Tuesday, February 28, 2006

OUT WITH THE OLD: And in with the new. Midge Farmer sends word that the info I’ve been listing for the WYOPoets April 22 workshop is old. Well, I like to be up-to-date on all things (especially Wyoming Poetry Month events), so here’s the right stuff: WYOPoets' annual workshop, "Weeds and Wild Roses--The Words We Share", will be Saturday, April 22 at the Northern Wyoming Community College Gillette campus. Robert Roripaugh, retired UW prof and Wyoming poet laureate emeritus, will be the presenter. The day will begin with registration at 8:30 a.m., introductions at 9, and then proceed through the day with three work sessions until 3 p.m. Lunch is included. Registrations postmarked on or before March 15 are $25 and those participants can enclose one poem with registration for critique by Robert. Registrations at the door will be $30. FMI: Connie Brewer, 682-9724, cbrewer@vcn.com or Midge Farmer, 682-3488, pmfarmer@vcn.com. Find a pdf file of the registration form at the Wyoming Writers, Inc., site.

Monday, February 27, 2006
STUDY SAYS LIT BOOSTS JOB SKILLS, CIVIC ENGAGEMENT: Reading and Writing were among the topics discussed at the National Governors Association (NGA) Winter Meeting Feb. 25-28 in D.C. They didn’t receive the attention afforded health care (too little), National Guard deployments (too many), and hurricane disaster response (too late). But two of the “three Rs” did get some play due to an “issue brief” issued Feb. 24 entitled “State Efforts to Promote Reading and Literary Activities in Communities.” It was compiled by the NGA, the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA).

It makes this very strong statement: “Reading and literary activities activities are important to states for two primary reasons. Strong reading habits enhance skills required in the 21st-century workplace, such as high literacy and analytical thinking. An increasingly competitive economy demands a highly literate workforce, and according to many sources, the U.S. workforce is not prepared. In addition, literary readers have been shown to be more likely than nonreaders to pursue social and civic activities such as volunteering and attending sporting events. Therefore, literary reading may enhance community life and civic engagement.”

It includes stats and anecdotes about programs in various states. Both the Wyoming Arts Council’s literary fellowships and the Wyoming Council for the Humanities’ (WCH) “Humanities at Work” are mentioned, along with several other multi-state projects in which Wyoming participates. The WESTAF-sponsored Tumblewords Audience Development Project is one of these. It was great to read about the two lit history maps Wyoming has produced, but the Wyoming Center for the Book’s anthology and map project, “Deep West: A Literary Tour of Wyoming,” got nary a mention. The report looked at programs in surrounding states, including The Great Salt Lake Book Festival, the Log Cabin Literary Center in Boise, and the South Dakota Arts Council’s “Solo Artists in Libraries” project.

and WCH and WCFB and writers and poets and teachers have touted the benefits of “reading and literary activities” for years. It’s good to have it proclaimed from the NGA pulpit, with Govs, the Prez, and other leaders participating. Read the entire report by clicking on the pdf file at the NGA site.
Sunday, February 26, 2006

GET INTO THE CULTURAL GUIDE: The 2006 Wyoming Cultural Guide, sponsored by the Travel and Tourism Office, is now accepting listings for the new publication to be printed in May. Artists, writers, and performers can purchase a business listing for $55. The Guide is distributed internationally. Deadline is March 31. FMI: Wendi Robirds, Vision West in Powell, 888-239-9828.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

ONE CITY/ONE BOOK FEATURES STEGNER: Barnes & Noble Booksellers in Cheyenne is promoting a "One Book/One City" program. From March 1-May 31, Cheyennites will be reading Wallace Stegner’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel “Angle of Repose.” When the Penguin Classics paperback was released in 2000, a critic in the Los Angeles Times said: “Brilliant...Two stories, past and present, merge to produce what important fiction must: a sense of the enhancement of life.” B&N has displays featuring the 1992 Penguin edition. You can buy the book at City News downtown or at Waldenbooks in the mall. The Laramie County Public Library has ordered additional copies. Jason Cooper at B&N, the guy behind the project, says that the store will hold book discussions in May. No firm dates have been set. If you have questions, call Jason at 307-632-3000.

