Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Kennedy Featured in Bombshells

Jeffe Kennedy in Laramie e-mailed wyolitmail to announce that her piece "Inheritances" appears in the new anthology, Bombshells: War Stories and Poems by Women on the Homefront from OmniArts Publishing. The book, edited by Missy Martin and Jesse Loren, is available for $12.95 at your favorite bookstore. Jeffe is a roster artist for the Wyoming Arts Council. She received the WAC's 2005 Frank Nelson Doubleday Memorial Writing Award and a 2007 WAC creative writing fellowship. Here's a jacket blurb from Joseph Boyden, author of Three Day Road: "Bombshells is simply brilliant and absolutely timely. Powerful, direct, beautiful, complex, tough, and always engaging. This is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the real price of war. I urge you to read this haunting and fascinating collection." OmniArts is donating a portion of proceeds from the sale of Bombshells to the Fisher House Foundation, an organization that serves hospitalized soldiers and their families.

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Tuesday, February 27, 2007
WyoPoets will hold its spring writing workshop on Saturday, April 28, 9:30 a.m.-4 p.m. at the Hampton Inn, 400 West F St., Casper. Sheridan writer (and WAC roster artist) Joan Puma Bennet will lead the workshop. For more information -- and to reserve a spot -- contact Mary Hein in Casper or Lee Ann Seibken in Douglas.

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Friday, February 23, 2007
Hagy Novel Explores Friendship Forged by WYO & War

Yesterday’s mail brought a review copy of Alyson Hagy’s new novel, Snow, Ashes, published by Graywolf Press. Alyson teaches in the University of Wyoming M.F.A. program and is a WAC creative writing fellowship recipient. The book’s formal release date is May 1. According to the press, Alyson will hit the road for a regional author tour, but no details yet.

Here’s a book jacket description:

The uneasy friendship between Fremont Adams and C. D. Hobbs worked best when both men had a job to do, when they could fall into the rhythm of hard labor. Neglected by his mother at an early age, Hobbs found his way into the Adams family. But everyone could tell he was always a bit off. Fremont resigned himself to watching out for Hobbs, who had the innocence and optimism that can come only from ignorance. After a grueling tour of duty in Korea, however, Adams and Hobbs return to the ranch marked in dangerous ways.

In four parts -- alternating between the Wyoming ranch and Korea -- Alyson Hagy reveals the intricacies of a profound friendship between two very different men. Snow, Ashes is a suspenseful, engaging exploration of survival and failure and of how the most vulnerable among us can have a wisdom beyond measure.

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Thursday, February 22, 2007
What Would Walt Read Out Loud?

High School students from throughout Wyoming will participate in the state finals of the "Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest," at 7 p.m., March 5, at the Plains Hotel in downtown Cheyenne.

Winners of this year’s competition will be announced at an awards ceremony in the Capitol Rotunda at 8 a.m., March 6. The public is invited to attend both the evening competition and awards ceremony.

During the state finals, contestants will recite works they selected from an anthology of more than 400 poems. It includes old favorites by Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, as well as poems by dynamic living authors who've read their work or conducted workshops in Wyoming, such as Joy Harjo, Jorie Graham, Robert Bly, and Li Young-Lee. You can read those poems -- or memorize them yourselves -- by going to the Poetry Out Loud web site.

The Wyoming Arts Council, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation are co-sponsors of POL. It's a national program that encourages high school students to learn about poetry through memorization, performance and competition. This is the second consecutive year that Wyoming has participated in Poetry Out Loud.

Poetry Out Loud encourages mastery of great poetry by offering educational materials and a dynamic competition to high schools across the country. The process begins at the classroom level. Those winners advance to a school-wide competition, then to the state capital competition, and ultimately to the National Finals in Washington, D.C. More than 250,000 students across the country are expected to take part this year.

The NEA and Poetry Foundation created a standards-based teacher’s guide, a comprehensive website and a CD featuring poetry recitations by well-known actors and writers such as Anthony Hopkins, Alyssa Milano, N. Scott Momaday and Rita Dove.

FMI: Wyoming Arts Council at 307-777-7742.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Teton County Library Hosts Fantasy Author

T.A. Barron, who writes "epic tales of young heroes on their paths to self discovery," will conduct a talk and book signing at the Teton County Public Library in Jackson from 7:30-8:30 p.m. on Friday, March 2, in the Ordway Auditorium. The program is free and open to the public.

"Barron’s talk will explore how he finds great inspiration in the wonders of nature and the heroic potential of every person," says Lara Lovett, Young Adult Coordinator. "During the talk, he will illustrate his words with pictures and welcome questions from kids, teens and parents."

