West Seattle books – West Seattle Blog… https://westseattleblog.com West Seattle news, 24/7 Wed, 15 Aug 2018 14:00:46 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.8 THURSDAY: SoundYoga’s Chris Dormaier at ‘Words, Writers, West Seattle’ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/07/thursday-soundyogas-chris-dormaier-at-words-writers-west-seattle/ Tue, 10 Jul 2018 17:01:55 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=921945 “Why Yoga Works and How It Can Work for You” is the title of a new book by someone who knows firsthand – Chris Dormaier, founder of SoundYoga (WSB sponsor). She’ll be reading from it during the next Words, Writers, West Seattle event, this Thursday night (July 12th), 6-7:30 pm at Southwest Library (9010 35th SW). The author series is co-presented by the Southwest Seattle Historical Society and Seattle Public Library. This year, as we noted back in February, SoundYoga’s celebrating 20 years!

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SUMMER READING! WordsWest Literary Series promises ‘magical evening’ for young readers and their families Wednesday https://westseattleblog.com/2018/06/summer-reading-wordswest-literary-series-promises-magical-evening-for-young-readers-and-their-families-wednesday/ Wed, 20 Jun 2018 02:56:19 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=920068

Tomorrow night, the monthly WordsWest Literary Series event at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) has a special start time and a special theme – it’s the annual summer-reading event with a focus on kids, starting at 6 pm, featuring authors Suzanne Selfors and Dana Simpson. Here’s the announcement:

Kick off school’s end and the start of summer reading season with acclaimed authors Suzanne Selfors and Dana Simpson in a magical evening for kids and the adults they bring with them.

Suzanne Selfors is a national best-selling author who writes for kids of all ages. She’s received five Junior Library Guild awards and earned starred reviews from Kirkus, School Library Journal, Library Media Connection and Publisher’s Weekly. The Sasquatch Escape won the WA State Book Award and was an Amazon Best Children’s Book. Suzanne’s most recent books are Wedgie and Gizmo vs. the Toof (2018) from Harper Collins/Katherine Tegan Publishers and Spirit Riding Free: Lucky and the Mustangs of Miradero (2017) from DreamWorks/Little Brown. The animated series, Spirit Riding Free, is on Netflix. Though her books can be found all over the world, Suzanne lives on an island in the Pacific Northwest where she hopes it is her destiny to write stories forever after.

Dana Claire Simpson, a native of Gig Harbor, first caught the eyes of devoted comics readers with the internet strip Ozy and Millie. After winning the 2009 Comic Strip Superstar contest, she developed the strip Phoebe and Her Unicorn (originally known as Heavenly Nostrils), which is now syndicated in over 200 newspapers worldwide. There are five book collections: Phoebe and Her Unicorn, Unicorn on a Roll, Unicorn vs. Goblins, Razzle Dazzle Unicorn, and Unicorn Crossing, and a graphic novel, The Magic Storm. Simpson’s books have appeared on the New York Times bestseller list, and have won the Washington State Book Award and the Pacific Northwest Book Award. She lives with her husband and her cat in Santa Barbara, California.

The Favorite Poem Project, a vital part of WordsWest’s monthly literary events, invites a community member to share a favorite poem and information about his or her organization. On June 20, we welcome the Summer Reading Table and a favorite poem read by Jenny Cole from indie bookstore Page 2 Books.

WordsWest is curated by West Seattle writers Katy E. Ellis, Susan Rich, and Harold Taw, and this season’s intern/co-curator is Joannie Stangeland. Grant funding from Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and Poets & Writers, Inc. allows WordsWest to pay featured writers for their time and talent.

No admission charge, though – everybody’s welcome!

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WORDSWEST ON WEDNESDAY: Celebrate National Poetry Month with Aimee Nezhukumatathil and Susan Rich https://westseattleblog.com/2018/04/wordswest-on-wednesday-celebrate-national-poetry-month-with-aimee-nezhukumatathil-and-susan-rich/ Sun, 15 Apr 2018 17:56:23 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=914018

The two featured writers at this month’s WordsWest Literary Series event, 7 pm Wednesday (April 18th) at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor), include one of the series’s co-curators. Here’s the preview of who you’ll see and hear:

Poets Aimee Nezhukumatathil (above left) and Susan Rich (above right) celebrate National Poetry Month with poems that revel in the world’s mysteries, from the vast to the minute, from nature to art, from curiosities to companionship.

Aimee Nezhukumatathil’s newest collection of poems is Oceanic from Copper Canyon Press. She is also the author of the forthcoming book of illustrated nature essays, World of Wonder, and three previous poetry collections. Her most recent chapbook is Lace & Pyrite, a collaboration of nature poems with the poet Ross Gay. Aimee is the poetry editor of Orion magazine and a professor of English in the University of Mississippi’s MFA program.