Friday, February 24, 2006
PRONGHORN PROMOTES RIPE TOMATOES: As March approaches, gardeners’ thoughts turn to seeds and bulbs and compost piles and…. Well, you get the picture. Those of us in WYO and other high-altitude areas of the West should check out books by Cody’s Cheryl Anderson Wright at Pronghorn Press in Greybull. They are “High Country Herbs,” “High Country Veggies,” and “The High Country Tomato Handbook” subtitled: “Including How to Grow Ripe Tomatoes by the Fourth of July.” This claim has caused a stir across the Cheyenne area, as tomatoes ripen slowly at 6,100 feet and rarely by July Fourth. Many of us are plucking unripe Early Girls or drought-resistant Mortgage Lifters late at night in mid-September as freeze warnings are issued. Of course, the tomatoes first have to survive those surprise June hailstorms. Ominous cloud formations over the Laramie Range cause Cheyenne gardeners to rush home to move their container plants to shelter or to make sure the industrial-strength anti-hail screen is securely in place over blooming plants. I’ve seen my neighbor in his yard unrolling an additional layer of wire screen while hail the size of golf balls caromed off his surplus World War II helmet. Homeland Security could learn a few things from high country gardeners. Be prepared! Get Cheryl’s guides at your local bookstore.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

THE POWER OF WWP: UW grad and Chugwater High School teacher Carrie Langston knows the value of the Wyoming Writing Project (WWP). Carrie, teacher-leader with the WWP (sponsored by the UW Department of English), first became involved with the program 20 years ago when she participated in a National Writing Project summer institute. She recently traveled to D.C. to participate in a roundtable discussion of the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions. "The National Writing Project provides me with a key tool -- a network of teachers across the country with whom I can collaborate on a variety of projects," says Langston. "I am proud to be one of the 100,000 teachers a year who are 'in the trenches,' working daily to bring not only literacy, but the application of higher-level thinking skills to students and to my colleagues who teach social studies, math, science, business, foreign language, and special education."

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

TRIBUTE TONIGHT FOR KEN BREWER: Utah Poet Laureate Ken Brewer has cancer, and these days rarely gets out of bed and receives very few visitors, according to Guy Lebeda at the Utah Arts Council. The City Art Reading Series and the Utah Arts Council's Literature Program will hold a "Tribute Reading" in honor of Ken at the Salt Lake City Main Library on Wednesday, February 22, 7 p.m. Participating Utah poets & writers include Hector Ahumada, Sandy Anderson, Alex Caldiero, Chris Colinos, Katie Coles, Klancy deNevers, Diane Fouts, Joel Long, Nancy Takacs, Susan Sample, Ken Sanders, and Michael Sowder. Wyolitmail and the Wyoming Arts Council joins readers and writers across the state in sending love and support to Ken and his family. Ken is stepfather to Jennifer Sorensen, English professor at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs. She sends this message: “The family is collecting all of the email Ken receives, and reading them has given him pleasure during the last few months of his life. He continues to write poetry every day.” Send messages and greetings to me and I’ll forward them to Ken.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

SHEPARD SYMPOSIUM EVENTS ANNOUNCED: The tenth annual Shepard Symposium on Social Justice, “Investing in Social Justice: Making the Invisible Visible,” will take place March 29-31 at UW in Laramie. David Shipler will deliver the keynote address at 7 p.m. on Thursday, March 30, in the A&S Auditorium. He’s the author of “The Working Poor: Invisible in America” and “Arab and Jew: Wounded Spirits in the Promised Land” (winner of a Pulitzer Prize). Other events include “Naked Words: Hip Hop ReVoLution” an “adolescent artist showcase of music, poetry, hip hop, break-dancing, graffiti art, and an invitation only single-round slam, from 6:30-10 p.m. on Tuesday, March 28, in the Union Gardens; and a concert by Holly Near at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, March 29, in the Union Ballroom; and a performance of the Diane Wolverton/Kayne Pyatt play, “Bring Back My Body to Me,” on Friday, March 31. FMI: Adrienne Zeller, UW Conferences & Institutes, 1-877-733-3618, ext. 1, azeller@uwyo.edu.

