘note to self, I don’t have to do a five=page flashback’.”

What’s the most difficult thing to write (in terms of format)? For a newspaper, for example, you are somewhat constrained by someone else’s style, but for a novel, it’s your own. He doesn’t write short stories, he said.

What does he enjoy about writing? “The surprise” – when things deviate from his outline, “when characters appear, sometimes they do something different.” Having a breakthrough. “Some days it’s really hard, some days you realize you’re on this kind of weird journey with your brain about how you put things on the page, and you’re surprised.”

After his speech/Q&A, Whitehead was off to autograph books in a WSHS classroom. At noontime, we heard him on KUOW’s “The Record” (listen here). He appeared at WSHS as part of the Seattle Arts and Lectures Writers in the Schools program. More than 6,000 students in 28 schools, kindergarteners through seniors, are part of the program.

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What award-winning writer Jesmyn Ward told Chief Sealth IHS students http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/what-award-winning-writer-jesmyn-ward-told-chief-sealth-ihs-students/ http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/what-award-winning-writer-jesmyn-ward-told-chief-sealth-ihs-students/#comments Thu, 18 Jan 2018 02:42:42 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=906544

Tonight, award-winning writer Jesmyn Ward, visiting Seattle from Mississippi, is speaking at Benaroya Hall downtown. Local students and teachers got the chance to hear from her this morning at Chief Sealth International High School. The report is courtesy of Sealth faculty member Katie Hubert, who also shared the student-made photograph above:

Jesmyn Ward, two-time National Book Award winner, fielded questions from an assembled group of about 150 students and their teachers.

Ward, a first-generation college graduate, spoke of her youthful self’s academic drive and the encouragement she received from her parents. They wanted her to study “practical subjects” as an undergrad, but, “I didn’t feel the love, you know, when I was studying other subjects. And so, even though I thought I was disappointing my parents, I decided I would study what I love. That’s why I majored in English.”

She said her intention following graduation was to take a couple of years off, then, “take the LSAT, and do something smart with my life.” But life had other plans. “Six months after I graduated from college, my brother died. He was 19 years old, and he was coming home from work, and he was hit from behind by a drunk driver.”

“It was at that moment that everything changed for me. All these concerns I had about what people expected of me because I’d gone to college, all of a sudden those things didn’t matter any more.” She realized she didn’t have “infinite time.”

“Anyhow, I asked myself, if you die tomorrow, or next week, what did you do with your life that would give it meaning, and the immediate response was, writing. I want to write stories.”

She answered questions from students ranging from her favorite authors (James Baldwin and William Faulkner), books she found influential (As I Lay Dying and Their Eyes Were Watching God), and whether her life or formal education were more influential. (Her formal education.) She described her writing process (she doesn’t use an outline), how to combat writer’s block (do an exercise such as having two characters meet at a coffee shop), and how to end a chapter (make sure there’s tension).

Ward won her first National Book Award in 2011 for her second novel “Salvage the Bones,” and her second one in 2017 for “Sing, Unburied, Sing”; she is the first woman to win two NBAs for fiction. She also received a MacArthur “Genius Grant” last year.

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WEDNESDAY: Nancy Pearl, Susan Landgraf at WordsWest Literary Series http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/wednesday-nancy-pearl-susan-landgraf-at-wordswest-literary-series/ Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:43:03 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=906426

She just might be the most famous librarian ever – she even inspired an action figure. Tomorrow night, Nancy Pearl (above right) will be in West Seattle, appearing in the next edition of WordsWest Literary Series, 7 pm (Wednesday, January 17th) at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor). Pearl and poet Susan Landgraf are this month’s headliners. The theme, as described in WordsWest’s announcement, is “‘Broken Promises — Resolutions, Riots, and Repair,’ an unearthing of the stories that lie under promises made to loved ones and to the land, promises abandoned, and the incremental mending.” Pearl has recently added “novelist” to her resumé, with the publication of “George and Lizzie.” Landgraf’s most-recent poetry collection is “What We Bury Changes the Ground.” You can read the full announcement in our calendar listing. Susan Rich, one of WordsWest’s curators, says they’ll also be collecting donations at the event (for which admission is always free) for C & P’s down-payment crowdfund.

