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This week you hear from Kate Gray.  I met Kate in a coffee shop on Hawthorne.  We were meeting to talk about riding bikes and writing books and she sat there in her kind, quiet, and unassuming manner.  I’d just gotten on my first AWP panel and I was stoked about it and so I went on and on about AWP, not realizing what a big wig Kate Gray really was.  Finalist for an Oregon Book Award in Poetry, winner of the Gertrude Press Poetry Prize, novelist, college professor.  Kate just sat there in her contained way while I blathered…

Read More The hope for the future edition

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The Authenticity Experiment, the suddenly dead old friend special edition.  My father—consummate international business man—was never good with names.  His right ear ruined by rifles and high angle artillery on naval vessels meant that even when I was a teenager, he didn’t hear well.  So when I introduced him to Nita Kuhns, short for Juanita, I articulated the I dramatically. “Dad,” I said, “this is Neeeeeeta.  Can we drop her off on our way home?  Neeeeta lives just off Eucalyptus Road.” Rarely did my dad or mom pick me up after band rehearsal on Sunday or Monday nights.  Usually I…

Read More The suddenly old dead friend special edition

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This week you hear from the Alaskan Poet, Erin Coughlin Hollowell.  I met Erin at graduate school and I’ll be honest, at first she scared the shit out of me.  She’s super tall and, when I met her, she wore Frye boots that made her even taller.  And she’s extra super smart (and not just because she went to Cornell for undergrad).  Erin is one of the most well-read people I know, finishing well over 125 books each year. (Yeah, do the math on that, why don’t you?) She’s a deep and critical thinker—she’s also an amazing poet.  Her first book,…

Read More The beet goes on edition

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This week you hear from Ashley Brittner.  I met Ashley through her fiancé Mel Wells who works at Literary Arts, the organization that administers the Oregon Book Award.  I invited them to a reading one of my friends was hosting and realized I LOVED them both (actually, the whole room of 50-, 60-, and 70-something queers realized we loved these, um, kids).  They’re both grounded and funny and so who they are, and they’re well-read and obsessed with understanding gay history. Turns out, they’re both writers, too.  And Ashley runs “Get Nervous,” a reading and performance series centered on the…

Read More The bartering edition

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This week you hear from Nikole Potulsky.  Last summer, just weeks after my mother died, I met Nikole at a party and was immediately drawn to her easy laugh and her way of telling captivating stories.  I don’t know that I’d had a good laugh in weeks, but her stories not only coaxed a smile out of me, but made me laugh hard. I learned she was a musician and went to one of her shows, live music and all that.  Nikole is not just a stand up there and sing kind of guitar player, but a storytelling kind of…

Read More The pathfinder edition

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I first encountered Penny Guisinger at Nonfiction Now.  She was on a panel called “First Person Dangerous,” about the side-effects that writers of nonfiction face.  Penny wrote about driving hungover—not hammered, mind you—hungover, and how, while driving, she imagined the essay she’d write about it, about drinking, about not drinking.  An Internet troll had a heyday when her essay was published, tearing her apart.  Who knows why.  Because she was honest.  Because she was a woman. Because, the Internet. But I was immediately drawn to her because of these qualities: her humor, her honesty, the way she self-deprecates, and well, because I struggle…

Read More The implicit bias edition

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This week you hear from Kate Ristau.  I met Kate at the Terroir Writing Festival, organized by my grad school buddies Tandy Tillinghast Voit and Lisa Ohlen Harris (the Country Music Singing Femme asked me, “What is it with you writers and your three names?” I dunno.  We like to take up space across the spine of a book, I guess.  But I digress).  Immediately, Kate and I hit it off and not just because of our names.  Kate is a deep thinker who is also funny.  A writer of young adult fiction that’s full of myth and magic, and…

Read More The glory edition

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The Authenticity Experiment, the death and ageing edition. Here is what the woman who is not my girlfriend said to me a few nights ago. She said, “I think in the past ten years,” (well, okay, she said five years, but it is really ten, she was just being gracious), “you’ve been under a lot of pressure and you make it look easy, like things happen sequentially and you simply manage them, when we all know there is a good deal more chaos than that, than in how you are making it look.” That’s a paraphrase, but it’s close to…

Read More The death and ageing edition

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The Authenticity Experiment, the guitar edition. She said it off-handedly.  She didn’t mean it that way, but that’s how it hit my tender heart with its secret shame when I told my friend that I’d spent my teenage years in my room playing my guitar to every album popular during high school: Fleetwood Mac, Jackson Browne, Phoebe Snow, Janis Ian.  “Why would you do that?  Why wouldn’t you just write your own music?” she said.  Flat, the nasal vowels of her native Michigan coming through. Because you’re a lonely kid, I said, surprised that I’d spoken the naked truth, no spin. Because…

Read More The Guitar Edition

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The Authenticity Experiment, the mostly anxiety anniversary edition.  My friend Lesbiana Profundis, aka my secret weapon, laughs at my Rainman-like ability with dates.  Take  July 20th, for instance.  A year and two days ago, I began the Authenticity Experiment.  AE was a writing challenge for myself—to see if I could be authentic and tell the truth on social media.  Here’s the lead from that very first post: “I’m posting this to kick off my own personal FB Balance Month. I’ve been thinking a lot about how we use the FB to post our good news (book), our fun times (Cycle…

Read More The anniversary and anxiety edition

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