Monday, February 20, 2006

OWR BLOOMS IN THE SPRING: The 2006 Owen Wister Review, the University of Wyoming’s full-color arts and literary magazine, will hit the stands in April, according to Editor Joan Bolander. Thus far, I know of three writers from WYO who will be in this issue: Myra Peak, Green River, with her short story, "The Terminal", from a novel in progress; me, with a new short story, “Call Me Robert;” and Val Pexton and Chavawn Kelley, both of Laramie. Joan is scheduling an OWR 2006 publication party for April in Laramie. FMI: OWR at 307-766-3819.

Friday, February 17, 2006

WESSWICK SERIES FEATURES HIX: Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs will be hosting a poetry reading by H.L. Hix, at 7:30 p.m. Friday Feb. 24, as the second in a four-part series of visiting writers, "Friday Night Live" this spring. Hix teaches in and directs the creative writing program at the University of Wyoming, and has published many books of poetry and literary criticism. His newest collection is "Shadows of Houses." This program is free and open to the public, and is sponsored by the Wesswick Lecture Series and the WWCC English Dept. It is offered in conjunction with a creative writing workshop at WWCC. FMI: Barbara Smith, WWCC, 307-382-1726 or bsmith@wwcc.wy.edu.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

SEARCHING FOR THE RIGHT "BRAND:" Westerners are familiar with the word “brand” and its many permutations. Thoughts turn to branding irons and springtime’s smell of sizzling cowhide. Each ranch has a distinctive imprint, and some Laramie County brands can be seen on the Lions Park walkway between Cheyenne’s Botanic Gardens and the Old West Museum. In Ivan Doig’s novel “Mountain Time,” Lyle Rozier in Twin Sulphur Springs, Mont., boasts a shed full of branding irons he plans to sell to Yuppie ranchette owners moving into the area. One of his many New West get-rich-quick schemes that fall through.

Writers have had it up to here with the word “brand.” All of us are supposed to have that or a “platform” in order to sell books to NYC commercial publishers. It’s O.K. to write a fine book, but you need some quirky background to go with it. Rehabilitated ex-con is a pretty good brand and quite a selling point. Celebrityhood is the perfect brand, as evidenced by all the new children’s books by
Hollywood types and NBA stars. Let’s face it, you need a brand to sell scads of books.

On the PR front, states need brands to sell themselves to travelers. Utah is looking for a new brand. Its current official slogan is “Utah! Where Ideas Connect.” It was unveiled by former Governor Mile Leavitt before he decamped to D.C. A recent wire service story said that the slogan proved unwieldy and isn’t being used. A new brand is needed, and the state has $10 million in tourism promotion money to pay for it. Salt Lake City advertising agency W Communications is on the job. Its president, Mark Hurst, said it should reveal “the look of Utah,” “the soul of Utah,” and “the sound of Utah,” all composing the “emotional core of Utah.”

Any of you wyolitmailers want to suggest a phrase that might reveal Utah’s emotional core?

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

WOLVERTON PLAY DEBUTS FEB. 24: Laramie author Diane Wolverton’s first play, “Bring Back My Body to Me,” will be presented in Laramie at the Herb House, at 214 South 2nd St., on Friday, Feb. 24 at 7 p.m. The play is “a two-woman, four-act exploration of the contemporary issues of sexuality, body image, gender roles and relationship.” Wolverton will perform the play with her collaborator, Kayne Pyatt of Rock Springs. Says Wolverton: “It is a very interactive production. The audience will laugh, sing and maybe even gasp, because the characters offer a very candid and uncensored look at the female experience. We want to give voice to some of the things women feel and know in their hearts, but don’t dare say out loud.” A book signing will follow the play. Admission is free, but donations will be accepted. Contact the Herb House at 307-742-9696.