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NEW YEAR, NEW LOCATION: ‘Words, Writers, West Seattle’ moves http://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/new-year-new-location-words-writers-west-seattle-moves/ Wed, 03 Jan 2018 17:13:37 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=905351 This Friday brings 2018’s first Southwest Seattle Historical Society-presented author appearance in the “Words, Writers, West Seattle” series. But you will not find it at the longtime location (Barnes & Noble) – starting this month, the first-Friday events are moving to the library. This time, architectural historian David Hansen talks about his book “Battle Ready,” 5-7 pm Friday (January 5th) at Southwest Library (9010 35th SW). It’s a “scholarly study of the Puget Sound forts” 1894 to 1925, describing “designs, innovations, frustrations over implementation plans, and the experience of serving in the fortifications during their period of greatest importance.” (Read more in our calendar listing.) The format remains a free drop-in event; watch for updates on topics and locations for the months ahead.

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BIZNOTE: Merryweather Books in The Junction says it’s closing http://westseattleblog.com/2017/12/biznote-merryweather-books-in-the-junction-says-its-closing/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/12/biznote-merryweather-books-in-the-junction-says-its-closing/#comments Sat, 02 Dec 2017 22:45:06 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=902566

Thanks to the tipster who sent that photo of a sign up at Merryweather Books (4537 California SW) in The Junction, announcing it plans to close. The sign says the store will continue with regular hours through December, and then start winding down next month. The space has been a used-book store for decades, previously known as Leisure Books. No word yet what might follow in that space, but we’ll be following up.

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GOT BOOKS? West Seattle Food Bank has people who need them http://westseattleblog.com/2017/11/got-books-west-seattle-food-bank-has-people-who-need-them/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/11/got-books-west-seattle-food-bank-has-people-who-need-them/#comments Thu, 30 Nov 2017 22:18:45 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=902331 If you have books you don’t need any more – for kids or adults – here’s how to get them to people who will read them!

The West Seattle Food Bank Bookcase is running extremely low on a number of categories of books for this holiday season especially children’s picture books and easy readers, as well as teen books, and adult fiction and non-fiction. Donations are accepted Monday-Friday 9 am – 3 pm and Wednesday until 7pm at 3419 SW Morgan St. at the corner of 35th & Morgan. Have a wonderful holiday season.

WSFB is on the southeast corner of 35th and Morgan. We’re adding this to the WSB West Seattle Holiday Guide‘s “how to help” section, too – if you have a donation drive, fundraiser, volunteer need, etc. this season, please let us know!

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AT THE LIBRARIES: ‘Peak Picks’ program goes system-wide today http://westseattleblog.com/2017/11/at-the-libraries-peak-picks-program-goes-system-wide-today/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/11/at-the-libraries-peak-picks-program-goes-system-wide-today/#comments Mon, 20 Nov 2017 23:07:29 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=901469 The Seattle Public Library says it’s going system-wide as of today with the Peak Picks program, which it’s been testing at eight locations (none in West Seattle). This is meant to increase availability of in-demand titles (bestsellers and more) – no holds, no renewals after the two-week checkout period, first-come first-served. If you don’t already know, West Seattle’s library branches are in Admiral (2306 42nd SW), Delridge (5423 Delridge Way SW), High Point (3411 SW Raymond), and Westwood (the Southwest branch at 9010 35th SW).

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Girl Scouts create, install West Seattle’s newest Little Free Library http://westseattleblog.com/2017/09/girl-scouts-create-install-west-seattles-newest-little-free-library/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/09/girl-scouts-create-install-west-seattles-newest-little-free-library/#comments Wed, 27 Sep 2017 21:02:52 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=896114

The report and photos are by Jenny Mandt (thank you!):

Olivia Lundstrom (left) and Ava Geary, members of Girl Scout Troop #40890, recently installed a Little Free Library geared to young readers outside Fauntleroy Church.

It was their troop’s Silver Award project – the highest award a cadette (6th-8th grade) can earn – and the design mirrored the church’s iconic sanctuary window. The troop partnered with the church to encourage the love of books in young readers and invites everyone to take or leave a book, especially titles for pre-school through middle-school readers.