Susan Rich is the author of four poetry collections: Cloud Pharmacy, The Alchemist’s Kitchen, named a finalist for the Foreword Prize and the Washington State Book Award, Cures Include Travel, and The Cartographer’s Tongue, winner of the PEN USA Award for Poetry and the Peace Corps Writers Award. Susan teaches at Highline College, where she runs the reading series, Highline Listens: Writers Read Their Work.

The Favorite Poem Project, a vital part of WordsWest’s monthly literary events, invites a community member to share a favorite poem and information about his or her organization. On April 18th, we welcome a favorite poem from Billie Swift, owner of Open Books: A Poem Emporium.

WordsWest is curated by West Seattle writers Katy E. Ellis, Susan Rich, and Harold Taw, and this season’s intern/co-curator is Joannie Stangeland. Grant funding from Seattle Office of Arts and Culture and Poets & Writers, Inc. allows WordsWest to pay featured writers for their time and talent.

We spotlighted the series curators last September, before the current season of presentations began.

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YOU CAN HELP RIGHT NOW! West Seattle Food Bank needs kids’ books https://westseattleblog.com/2018/04/you-can-help-right-now-west-seattle-food-bank-needs-kids-books/ Fri, 06 Apr 2018 16:56:29 +0000 https://westseattleblog.com/?p=913303 Got kids’ books you no longer need? Give them a new home! Just in, from Judi Yazzolino at the West Seattle Food Bank:

The West Seattle Food Bank’s Bookcase Program is in desperate need of children’s books and board books. Our Bookcase Program accepts slightly used or new donated books to encourage those children we serve start reading at an early age.

We accept donations Monday – Friday 9 am – 3 pm or Wednesday until 7 pm at our facility at 3419 SW Morgan St. on the corner of 35th & Morgan.

There’s a parking garage right off the south side of Morgan, and you can enter the Food Bank there or from the corner.

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From ‘MacArthur Park’ to Pulitzer Prize: Colson Whitehead visits West Seattle High School https://westseattleblog.com/2018/02/from-macarthurs-park-to-pulitzer-prize-colson-whitehead-visits-west-seattle-high-school/ https://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 https://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 https://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/what-award-winning-writer-jesmyn-ward-told-chief-sealth-ihs-students/ https://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/what-award-winning-writer-jesmyn-ward-told-chief-sealth-ihs-students/#comments Thu, 18 Jan 2018 02:42:42 +0000 https://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 https://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/wednesday-nancy-pearl-susan-landgraf-at-wordswest-literary-series/ Tue, 16 Jan 2018 19:43:03 +0000 https://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 https://westseattleblog.com/2018/01/new-year-new-location-words-writers-west-seattle-moves/ Wed, 03 Jan 2018 17:13:37 +0000 https://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 https://westseattleblog.com/2017/12/biznote-merryweather-books-in-the-junction-says-its-closing/ https://westseattleblog.com/2017/12/biznote-merryweather-books-in-the-junction-says-its-closing/#comments Sat, 02 Dec 2017 22:45:06 +0000 https://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 https://westseattleblog.com/2017/11/got-books-west-seattle-food-bank-has-people-who-need-them/ https://westseattleblog.com/2017/11/got-books-west-seattle-food-bank-has-people-who-need-them/#comments Thu, 30 Nov 2017 22:18:45 +0000 https://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 https://westseattleblog.com/2017/11/at-the-libraries-peak-picks-program-goes-system-wide-today/ https://westseattleblog.com/2017/11/at-the-libraries-peak-picks-program-goes-system-wide-today/#comments Mon, 20 Nov 2017 23:07:29 +0000 https://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 https://westseattleblog.com/2017/09/girl-scouts-create-install-west-seattles-newest-little-free-library/ https://westseattleblog.com/2017/09/girl-scouts-create-install-west-seattles-newest-little-free-library/#comments Wed, 27 Sep 2017 21:02:52 +0000 https://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 https://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 https://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 https://westseattleblog.com/2017/09/west-seattle-scene-author-lyanda-lynn-haupts-hometown-reading/ https://westseattleblog.com/2017/09/west-seattle-scene-author-lyanda-lynn-haupts-hometown-reading/#comments Sat, 09 Sep 2017 02:45:54 +0000 https://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 https://westseattleblog.com/2017/08/happening-now-first-of-4-west-seattle-events-for-park-guidebook-author-linnea-westerlind/ https://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 https://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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