Tuesday, January 30, 2007
Tennessee Williams’ “Cat” Comes to the Rock

The Actors’ Mission in Rock Springs has chosen “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof” by Tennessee Williams as its next production. Performances are set for March 2, 3, 9, and 10 at 6 p.m. in the Elk's Lodge, 307 C St. Performances are free, and a cash bar operated through the Elks will be open for the Saturday performances. For more info, contact the Actors’ Mission at 307-382-5377 and ask for Mike Jeffery, who’s the theatre’s secretary, stage manager, house manager, and occasionally fills in as an actor.

Williams must have worked 24 hours a day. He wrote 80 plays, three novels, two poetry collections, and six collections of short stories. The 21st annual Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival will be held March 28-April 1. As a young man, Williams lived in New Orleans and worked for the WPA Writers' Project.

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Monday, January 29, 2007
"Big Read" Reads Willa; Looks for Local Partners

From the Wyoming State Library’s Outrider newsletter: In response to a decline in literary reading, the National Endowment for the Arts has established its Big Read grant program, designed as a community-wide reading and discussion of a single classic novel. The Wyoming Center for the Book in Cheyenne is putting together a grant proposal in April 2007 for a Big Read of Willa Cather's My Antonia to kick off at September's Wyoming Book Festival. The Center is seeking local partners interested in participating. If the application is successful, the Center will provide grant administration, promotion, programming support and materials, and free or reduced-price copies of the book. Local partners are asked to hold book discussions, promote the Big Read locally, report back to the Center on local activities, provide non-federal cash and/or in-kind match, and provide a letter of support stating that commitment. FMI: Susan Vittitow, WCFB coordinator, 307-777-5915.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007
Line-up Announced for Jackson Writers Conference

The 15th annual Jackson Hole Writers Conference will be held June 28-July 1 in Jackson. Special tracks for this year include travel and outdoor writing, with featured speaker Daniel Glick, young adult fiction with Todd Strasser, and a teachers’ track with Lee Zacharias. An array of other fiction and nonfiction writers will talk about their work. They include Tiffanie DeBartolo, Terry Tempest Williams, and William Haywood Henderson.

Attendees can discuss their work through individual manuscript critiques with local writers (including Tina Welling and John Byrne Cooke) and these New York agents and editors: Katherine Ives, Alpinist Magazine; Amanda Murray, Simon & Schuster; Zoe Pagnamenta, PFD; Rebecca Friedman, Sterling Lord Literistic; and Karen Marcus, Doubleday.

JHWC offers a special offer for parents of teens interested in writing. Register and bring your teen (or teens) for half-price. Full registration info will be available soon at the conference web site.

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Friday, January 26, 2007
Award-winning author and wilderness advocate Terry Tempest Williams will read from her recent book, set in Rwanda, Friday, Feb. 2, at the University of Wyoming. The free public reading will begin at 5:30 p.m. in UW's College of Education auditorium. The University Bookstore will offer specially priced books at the reception to follow. A Utah native who recently relocated to Jackson, Williams is a candidate for the inaugural Eminent Writer-in-Residence position with UW's M.F.A. program in creative writing.

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Hot Springs State Park Site for Wyoming Writers Inc. Conference

An internationally-renowned (and Wyoming-based) husband-wife writing duo, Montana’s poet laureate, and the Jackson novelist whom the New York Times Book Review recognized as the writer who “brilliantly and knowingly captures the spirit of the Wyoming wilderness."

Michael and Kathleen Gear of Thermopolis, Sandra Alcosser of Florence, Montana, and Tim Sandlin of Jackson are the authors who will highlight the 33rd annual conference for Wyoming Writers, Inc., June 1-3 in Thermopolis.They will lead panels and critique manuscripts during the course of the three-day event.

Joining them is children’s writer Dr. Toran Isom. She has been a professor at University of Arkansas-Little Rock for 17 years and teaches “Nonfiction Writing for Children” and other courses. John Helfers, acquiring editor for Tekno Books, will attend to talk about the world of publishing. A book packager, Tekno Books creates and sells fiction and nonfiction manuscripts to publishers.

Conference hotel is the Holiday Inn of the Waters located just inside the entrance of Hot Springs State Park. The hotel is offering a conference rate of $89 per night.

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Sunday, January 21, 2007
Last call for Wyoming Writers, Inc., Contest

The postmark deadline for the Wyoming Writers, Inc., annual writing contest is Jan. 31!

You may enter in the following five categories: Adult Fiction, Adult Non-fiction, Fiction Written for Children, Free Verse and Traditional Poetry. You may enter more than one piece.