SIDE NOTE: Just two and a half weeks until the Fauntleroy Fall Festival, at the church (9140 California SW) and at Fauntleroy Schoolhouse across the street – 2-5 pm Sunday, October 15th!

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Don’t just read them – see them! WordsWest Literary Series starts season 4 this Wednesday http://westseattleblog.com/2017/09/dont-just-read-them-see-them-wordswest-literary-series-starts-season-4-this-wednesday/ Tue, 19 Sep 2017 04:40:28 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=894546 (WSB photo: WordsWest co-curators Susan Rich, Harold Taw, Katy Ellis)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

The three West Seattle writers who co-curate WordsWest Literary Series say it’s the kind of series “we would like to be invited to.”

WordsWest opens its fourth season this Wednesday night at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) and co-curators Harold Taw, Katy Ellis, and Susan Rich say it’s become everything they hoped it would be, and more.

While we regularly feature WordsWest in the WSB calendar and previews, we thought the start of the season would be a good time to check in with the co-founders, to re-introduce (or, if you’re new here, introduce) them and what it is they do each month. So we sat down with Susan, Katy, and Harold for that check-in over lunch at Easy Street Records one recent midday.

First – we should mention that WordsWest events usually feature two writers, in an innovative format, plus a community member reading a “favorite poem,” and a chance for interactivity with the dozens of attendees. More on the 7 pm Wednesday season-opener lineup a bit later – but first, the start of their story:

Susan – who had just come back from the Poets on the Coast retreat she runs in LaConner – explained that she and Katy met at the city’s best-known bookstore, Elliott Bay Books, introduced by a mutual friend. Talking, they agreed, “wouldn’t it be nice to go to a reading without having to cross the bridge?”

An early topic of discussion: “What would we call it?” And during that discussion, Susan suggested her friend Harold “would be a really great partner.” So they brainstormed “but we didn’t know if people would come,” Susan noted – “and they’ve come.”

That’s not a surprise, given the writers they’ve booked for WordsWest. Even in the first year, Harold recalled, “we had three people who were nominated for the Washington State Book Award” – featured at WordsWest before those nominations. “We’re doing pretty well in terms of people wanting to be readers” for the series. Past readers also have included Washington State Poet Laureates.

Some audiences, Susan adds, have been standing-room-only – for example, when they featured National Book Award-winner Terrance Hayes last April. (That was the result of a partnership with Highline College, where Susan teaches; every April, they’ll have a nationally known poet.)

Another vivid memory from WordsWest Season 3 – the third annual Kids’ Night, when they featured the very popular Sundee T. Frazier and Kazu Kibuishi. “That was a little crazy,” Harold smiled, adding that “when I told my son that (Kibuishi) was coming, he went screaming around the house.”

You don’t have to be related to one of the co-curators to be a WordsWest fan. “We have a very loyal following,” Katy notes. The venue – the cozy Craftsman-home living room at C & P Coffee – is a draw as well as the writers. The three are grateful to C & P co-proprietors Cameron Moores and Pete Moores for donating the space, recalling that “they always imagined they would have this kind of community gathering.”

Susan points out that Katy mentioned in another interview that it’s important for people to get together in person, face to face, more than ever these days. Harold says writers’ work can open the door for conversation about “what’s happening now … the questions that people are presenting in their art are not what they seem on the surface.” One example: Between Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Inauguration Day, last January’s WordsWest featured Anastacia Renée Tolbert and Claudia Rowe with the theme “Dreams Deferred”:

Community participation is a WordsWest hallmark as well. Katy explains “the ‘West Seattle’s Favorite Poem’ project. The original idea was, how can we get the community involved?” so they talked to local businesses to invite reps to come read their favorite poem aloud during the program. “The only ulterior motive is that (readers) will bring friends to hear you read your favorite poem. … (And) it is a way for people to get their businesses out there.” Susan notes that the Hedgebrook women’s writing retreat on Whidbey Island usually sponsors one WordsWest event a year, so on that night, a Hedgebrook alum usually reads her favorite poem.

Then there’s the annual West Seattle Food Bank benefit, just before Thanksgiving.