Monday, February 13, 2006

CALL FOR ROSTER ARTISTS: It’s time to apply for the Wyoming Arts Council Artist Rosters. This annual process was on hiatus last year as we took time out to reevaluate the program, including the application process. One major change: you can apply in the categories of Tumblewords and/or Arts Across Wyoming but not in Arts In Education (AIE). WAC no longer will have an AIE roster (this also shortens the application). Another change: All artists must apply this year, including those already on the roster. A nuisance, I know, but the approval process has been changed and, in the interest of fair play, everyone needs to meet the same standards. However, once you’re on the roster, you only have to reapply every five years. And, for the first time, folk artists will be able to apply in their own category. The applications were mailed Feb. 10. If you’re a WYO artist and don’t receive one by the end of the month, please e-mail me and I’ll put one in the mail. Postmark deadline is April 15.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

TATTERED COVER TO MOVE THIS SUMMER: I’ve been prowling the Tattered Cover Book Store in Denver since 1978. One of the country’s best indie stores was six years old then, operating out of a storefront in the Cherry Creek Shopping District before the area boomed in the 1980s. New books were on the ground floor, used books upstairs. I always found something I thought I needed. If I didn’t, I just asked one of the employees and since they were diehard book people, they usually found it. Remember, this was way before Google. The TC then moved down the street (assisted by loyal customers), and then took over a four-story building abandoned by a department store. It expanded but still retained its indie outlook and a serious reader could find obscure magazines and books and lounge around reading in a stuffed chair or even on the floor. Nobody seemed to mind. TC expanded, with stores in Denver’s LoDo and out in the burbs. Lately, though, Cherry Creek has gone ultra chi-chi, with more shoppers looking for designer shoes than books, and then there are those competing chain stores all over the metro area. TC founder and guru Joyce Meskis notes that increased costs have forced the store to move when its lease expires. Fortunately, that move (tentatively scheduled for late June) will be to the renovated historic Lowenstein Theatre on East Colfax, right across from East High where my father played trombone in the school band. Joyce says that TC will continue to look for a small satellite location in the Cherry Creek area. "We’d love to be able to have a presence in Cherry Creek. We’ll have to see how the story evolves.” The new space will feature a newsstand, coffee shop, author event space, and free parking, says the TC web site. Its neighbors will include a Twist & Shout music store and other tenants.

Saturday, February 11, 2006
ROMTVEDT READS TO WYO LEGISLATURE: Wyoming Poet Laureate David Romtvedt will read from his work in the Wyoming Senate and House chambers in Cheyenne on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2 p.m. The public, of course, is invited to watch our elected officials at work and then stay for some poetry. David will stick around to perform at the Governor’s Arts Awards celebration at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 17, at Little America. You can reserve tickets through Feb. 13 by calling the WAC at 307-777-7742.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The Tuesday Night Book Club, co-sponsored by the Laramie County Public Library and Starbucks, meets on the third Tuesday of each month at Starbucks, 3610 Dell Range Blvd., Cheyenne. Adults and teens are welcome to join the discussion of Zora Neale Hurston's classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 21. FMI: Troy at 635-1032, ext. 123.

Thursday, February 09, 2006
SPRAGG FEATURED AT AZBOOKFEST: Wyoming writer Mark Spragg will be a featured presenter at the Arizona Book Festival at the Carnegie Center in Phoenix April 1. The Arizona State Library selected Mark’s novel “An Unfinished Life” for its 2006 “OneBookAZ” project. The Arizona Book Festival offers a full day of literary activities with more than 200 writers, including Rick Moody, Jodi Picoult, Jim Fergus, L.E. Modesitt, Richard and Lois Shelton, Polly Horvath (OneBookAZ for Children author), Cynthia Kadohata, and many others. EDITOR'S NOTE: Mark has agreed to be one of the featured presenters at the Equality State Book Festival Oct. 19-21 in Casper, Wyo.
Wednesday, February 08, 2006