Each entry should be accompanied by a $10 fee for members and $15 per entry for non-members. Again, there is no limit to the number of entries. One check may be written for all the fees; however, no fees will be refunded unless there are fewer than nine entries in any category. Each entry must be accompanied by an Affidavit of Authorship (available from the Contest Chair) and a cover sheet. All work must be unpublished and not previously submitted for publication. All work must be in English and must be the original work of the author. Word limit is 3,500 words for prose and 40 lines for poems. Critiques are available for an additional $10 fee apiece.

Entries should be mailed to Myra Mumma, Wyoming Writers, Inc. Contest Chair, 1610 Big Flat Rd., Missoula, MT 59804-9222.

FMI: Myra Mumma at rym528@yahoo.com.

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Saturday, January 20, 2007
"Jentel Presents" Feb. 6

The Jentel Artist Residency Program in Banner features a "Jentel Presents" event open to the public at Davis Gallery, 38 South Main, Sheridan, on Tuesday, February 6, from 5:30-7 p.m. "Jentel Presents" is a community outreach program that features presentations and readings by the visual artists and writers at the residency.

Presenters include:

Jon Taylor, New Bedford, Mass. Jon is a multimedia artist using aspects of architecture, fashion, sculpture and urban farming to critique oddities of human behavior. His recent research includes gastro economics, biotechnical skinterface, alimentation and indentured hyper promotional colonization

Ann Joslin Williams, San Francisco. Ann’s collection of linked stories, The Woman in the Woods, won the Spokane (Wash.) Prize for short fiction. A former Wallace Stegner Fellow, she teaches at the California College of the Arts

Ricardo Wilson, Los Angeles. Ricardo is an L.A. native who has traveled to Panama and Jamaica to write and conduct research for his first novel, The Death of Sam Brown.

FMI: Lynn Reeves, 307-737-2311, jentel@jentelarts.org

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007
Terry Tempest Williams at WWCC Jan. 25

The Arlene and Louise Wesswick Lecture Series in the Humanities and Education at Western Wyoming Community College in Rock Springs presents “An Evening with Terry Tempest Williams” on Thursday, Jan. 25, 7:30 p.m., in the college theatre. Terry will read from new work and from those books, such as Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place, which are familiar to her readers. The reading is free and open to the public. A book signing and reception will follow.

Terry believes that landscape shapes culture: “I write through my biases of gender, geography, and culture. I am a woman whose ideas have been shaped by the Great Basic and Colorado Plateau, these ideas are then filtered through the prism of my culture and my culture is Mormon. The tenets of family and community which I see at the heart of that culture are then articulated through story.”

Her other works include Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert, Pieces of White Shell: A Journey to Navajoland, Coyote’s Canyon, Desert Quartet, Leap, An Unspoken Hunger, and The Open Space of Democracy.

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Wanted: Big Horn Basin Artists

I’m traveling to three sites in the Big Horn Basin next week – Jan. 22-24 – for grants training sessions. Here’s a special invitation for you creative types to come out and see a demonstration of the Wyoming Arts Council’s new on-line granting system. It’s also an opportunity for me to talk with performers and visual artists, people I’ll be working with now that I’m supervising fellowships and IAPD grants in the performing arts and visual arts categories, along with my ongoing responsibilities in literature. I’d also like to hear your ideas on what kind of programs for individual artists you’d like to see at the WAC.

Here’s the Big Horn Basin schedule:

Cody, Northwest College Cody Center, Room CC2208, 1501 Stampede Ave., Monday, Jan. 22, 7-8:30 p.m. Contact: Nancy Gilmore, 587-3376
Thermopolis, Hot Springs County High School, 331 Park, Tuesday, Jan. 23, 4-6 p.m. Contact: Eric Kay, 864-6511
Worland, Worland Community Center, 1200 Culbertson Ave., Tuesday, Jan. 23, 7-9 p.m. Contact: Steve Hunt, 347-8616

Grants training sessions are for individual artists and representatives from schools, arts groups, and community organizations. No need for advance registration. Just show up and I’ll take it from there.

For more info, e-mail me or call 307-777-5234.

See you in The Basin. By the way, Billings Gazette reporter Ruffin Prevost in Cody writes a cool blog about happenings in the Big Horn Basin. Go to Basin Beat Blues.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007
Kevin Holdsworth of Rock Springs will read from his new book, Big Wonderful: Notes from Wyoming, on Friday February 2, 7 p.m. at Second Story Books in downtown Laramie and on Saturday, February 3, 2 p.m., as part of the Rocky Mountain Land Series at the Tattered Cover Bookstore, 1628 16th Street at Wynkoop in Lower Downtown (LoDo) Denver. Big Wonderful was released Nov. 30 by University Press of Colorado (ISBN: 0870818465, hardcover, $26.95).