The series itself benefits the writing community, not just by providing a showcase. The writers are paid, Susan points out, and get to sell their books without WordsWest taking a cut. The night is recorded on audio, so the writers get that and can share it on their own websites. (More than 20 of the WordsWest events are archived on video, too.)

For the co-curators, it’s “like literary nourishment,” Harold says. “We (get to) hear diverse voices, the kind of voices we don’t always read – it’s like a book club, being exposed to new writers and folks we haven’t heard before – such a neat experience – these days, where do you get that from?”

As for the attendees – Harold goes back to last year’s Kids’ Night, when the readers included Dana Simpson of “Phoebe and Her Unicorn”:

“The kids were so enthralled, they were all drawing their own comics,” Harold enthuses. “It was so cool … (seeing and hearing authors) demystifies the idea of being a writer – (the kids) see themselves as writers,” and that extended to Kazu Kibuishi this past June, “giving kids lessons afterward, showing the kids how to do 3D drawings …”

Grownups might find a unique opportunity at WordsWest, too. “Sometimes we have writing exercises,” Harold said. “You realize you’re part of this writing community – not just ‘audience and authors’.”

The format also is unique, Katy explains, not one writer doing their reading followed by the next. They trade off, in a “braided” fashion, with “echoes of themes bouncing off each other.” Then a break, then the favorite poem, then the writing workshop or Q&A, something interactive, as happened during the appearance of radio journalist Ruby de Luna and playwright Stephanie Timm:

If you don’t want to participate, don’t worry, you won’t be forced to – participants volunteer, Susan says. “We feel like it’s really different than what happens at other readings – the idea is that we want it to be alive.”

The “welcoming environment” at C & P helps in a big way, Harold notes. And along with bringing in a sizable audience each month, WordsWest has enhanced C & P by starting a reading library with the featured writers’ books. Not only did Pete and Cameron embrace the idea, Susan says, “they painted the shelf a beautiful bronze color.”

So if you go to C & P for the WordsWest season opener on Wednesday night, what will you see/hear?

Katy answers: Daemond Arrindell brings “poetry, spoken word,” and more. He’s known as “kind of a motivational speaker for young people,” through Writers in School work.” Much of his focus is on social justice.

Jeanine Walker is a poet and musician, who “has another life as the host of a variety show in Columbia City, ‘Mixed Bag’ – standup comedy, skits, videos with her husband, and a new CD she’ll be selling.”

She and Daemond have known each other a long time, which should enhance the “braided” nature of the reading.

The favorite poem will be read by Maketa Born, who also will be playing the hand drum and welcoming the crowd.

The whole year is set up already, by the way, the co-curators tell us – except for Kids’ Night in June. Harold laughs, “We have nine months to figure it out.” (And if you’re a published author in West Seattle and haven’t already been part of WordsWest, they’d love to hear from you!) And figure it out, they will … “We’re talent scouts,” Katy explains. “It’s so great that we have three co-curators – we have support – if one of us is totally swamped, the others can help pull it together.”

“I think we work pretty well together,” Susan agrees.

“We hardly ever poke each other’s eyes out,” Katy jokes.

“Very rarely,” Harold adds.

It’s not just a matter of booking writers, of course, to make a literary series happen. Since admission is free, getting money to pay the writers who appear has meant pursuing grants and sponsors, and cobbling together other funding, partnering with independent bookstores on occasion, too. They also have some help from interns for the second year – “two absurdly talented interns,” says Harold, “both published poets.”

Speaking of published … we haven’t said anything about the co-curators’ impressive resumés. We ask what’s new with them, and everyone points to Katy, whose next book “Night Watch” will be out October 8th. She’s already won the Floating Bridge Press 2017 Chapbook Award, we’re told – which, Susan notes, is a big deal.

Harold premiered a new musical this summer and is working on a novel.

Susan is working on her fifth book.

And while writing is an art that usually means much time spent alone with your words and thoughts – Wednesday you will find all three of these writers, plus their featured readers, anything but alone, at C & P (5612 California SW) for the season-opener of WordsWest Literary Series. You’re invited to join them.