Lovett says that Barron’s stories of heroic young people set in a variety of places and times have proven to be a popular pick among the library’s young adult readers. "Fantasy fans have devoured The Lost Years of Merlin epic and are equally enthusiastic about Barron’s most recent trilogy," says Lovett. The new trilogy, The Great Tree of Avalon, has become a New York Times bestseller, while Barron’s The Lost Years of Merlin is being developed as a feature film.

Barron says that he cultivated a love of the outdoors while growing up on a ranch outside Colorado Springs, Colo. In elementary school, he wrote, illustrated and printed his own magazine called The Idiot’s Odyssey. He continued to write in college and during backpacking journeys through Asia and Africa.

Barron took a detour through the business world where he worked as president of a venture capital firm in New York. In 1989, Barron moved back to Colorado where he now lives with his wife and five children on a small farm. Barron has been awarded the Wilderness Society’s highest honor, the Robert Marshall Award, for his efforts to protect America’s wilderness heritage.

While in town, Barron will also make presentations for Jackson Hole Middle School, Summit School and Journeys School students.

FMI: Lara Lovett at 733-2164 ext. 221 or via e-mail

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Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Ron Franscell Returns

Ron Franscell announces "Wyoming Book Tour II" for his book Fall: The Rape and Murder of Innocence in a Small Town, which the Chicago Sun-Times has called "heartbreaking ... the girls' last terrifying moments are delivered with such vivid texture that they are almost too painful to read. The technique and execution is not unlike Truman Capote's In Cold Blood.... And just when your heart is broken by this terrible tragedy, Franscell adds a coda that will further disturb your peaceful sleep."

Here's Ron's schedule:
Saturday, March 10, 7-9 p.m., Discussion and Q&A, Natrona Co. Library, Casper
Monday, March 12, noon-2 p.m., Hastings Books, Gillette
Monday, March 12, 6-7 p.m., Book Shop on Main, Sheridan
Tuesday, March 13, 1-3 p.m., Books & Briar, Riverton
Wednesday, March 14, 1-2:30 p.m., Wheatland Mercantile Book Nook, Wheatland
Thursday, March 15, 5-7 p.m., B. Dalton Books, Rock Springs
Friday, March 16, 4-7 p.m., Off the Beaten Path Bookstore, Rawlins
Saturday, March 17, 1-3 p.m., Main Street Books, Lander

Go to Ron's web site for more info.

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Monday, February 19, 2007
Brush Up on Your Writing at YWC

Micah Wyatt in Laramie informs me that the dates have been set for the 2007 Young Writers Camp at the scenic Thorne-Rider Youth Camp near Story.

Writers (ages 15-18) will gather June 16-23 at the camp. Instructors/mentors/chaperones will be the same as last summer. Micah, a writer and YWC alumnus, returns as director. Danica Wyatt, a fine essayist, physicist, and Micah's sister, will be there, as will poet Jesse Loesberg from San Franscisco.

Guest teachers are wont to drop in. Last June, I joined the teachers and students for some mysterious homemade stir fry and we sat around the fire pit on a balmy evening and discussed short story writing. Everyone read a sample of his/her work.

Here's where I have to admit that my son, Kevin Shay, is a YWC alumnus. He says he'd love to come back as a visiting writer and may someday because he's a pretty good writer (I'm biased) and is working towards a career as a high school language arts teacher. As we speak, he's taking courses at Pima County Community College in Tucson, a place he enjoys very much in the winter months but not so much in July.

Sign up for the 2007 camp by going to the Young Writers Camp web site and downloading the printable application. It's open to teen writers who live in WYO and elsewhere.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007
Memoirs Highlighted at NWC Writers Series

The Northwest College Writers Series in Powell will feature these writers during the spring semester:

Mary Clearman Blew (pictured at right), author of the memoir "All But the Waltz" and professor at University of Idaho, Tuesday, Feb. 20 at 7:30 p.m. Fagerberg Building, Room 70.

Kim Barnes, an Idaho native whose memoir, "Into the Woods," was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize, Thursday, March 29 at 7:30 p.m., Fagerberg Building, Room 70.

Garry Wallace teaches biology and English at NWC and will read from his memoir, "Biography of a Bird Dog," on Tuesday, April 10 at 7:30 p.m. Listen to a live interview with Garry on Tuesday, April 3, on KODI’s Party Line show at 9 a.m. (1400 AM on the dial; simulcast on KZMQ 1140 AM).

Wyoming Poet Laureate David Romtvedt on Friday, April 20, 7:30 p.m., in the Nelson Performing Arts Building. David will be interviewed at 9 a.m. on April 16 on KODI’s Party Line show.

All the events are free and open to the public. FMI: http://www.northwestcollege.edu/hum/writers.htm

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Friday, February 16, 2007
What's New On WAC Web?

The Wyoming Arts Council is making a gallant attempt to keep updated its web site. It's always a work in progress -- as anyone knows who has an active site.