CSPAN TO COVER CHEYENNE BOOK EVENT: A presentation on the life of one of Wyoming’s most influential political figures, Nellie Tayloe Ross, by Colorado author Teva Scheer will be held at the Wyoming State Museum, Feb. 15, at 7 p.m. The presentation will be followed by a book signing by Scheer of her new book, “Governor Lady: The Life and Times of Nellie Tayloe Ross.” Scheer teaches at the Graduate School of Public Affairs, at the University of Colorado at Denver. Representatives from the cable television network CSPAN (Book TV) are expected to be on hand to cover the event. The museum is located in the Barrett Building, 2301 Central Ave., Cheyenne. For more info about the book, call Beth Miller, State Museum Store, at 307-777-5320.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006
WRITE AT THE TOWER: Bearlodge Writers and Devils Tower National Monument announce the 2006 Writer's Residency. Two one-week residencies are available at the monument in September and October. Selected individuals will be offered modest housing plus a $100 travel stipend provided by the Devils Tower Natural History Association. The goal of this residency “is to provide an inspiring, secluded working environment for promising writers.” Interested writers should submit writing samples to Christine Czazasty, Chief of Interpretation, Devils Tower National Monument, P.O. Box 10, Devils Tower, WY 82714. Entries must be postmarked by April 1. Find complete guidelines here.
Sunday, February 05, 2006

CHOCO-LIT EVENT IN GREYBULL: This comes from Pronghorn Press: Are you interested in 18th-century France? Love, loss, or past lives? Have you read Annette Chaudet's novel BEYOND THE WORLD and want to find out more? Please join Annette for a discussion at the Greybull Library, 325 Greybull Avenue, on Thursday, February 16, at 7 p.m. Refreshments will be served (and chocolate will be involved!) Visit the Pronghorn Press web site for more information about Chaudet’s book. For library info, call 307-765-2551.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

“BONES” MARKS 20TH YEAR: I’m one among many who have used Natalie Goldberg’s “Writing Down the Bones” to teach classes and workshops. It’s also a book I turn to for inspiration. Now, the 20th anniversary edition of “Bones” is out from Shambhala Publications. According to a press release, “it includes a new preface by the author and a strong interview that reflects on the relationship of sitting practice and writing, the importance of place, power of memory, and the nature of confidence.” Find it at your local bookstore or through Shambala.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

WYO-AUDIOBOOKS WANTED: Some WYO writers have had their books transformed into audiobooks (CD and/or cassette). On trips across the state, I’ve listened to Annie’s Proulx’s “Close Range: Wyoming Stories” and Mark Spragg’s “An Unfinished Life.” Last week, Lynn Lemp on the State of WYO Motor Pool asked me for some names of WYO writers who might have audiobooks, since she wants to purchase some to be checked out by State of WYO travelers. I assembled a list which probably includes names that don’t have books on tape or CD. Anyway, take a look at my suggestions and check them for accuracy. If I’ve left you out, please let me know via e-mail or provide a comment below.

Here’s the list: Mystery writers: C.J. “Chuck” Box, Craig Johnson (title "The Cold Dish"), Gregory Bean (lives in N.J. but from WYO and books set in WYO), Margaret Coel (lives in Colo. but all her mysteries are set on our Wind River Reservation), Sarah Andrews (now lives in Calif. but went to UW and worked as a geologist in WYO; her first book is "Ten Sleep”), Clinton McKinzie (went to UW Law School, lives in Colo., one title is "Edge of Justice"). Fiction writers: Annie Proulx (of "Brokeback Mountain" fame), Mark Spragg (lives in Cody, book "An Unfinished Life" just made into a film), Michael and Kathleen O'Neal Gear, Thermopolis, written lots of novels together and separately; Warren Adler, Tim Sandlin, Gerry Spence, Deborah Bedford, Theodore "Ted" Judson, Alyson Hagy, Michael Punke, John D. Nesbitt, Eugene Gagliano (children's), Jon Billman (now lives in Iowa). Non-fiction writers: Mark Jenkins, James Galvin, Linda Hasselstrom, Alexandra Fuller, Gretel Ehrlich ("The Solace of Open Spaces"), Jeffe Kennedy. Poetry: WYO Poet Laureate David Romtvedt may have something out in audiobook form. His band, The Fireants, has recorded music CDs.

What other writers with WYO ties have audiobooks?

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