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WEST SEATTLE SCENE: Author Lyanda Lynn Haupt’s hometown reading http://westseattleblog.com/2017/09/west-seattle-scene-author-lyanda-lynn-haupts-hometown-reading/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/09/west-seattle-scene-author-lyanda-lynn-haupts-hometown-reading/#comments Sat, 09 Sep 2017 02:45:54 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=894332 (WSB photos)

For the first time since the publication of her newest book “Mozart’s Starling,” West Seattle author Lyanda Lynn Haupt talked with a hometown crowd tonight. She was this month’s featured writer in the Southwest Seattle Historical Society-presented Words, Writers, and West Seattle author series, which usually happens at Barnes & Noble/Westwood Village on the first Friday of each month, but was pushed back a week this time because of the Labor Day holiday.

Haupt is known for writing about wildlife – particularly the winged variety, as you know if you read her book “Crow Planet” – and this book features the often-disparaged yet fascinating starling. Just stopping in for a few minutes, we learned a few fun facts including that baby starlings need to be fed every 20 minutes and prefer temperatures around 85 degrees – which is what it gets to in a nest full of little ones. If you missed her tonight, watch for video on the SWSHS website soon, and/or check out her upcoming appearances elsewhere in the region.

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HAPPENING NOW: First of 4 West Seattle events for park-guidebook author Linnea Westerlind http://westseattleblog.com/2017/08/happening-now-first-of-4-west-seattle-events-for-park-guidebook-author-linnea-westerlind/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/08/happening-now-first-of-4-west-seattle-events-for-park-guidebook-author-linnea-westerlind/#comments Sun, 13 Aug 2017 20:22:12 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=891769

As previewed in our West Seattle Sunday list, local author Linnea Westerlind is signing copies of her new guidebook “Discovering Seattle Parks” right now at Click! Design That Fits (WSB sponsor) in The Junction. She’s there until 3 pm, and it’s the first of four West Seattle events for her this month. This Wednesday (August 16th) at 11 am, she’s leading a free “kid-friendly park walk” at Jack Block Park – “stroller-friendly and about one mile round trip.” Details, including where to meet, are in our calendar listing. Also on Wednesday, at 6 pm, she’s presenting a talk and slideshow at Kenyon Hall – free admission – and selling her book. Then on Saturday, August 26th, starting at the north parking lot in Lincoln Park, she’ll lead a free guided walk through several local parks, about 4 miles round trip, lasting up to two hours.

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West Seattle’s Linnea Westerlind writes city’s first parks guidebook in 40+ years http://westseattleblog.com/2017/06/west-seattles-linnea-westerlind-writes-citys-first-parks-guidebook-in-40-years/ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/06/west-seattles-linnea-westerlind-writes-citys-first-parks-guidebook-in-40-years/#comments Wed, 14 Jun 2017 23:01:22 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=885800
(WSB photo: Linnea Westerlind at Lowman Beach Park)

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

Eight years ago, West Seattle writer Linnea Westerlind “decided all of a sudden to try to visit all the parks in the city in a year.”

The quest to visit those 400+ parks led to a four-year adventure, the website yearofseattleparks.com, and now, a book, “Discovering Seattle Parks: A Local’s Guide.”

Not that she wasn’t already having enough of an adventure, as the parent of a son who was six months old at the time she started her exploration – and then, “in the middle of that, I had twins.”

So with three little park-going companions, she continued the park visits. “I loved parks and was just in love with the park system and decided to turn it into something more tangible.

“Discovering Seattle Parks,” just published by Harbor Island-headquartered Mountaineers Books, is the result. It’s also, Westerlind says, the first guidebook to Seattle parks in more than 40 years, spotlighting more than 100 of them.

After hearing about it, we requested an interview, and sat down at one of her favorite West Seattle parks – Lowman Beach – this past Monday.

Lowman is featured on pages 216-217 of her book, and as with other entries, this one will teach you something you probably didn’t know about the park – who donated it to the city and who it’s named after. (The information is so up to date, it even mentions the just-completed Murray combined-sewer-overflow facility across the street and its viewpoint attributes.)