There are some new features on http://www.wyomingartscouncil.org. The Cybergrants system allows you to apply for organizational grants and Individual Artist Professional Development grants. Just go to the home page and click on the "Grants/Applications" link. WAC staffers continue to find some quirky aspects to Cybergrants, especially as we guide applicants through the process.

"Arts Organizations" is an especially useful link if you're looking for arts councils, presenters, libraries, museums and other organizations. If your org is not up there, send us a link and we'll add it to the list. Find the link on the list in the middle of the home page. We plan to add a page for the state's individual artists.

As I noted in an earlier post this week, a printable artist roster application is on the site. Just follow the link in the "News" section.

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Thursday, February 15, 2007
Any truth to the rumor that former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins will read in Jackson in early June?


Monday, February 12, 2007
La Frontera is New Publisher in Town

It's good news when Wyoming gets a new book publisher.

La Frontera Publishing has set up shop in Cheyenne -- and its first book is by a Wyomingite. La Frontera chose Encampment's Candy Moulton as its debut author with the second (and revised) edition of her 1994 book "Legacy of the Tetons: Homesteading in Jackson Hole." It will be distributed by the University of New Mexico Press and is featured in the press's spring catalog.

This new edition features a special section on "Mormon Row" and the handcart migration along the Mormon Trail. La Frontera's publisher, Mike Harris, sent me a review copy. It's a good-looking book, with a cover photo featuring one of the Mormon Row cabins with the distinctive Tetons in the background. Lots of photos are included, as is a map produced by WAC fellowship recipient Hannah Hinchman.

I know very little about this aspect of WYO history and look forward to reading the book before the next time I see Candy, which probably will be at the June 1-3 Wyoming Writers, Inc. conference in Thermopolis.

Mike and his wife plan to complete their move to WYO from southern California this summer. He has two more books in production. One, Mike says, is a fictional "family saga set during the Black Hills gold rush of 1876" and the other is "a nonfiction account of the last U.S. mining rush that took place around Death Valley in 1913" which is also "a bit of a true-life murder mystery."

Mike says he wants to let this blog's readers know that the press is looking for historical nonfiction manuscripts about Wyoming. "I have a slot open in my spring 2008 publishing schedule for a nonfiction book and I'm hoping to find something about Wyoming's Old West (about 1830s to around 1918) that would fit the bill. Our guidelines are on our the web site.... We don't accept printed manuscripts -- everything needs to be on a CD-ROM and presented in Microsoft Word or an RTF format."

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Sunday, February 11, 2007
Reading Under the Stars

Wyoming summers are short.

That thought occurred to me (not for the first time) as I prowled around Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis a few weeks ago on a below-zero morning. My ears froze to my head and my breath formed clouds as I chugged along. I was transfixed by the patterns made by the ice which froze as it spilled over the hot springs terrace. Local ducks seemed content floating on the section of the Big Horn River where the geothermal flow spilled into the stream's icy waters.

During my gawking tour, I checked out the park's pavillion. At a meeting in Cheyenne in November, HSSP Superintendent Kevin Skates had offered the pavillion as a venue for summer arts events. Now that I had a chance to look at it, buried as it was under several feet of snow, I could see its possibilities. I suggested to Wyoming Writers, Inc., conference planners that it would make a great place to hold open readings during its annual conference June 1-3 at the Holiday Inn, located right inside the park.

So that's what we're going to do. Our sunset readings will be held on Friday, June 1, 7:30-10 p.m. and on Saturday, June 2, 8:30-10 p.m. I will serve as emcee, a role I've grown into the past few years. Charles Curley and I are looking around for a sound system and Kevin Skates promised to set up chairs for both nights. Although the pavillion is located within spitting distance of the hotel, a shuttle service will be available. Park visitors are also being invited to come out and see some of the best writers in the state read their work. This is part of Kevin's goal to add more arts programming to his summer events' schedule.

Some long-time Wyomingites might be remembering that the first weekend in June can be warm and dry and calm. Or cold and wet and windy. The pavillion stage is sheltered. Alas, the audience area is not. Never fear -- we're making contingency plans.

Still, how could you come to such a gorgeous place in the summer and not want to read your poetry outside?

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Friday, February 09, 2007
Deadline Extended for Poetry Out Loud

The Wyoming Arts Council (WAC) invites teachers in grades 9-12 to sign up their classes for this spring's Poetry Out Loud: National Recitation Contest. The National Endowment for the Arts, the nation’s largest arts' funder, and the Poetry Foundation, the nation’s largest literary organization, have joined with the WAC to bring Poetry Out Loud to high schools across America.

Poetry Out Loud builds on the recent resurgence of poetry as an oral art form, as demonstrated by the slam poetry movement and the immense popularity of rap music. The program encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and performance, which help students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and internalize our rich literary heritage.