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Monday, January 15, 2007
Fremont Libraries Get LIFT

I’m not sure how many Carnegie libraries remain in the state. I know of two: Lusk and Lander. I know that Cheyenne demolished its Carnegie Library way back when. Other Wyoming towns did too.

I’ve been to the Niobrara County Library in Lusk several times. It’s a nice-looking old building with a small space for readings and other events. I once attended a Tumblewords event here with roster artist John Nesbitt. We’ve sponsored other events there, some in tandem with writing workshops at the State Women’s Prison.

Before last week, I hadn’t been in the Fremont County Public Library in Lander. Not even once. I can’t say why. I usually make it a point to drop into every library I pass by. The Lander Library is located a few blocks off the main drag, so maybe it slipped my mind when I was in town.

The library has an addition built in 1975. Soon, courtesy of the county’s ongoing Library Improvements for Tomorrow (LIFT) project, it will get another one. When I was there Jan. 10, workers were trimming trees and drilling test holes in advance of construction of the 12,000-square-foot addition. The old house next door is coming down, as well as some of the trees. The century-old Carnegie Building will be improved. Contractors will stabilize and waterproof the walls, re-point the stonework, and upgrade the plumbing and electrical wiring.

Library Manager Barbara Oakleaf is justifiably proud of the library – past, present, and future versions. She showed me around the Carnegie Room. Lots of groups hold their meetings in the spacious room with its big fireplace and Bierstadt painting of the Wind River Range. Preservation isn’t always easy. Barbara said that the painting once was carelessly stored away and had a hole poked in it. Now restored and insured, it highlights the historic aura of the room.

That evening, I attended the open house for another restored Lander building. The National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS) recently completed the renovation of the Noble Hotel. I wandered around the old brick building and talked to a woman who once worked in the hotel’s restaurant. NOLS alumni circulated through the building, revisiting a past when they were young and rugged and the lodging was a lot more rustic.

Lander doesn't save all of its old buildings. A coterie of citizens wanted to save the old high school for a performing arts center. But it still went the way of the wrecking ball when the new high school was built.


Saturday, January 13, 2007
Courtroom Helped McKinzie Refine Story Skills

Clinton McKinzie, University of Wyoming Law school grad and Denver-based district attorney, was profiled by writer Karen Cotton in the Jan. 12 "What’s Up" section of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle. He’s the author of the Antonio Burns mystery series set in Wyoming. He was on the mystery writing panel with C.J. Box, Craig Johnson, and Michael and Kathleen Gear at last fall’s Equality State Book Festival in Casper. We nicknamed that panel "Four Guys (and One Gal) in Hats," because they were wearing their trademark headgear. Little-known fact: if you write mysteries set in Wyoming, you have to wear a cowboy hat (or something similar). This doesn't apply to writers in other genres, although I know at least one poet who wears a black beret (beatnik flashback) and a writer of historical western novels who wears an historical top hat made of beaver.

In the WTE article, McKinzie gave his law background credit for his story-telling abilities. "When you’re speaking to a jury, you learn how to tell them in a way that has an impact on them, so they feel what the victim felt. Speaking to a jury is like plotting a book. You have to keep their attention and you keep them involved. You have to think about pacing and climax."

It makes sense. And also explains why we have so many attorneys writing mysteries and thrillers. John Grisham and Scott Turow, for example.

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Thursday, January 11, 2007
The grants training session scheduled for Thursday, Jan. 11, 7-9 p.m., at the Sweetwater County Public Library in Green River has been postponed due to bad weather. The WAC staffer due to conduct this session (me) is stuck in Riverton with snow swirling all around (see accompanying DOT webcamera photo). This session will be rescheduled for later this month or early February. As noted before, WAC already had to rearrange another grants training session, this one in Evanston on Jan. 8, due to bad weather. That one will now be held on Jan. 17, 7-9 p.m., at the Uinta County Public Library.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007
Road Trip: Ethete and Riverton

As I drove I-25 north on Tuesday, I was glad I hadn't been on the road the day before. I passed five truck trailers that had been smacked down by Monday's winds. Two were on their sides and sliding down the snowy hill on that last rise before you get to Wheatland. On the southbound lanes, two big wreckers were righting another big rig. The wind had settled to its usual 30 mph range, with enough oomph to let motorists know we are in Wyoming but not windy enough to send you down a hill or into Nebraska.