This is Westerlind’s first book; her writing background is mostly in public-relations communications, “lots of writing for different companies,” currently focused mostly on nonprofits.

Parks #99-#110 in her book are in West Seattle and South Park. If you think you’re an expert on the parks here, you might be interested in suggestions for other parks in the city to enjoy. We asked Westerlind about her favorites: “Woodland Park [p. 97-100],” for its “great amenities,” including lawn bowling and a BMX bike course. “I also love East Montlake Park [p. 172-173], right in that little island between the 520 Bridge and University of Washington … then down in South Seattle, there’s a quiet little stretch called Chinook Beach Park [p. 183-184], with a lovely rocky beach that’s become an important place for salmon.” It’s on Lake Washington, just a few miles from the Cedar River.

With three young sons – the oldest now 8, the twins almost 6 – we figured she would be an expert on playgrounds, too. (The entries in the book are accompanied by icons marking them for/as kid-friendly, dog-friendly, barbecue grills, views, beach or waterfront, spray park or wading pool, unpaved trails, paved paths, historic significance, accessible, public art, and/or gardens.)

“My kids tested hundreds of playgrounds!” she said. The ones that impressed her/them: Montlake Playfield [p. 170-172] near Highway 520, with a “fantastic playground for older kids, a cool obstacle course, unusual spaceship-type climbing (toy).” Also, “Powell Barnett Park [p. 145-147] in the Central District,” with a “nice mix of challenging climbing equipment and cute, colorful climbing toys for little ones,” plus a “nice walking path.” In West Seattle, Ercolini Park [p. 217-218] is her favorite kid-friendly neighborhood park, not just for the legendary toys but also for the “little loop trail … I spent a lot of time walking that in circles.”

You will find driving and transit directions to parks in her book, too. And each chapter is “anchored around a major park,” with those “anchors” also including trail maps. One more bonus feature: The last chapter spotlights major regional parks outside Seattle, “worth the drive.”

Westerlind took the photos you’ll see in the book and is excited that many were published in color – though she certainly has spent many a gray day in parks, too (including the day of our interview). Overall, she says, “I’m just excited to share my favorite parks and inspire people to explore and be outside, especially for families, I’m really passionate about getting kids outside … and Seattle has such a great park system. We’re lucky … so many amazing places we can explore and new things we can find everywhere. … I think the book can appeal to people with a broad interest – hiking, looking for new offleash areas, parents looking for playgrounds … something for everybody. Hopefully even for longtime West Seattleites, there’ll be something new to discover in West Seattle parks.” And she hopes it will be helpful to new arrivals as well.

Her website complements the book – it includes all 400+ city parks, while the book “only” gets to 122, including the aforementioned group of regional parks outside Seattle. Her website includes more than 50 regional parks, street ends, “interesting public-access” spaces, too.

Westerlind has a variety of events coming up around the city this summer at which you can meet her and find out more about the book. The first one is tonight. Here’s the list, so far:

June 14th (tonight), The Mountaineers Program Center Event for Youth and Families, 6-8 PM.

June 19, 7 pm University Bookstore (U District HQ)

June 22, 6 pm Fjall Raven Store Appearance, 1113 1st Ave.

June 24, 3:30 pm, Booktree Kirkland

August 13, 10 am-2 pm, Click! Design That Fits (West Seattle)

August 24, 7:30 pm, Third Place Books, Seward Park

She’ll be updating her appearances on her website’s events page, and hopes to lead a few park walks this summer, at least one in West Seattle.

The book, by the way, is 256 pages, listed at $18.95, and will be widely available in stores by next week – locally, at Metropolitan Market (WSB sponsor) and Alki Mail and Dispatch – you can buy it from the publisher online, too.

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WEDNESDAY: WordsWest Literary Series presents ‘A Kids’ Night of Invention and Adventure’ http://westseattleblog.com/2017/06/wednesday-wordswest-literary-series-presents-a-kids-night-of-invention-and-adventure/ Wed, 14 Jun 2017 00:19:00 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=885911 The monthly WordsWest Literary Series has something extra-special tomorrow (Wednesday) night – “A Kids’ Night of Invention and Adventure” with Sundee T. Frazier and Kazu Kibuishi, whose books should be instantly recognizable to many young readers and their families:

In case you hadn’t already seen it in our calendar, the official announcement:

“A Kids’ Night of Invention and Adventure” with Sundee T. Frazier and Kazu Kibuishi

Favorite Poem and Summer Reading Table by Jenny Cole, Co-Owner of Page 2 Books

Special time: 6 pm

At C & P Coffee Company, 5612 California SW

Yummy treats will be served!