Last year, 11 schools from throughout Wyoming participated in the program. Kamaria Stephens from Cheyenne East High School won the state finals and represented Wyoming at the national finals in Washington, D.C.

Share this information with high school drama, speech and language arts teachers. Please respond by Feb. 21. FMI: Marcia Dunsmore, Poetry Out Loud Coordinator, 307-746-4110.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007
Apply Now for WAC Roster

The Wyoming Arts Council (WAC) has just opened up the roster application process for in-state artists. Postmark deadline is March 30. Applications will be sent out early next week to mailing lists in folk arts, literature, performing arts, and visual arts categories. You can also print the application and guidelines pages by going to the WAC web site after Feb. 15.

WAC welcomes new roster applicants each spring. The applications are reviewed by a peer panel in April and the WAC board makes the final decisions at their quarterly meeting in May. Those accepted for the roster are included in the WAC web site and in the printed ongoing grants book for the new fiscal year which begins July 1. Organizations applying for Arts Across Wyoming (our most popular grant category) must use a roster artist.

Once accepted to the roster, artists will remain on it until 2011.

This year, the WAC roster features 39 individuals and groups. The staff would love to double that number. It's a real plus for artists, as we post their information, including audio and visual clips, for as long as they stay on the roster. A great way to promote yourself, especially if you don't yet have a web page.

E-mail me for more info. Or call the WAC in Cheyenne at 307-777-7742.
Monday, February 05, 2007
Literary Connection April 27-28

In early December, I reported that the Literary Connection: Between Readers and Writers conference in Cheyenne had selected three of its five presenters. Now the line-up is complete. They include Brooklyn's Myla Goldberg, author of the national bestseller Bee Season; novelist and short story writer Jill McCorkle (The Cheerleader, Crash Diet); Bob Shacochis, globe-trotting author of Swimming in the Volcano and Easy on the Islands; Wyoming songwriter Jeff Hawthorne Bullock (Girls Night Out, recorded by The Judds); and California poet Kim Addonizio, author of Jimmy & Rita and Tell Me, a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award.

As in the past, two of the scheduled writers will conduct a free writing workshop at Laramie County Community College on Friday, April 27, 1-4 p.m. On Saturday, April 28, 10:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m., at the Hitching Post Inn, the Connection’s five writers will talk about their work and sign books, courtesy of City News. There is a cost for this event.

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Friday, February 02, 2007
University of Wyoming Dept. of Theatre and Dance offers two plays of topical interest during February:

Spinning into Butter
By Rebecca Gilman

Directed by William Missouri Downs
February 6-11, 2007, 7:30 p.m. (10 p.m. Fri.-Sat. and 2 p.m. Sunday matinee)
Fine Arts Studio Theatre
"Rebecca Gilman’s award-winning play is a searing, darkly comic exposé of hidden racism and political correctness on American college campuses. When patently racist notes are tacked on the door of one of the few African-American students attending a rural Vermont college, a crisis erupts that sends the liberal dean of students, faculty, and administrators “spinning into butter” in the name of political correctness.”

The Eight: Reindeer Monologues
By Jeff Goode

Directed by Lance Martin
February 14-16, 7 p.m.
$5 Students & $10 General Public at the door
Sponsored by the Associated Students of the Performing ArtsFine Arts Studio Theatre
”In this wickedly funny comedy, scandal erupts at the North Pole when one of Santa's eight tiny reindeer accuses him of sexual harassment. A media circus ensues, with each of member of Santa’s team demanding to give his or her own perspective on the happenings at the toyshop.”

For tickets, go to the UW box office.

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Thursday, February 01, 2007
Meet the Arts Council Board

The Wyoming Arts Council board meets Feb. 1-2 at the Hitching Post Inn in Cheyenne as part of this week's 25th anniversary celebration of the Governor's Arts Awards. The board will meet from 1-5 on Thursday and 8:30 a.m.-4 p.m. on Friday. The traditional public comment session will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Friday at the Hitch. This is your opportunity to offer your comments about the WAC and/or the board, or to quiz us about our policies. The WAC has undergone many changes in the past year so it's a good time to come out and see what's new.

The GAA dinner and awards ceremony starts at 6 p.m. on Friday at the Taco John's Center next to the Hitch. Dinner will be served at 7, followed by the awards presentation by Gov. Dave Freudenthal at 8. We also have some great entertainment on tap. One of the honorees this year is poet and teacher Barbara Smith of Rock Springs. This continues the WAC tradition of honoring writers, literary groups and patrons in the state. During the past 25 years, awards have gone to David Romtvedt, Charles Levendosky, Gaydell Collier, Neltje, Ucross Foundation, and Wyoming Writers, Inc. It's not too early to start thinking about other lit people and orgs that have contributed mightily to Wyoming's literary tradition.

Unfortunately for procrastinators, the registration deadline for Friday's GAA gala event already has passed. See you next year.

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