Conducted grants trainings in Ethete and Riverton yesterday. This is my first time on the road demonstrating the Arts Council's new on-line granting system. I'm still fumbling around a bit with it, so be forewarned! Despite me heavy-handedness, those in attendance in Ethete and Riverton got a sampling of the computerized application. It's easy once you get the hang of it.

At the Tech Center located next to Wyoming Indian High School, Ren Freeman outlined some of the plans she has for the Eastern Shoshone Heritage Center. They include a new building to house the center, as well as a bronze of Sacajawea (sometimes spelled Sacagawea) pulling a travois and surrounded by native plants. She plans to use local artists for all the projects. The Reservation, notes Ren, has great potential for cultural tourism if handled in the right way. She told the story a family from Denmark who visited last summer. It was almost a pilgrimage, as they had named their daughter Sacajawea. The Shoshones invited them to share a meal and participate in one of their ceremonies.

Last night at the Riverton Public Library, the attendees were all individual artists. That's a first for me. Usually I get a mix of artists and those representing arts (and other non-profit) organizations. Willie LeClair was there. You may know Willie for his long-time tenure on the WAC's artist roster. He's been to a number of communities in Wyoming and across the U.S., sometimes performing with "Buffalo" Bill Boycott and other artists. At this session, I focused on WAC's programs for individuals, which include fellowships, Individual Artist Professional Development (IAPD) grants, artists' roster, folk arts apprenticeships, and the Artist Image Registry (AIR). We have a number of opportunities for the state's many artists, and hope to have more in the future. If you're interested -- we still have money available this year for IAPD grants in literature and performing arts. Come to a grants training session and I'll show you how to apply. See my schedule below.

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Monday, January 08, 2007
Grants Training Update

The WAC staff begins traveling this week to conduct grants training sessions in 26 communities. Make that 25, as we debuted last Thursday at the Laramie County Public Library in Cheyenne. About 30 people attended, including individual artists and reps from arts orgs – and a variety of other non-profits. The training focuses on our new on-line granting program, which we have been refining since August. We’re ready to show off the process, which allows applicants to conduct the entire process on-line.

I’ll travel to four sites this week. Here’s the schedule:

Tuesday, Jan. 9, 3:30-5:30 p.m., Tech Center in Fremont County School District 14 (next to Wyoming Indian High School)), Ethete. FMI: 332-9765.
Tuesday, Jan. 9, 7-9 p.m., Fremont County Public Library, 1330 W. Park, Riverton. FMI: Syd, 856-3556.
Wednesday, Jan. 10, 7-8:30 p.m., Fremont County Public Library, 451 N. 2nd St., Lander. FMI: Linda, 332-5194.
Thursday, Jan. 11, 7-8:45 p.m., Sweetwater County Public Library, 300 N. First East, Green River. FMI: 875-3615.

During the week of Jan. 22, I’ll be in Cody, Thermopolis, Worland, and Wheatland. More about that in upcoming posts.

There have been a few changes since the grants training postcard was mailed. The Evanston training set for Monday (tonight) at the Uinta County Public Library has been postponed due to I-80 white-outs caused by hurricane-force winds. It has been rescheduled for Wednesday, Jan. 17, 4-6 p.m. at the library. The Jackson session will be held at the Teton Science School at 4-6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 11. For more info, call Laurel at 733-1313. The date and location of the Laramie training has been changed. It will be held at the UW Art Museum Multipurpose Room on Monday, Feb. 5, 7-9 p.m. For info, call 766-6622.

You can get the entire schedule at the WAC web site.

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Saturday, January 06, 2007
Quote for Our Times

From Adrienne Rich in an essay on the Poets Against War web site: "Poetry has the capacity to remind us of something we are forbidden to see."

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Friday, January 05, 2007
Malinalli (a.k.a. Malinche) Focus of Book Group

Teton County Library in Jackson announces that the sign-up begins on Monday, Jan. 8, for a Spanish book discussion. “Malinalli, Real Woman and Mythical Figure” will explore Laura Esquivel's latest work Malinche, a provocative novel based on a woman (a.k.a. Malinalli) who remains controversial for her role in the Spanish conquest of Mexico. Participants will meet in the library's Ordway Auditorium from 7-8:30 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 5. Free and open to the public. Registration is required, with space available for up to 15 people. To register stop by the library's Information Desk or call 307-733-2164 ext. 237.