Sundee T. Frazier is an ALA Coretta Scott King Award winner for Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It. Her heartfelt, entertaining stories address subjects close to her heart: ethnic identity, growing up in interracial families, and multi-generational dynamics. Her books have been nominated for twelve state children’s choice awards and been recognized by the Children’s Book Council, Oprah’s Book Club, and Kirkus Reviews (Best Children’s Books of the Year). Her latest is Cleo Edison Oliver in Persuasion Power about an irresistible 10-year-old entrepreneur. Cleo is one of ten books in Seattle Public Library’s 2017 Global Reading Challenge. Sundee lives in Renton.

Kazu Kibuishi is the writer and artist of the New York Times-bestselling AMULET graphic novel series, published by Scholastic. He is also the editor/art director/cover artist of the EXPLORER and FLIGHT Comic Anthologies, and is the cover illustrator of the Harry Potter 15th Anniversary Edition paperbacks from Scholastic. His debut graphic novel, Daisy Kutter: The Last Train, won a YALSA Best Books for Young Adults Award. Born in Tokyo, Kazu moved to the U.S. with his mother and brother when he was a child. He graduated from Film Studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 2000, and moved to Los Angeles to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. He currently works as a full-time graphic novelist. Kazu lives near Seattle with his wife and two children.

Every third Wednesday at C & P Coffee Company, WordsWest hosts literary events that range from readings by published local and national authors, to guided writing explorations. Each month we also host a community member to share his or her favorite poem as part of the Favorite Poem Project. WordsWest is curated by West Seattle writers Katy E. Ellis, Susan Rich, and Harold Taw.

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‘PNW VEG’: Kim O’Donnel’s cookbook launch at Click! Design That Fits http://westseattleblog.com/2017/05/happening-now-kim-odonnels-cookbook-launch-at-click-design-that-fits/ Fri, 12 May 2017 03:26:50 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=882574

Still some time to get over to Click! Design That Fits (WSB sponsor) in The Junction to meet West Seattle-residing, nationally acclaimed cookbook author and food educator Kim O’Donnel. Her newest book “PNW Veg” has just been published; she calls it her “edible love letter to the Pacific Northwest,” where she has lived for nine years. If you know that this is O’Donnel’s third book of vegetarian recipes – after “Meat Lover’s Meatless Celebrations” (2012) and “Meat Lover’s Meatless Cookbook” (2010) – you might guess she’s vegetarian. But you’d be wrong; she’s just living a “less meat” lifestyle. Until 9 pm, she’s at Click! (4540 California SW) signing books and offering tastes of highlights from “PNW Veg,” including desserts and potato/onion/stinging-nettle frittata as well as black bean and beet burgers.

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National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes reading in West Seattle on Wednesday http://westseattleblog.com/2017/04/national-book-award-winner-terrance-hayes-reading-in-west-seattle-on-wednesday/ Mon, 17 Apr 2017 21:20:27 +0000 http://westseattleblog.com/?p=880272

“It’s hard to think of an accolade that he doesn’t have.” That’s what Susan Rich, one of the curators of the monthly WordsWest Literary Series presentations, says about National Book Award-winning poet Terrance Hayes, who will be featured at WW this Wednesday night. Hayes and Jane Wong, a former student of his who also is an award-winning poet, headline “A National Poetry Month Celebration” at C & P Coffee Company (5612 California SW; WSB sponsor), 7 pm Wednesday (April 19th). The WW announcement (see it in full here) says they will “read their work as a ‘living anthology’ — a distinctive WordsWest reading format that weaves the ideas and images of each poet’s work into a never-to-be-duplicated collaboration of echoes and connections. No admission charge (you can support the volunteer-run series here) – so get there early enough to ensure yourself a seat!

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