An indigenous woman from the Mexican Gulf Coast, Malinche acted as an interpreter, advisor and intermediary for Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortes. She also was his mistress and had a son by him. "Malinche is viewed in Mexico as a traitor," said Patricia Rocha, the library's Latino Services Assistant. "In this book, Esquivel offers another point of view. Convinced Malinche served as an interpreter because she was a slave and had no choice, Esquivel also imagines this mythic figure's spiritual motivations -- a theme that should generate lots of discussion."

This is the fourth year the library has offered a Spanish-language book discussion, and the second year the book has been offered in either Spanish or English. Although participants may read the book in English, the discussion will be in Spanish.

FMI: Patricia Rocha at 307-733-2164 ext. 237.

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Thursday, January 04, 2007
Voicings From The High Country is now accepting poetry submissions for the 2007 edition. The deadline is February 1. Guest poet this year is Terry Rasmussen from Casper College. For guidelines, contact Ella Cvancara, 4920 South Oak St., Casper, WY 82601.

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Wednesday, January 03, 2007
Return of "Yellowstone Kelly"

I was eight when I saw the movie Yellowstone Kelly, with Clint Walker as the almost-forgotten frontiersman, explorer and army scout in the post-Civil War West. I don’t remember much of the plot, but Walker – who was star of the Cheyenne TV series – battled the wilderness, Indians, and an inept assistant played by Ed "Kookie" Byrnes. The big dude played Cheyenne Brodie on television, roaming the West and helping folks out of various predicaments. He was heroic, in all the ways of westerns of the fifties and early sixties.

The University of New Mexico Press has just published The Life of Yellowstone Kelly by Jerry Keenan of Longmont, Colo. The true tale is even more fantastic than the Hollywood version. Kelly was born in New York in 1848 and joined the U.S. Army at the close of the Civil War. He served in Minnesota and the Dakotas. When he left the army, he headed further West and "came to know the Upper Missouri and Yellowstone River valleys as well as any white man of his era," according to the UNM Press web site. Later, "he explored Alaska, fought in the Philippines, and served as agent at the San Carlos Apache reservation in Arizona. He then prospected in Nevada before finally retiring to the quiet life of a California orchardist."

"Jerry Keenan used Kelly's memoirs and personal correspondence, along with a variety of primary and secondary sources, to produce a comprehensive look at this remarkable man who knew many prominent figures of his era, including George Bird Grinnell, Col. Nelson A. Miles, William F. ‘Buffalo Bill’ Cody, and President Theodore Roosevelt."

Keenan is a writer/historian and the author of The Great Sioux Uprising, The Wagon Box Fight, Encyclopedia of American Indian Wars 1492-1890, and Encyclopedia of the Spanish-American and Philippine-American Wars.

He’ll be signing copies of his book on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2 p.m., at the Borders Bookstore, 1101 S. Hover St., Longmont, Colo.

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Tuesday, January 02, 2007
Mark Jenkins, Global Correspondent

Can’t keep a guy like Mark Jenkins down on the farm, not after he’s cycled across Siberia, paddled a kayak from battlefield to battlefield along the Turkish coast of Gallipoli, and climbed the icy Italian Ridge of the Matterhorn. Mark, a Laramie native and two-time WAC fellowship recipient, reports that he just returned from researching an article on Pakistan for National Geographic and will depart for Botswana next week to do a story for Bicycling magazine about AIDS/HIV health workers.

Between assignments, he’s at home in Laramie, spending time with his wife Sue and two daughters. Says Mark: “Even after circling the globe dozens of times, I still believe Laramie to be a wonderful place to live. It has just the right balance of cultural activities, limited traffic, intellectual residents who are often also outdoor athletes, open country right at your doorstep, gorgeous summers and brutal winters.”

After spending almost eight years writing for Outside magazine, Mark ended his column “The Hard Way” in October and departed for greener pastures. In the future, he says, “I’ll be focusing a bit less on adventure and more on geopolitical and environmental writing.” In 2007-2008, he will be writing more for the Atlantic Monthly and National Geographic, as well as working for Rodale Press as its global correspondent, penning pieces for Men's Health, Best Life, Backpacker, Bicycling and Runner's World.

Rodale will publish Mark’s second volume of collected works, A Man's Life, later this year. Rodale also is reissuing his first two books, Off The Map and To Timbuktu.

Meanwhile, you can read an original essay by Mark, "Growing Up in Wyoming," and an except from To Timbuktu, in Deep West: A Literary Tour of Wyoming, published by Grebull's Pronghorn Press.

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