April WordFest NW celebrates National Poetry Month

The WordFest event on Tuesday, April 13, 7:00-8:00 pm, highlighted local poets in recognition of National Poetry Month. Due to the continuing Covid pandemic, all WordFest NW events are available on Zoom only.

Astoria Poet Florence Sage lives and writes where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean. Her new poetry collection, The Man Who Whistled, The Woman Who Wished, tells the story of her mother and father, children of Polish immigrants to Canada, during World War II.

“My first-generation Polish-Canadian parents were the inspiration for these anecdotes and stories.  As I reflected and wrote, I came to love the two of them even more and to appreciate fully the lucky life they gave me in the 21 years I lived with them,” says Florence.

Her tender-hearted memoir shows the poetic nature of reminiscence, and how rich the memory can be when allowed to explore the past. 

“Reminiscing about life in your own family puts you in another time and place, a place that sometimes seems more real than your daily life,” she says. “I found my memories to be not just about my family, but about ‘us’ together.  It made me into someone who is both a figure in these stories and an observer with a current point of view.”

This is Florence’s second collection, following Nevertheless: Poems from the Gray Area. (2014.) Currently, the books are available at Paperback Galore in Longview, RiverSea Gallery, 1160 Commercial, Astoria, Time Enough Books in Ilwaco, or can be ordered from hipfish@charter.net.

The book has been selected for The Astorian‘s Coast Weekend book club on Zoom on June 2.

Joining Florence will be local poets Jan Bono from Long Beach, Charolette Conklin and Mary Lyons from Longview, Jim MacLeod from Kalama, Dayle Olson from Cathlamet, and Rick E. George from White Salmon, reading from their works and giving voice to life as they experience it in the Pacific Northwest.

WordFest is a monthly gathering of local writers and readers, celebrating the joy and magic of words, with public readings, discussions, and networking opportunities. In-person events were suspended in March 2020, due to the coronavirus pandemic, and monthly one-hour events on Zoom were launched in October.

The WordFest on Zoom events are free and open to the public. One doesn’t need to have a Zoom account to participate, but one must register for the free, monthly WordFest newsletter here to receive the Zoom invitation by email.

March WordFest highlights northwest history

Both fictional and non-fictional historical events were featured at the WordFest on Zoom event on Tuesday, March 9, at 7:00 pm.

Michael Perry‘s excellent series on the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-06 that first ran in the Columbia River Reader has now been published in one volume, Dispatches from the Discovery Trail: A Layman’s Lewis and Clark.

Mike will read from the book and discuss his multi-year research, following in the tracks of the Corps of Discovery. Beautifully illustrated by the Pacific Northwest woodcut artist Debby Neely and edited by Hal Calbom, the book is available at the Columbia River Reader office or at www.crreader.com/crrpress.

Cathlamet resident Lilly Robbins Brock will read from the fourth book in her sweeping Intrepid Journey saga of the Bennett family. Twists of Fate opens as the nation (and the Bennett family) face the prospect of Civil War.

All Lilly’s books are available on Amazon or for a signed paperback copy,  contact: lillybrock62@gmail.com.

During the Open Mic period, Caleigh Maffett will read two poems, including one that will appear in this year’s Salal Review.

Caleigh recently graduated from Washington State University /Vancouver with a BA in English and Communications and a minor in Creative Writing. Her prose and poetry have been featured in LCC’s Salal Review and the WSU magazine.

The WordFest on Zoom events are free and open to the public. One doesn’t need to have a Zoom account to participate, but one must register for the free, monthly WordFest newsletter here to receive the Zoom invitation link by email.

For more information, go to www.alan-rose.com.

Join online book discussion of Alan’s new novel, Friday, February 12 at 1:00 pm.

Join us for a “virtual book club” to discuss Alan’s haunting novel about the AIDS epidemic, As If Death Summoned. The story explores how ongoing grief can erode a life, and also how finding one’s way through grief can rebuild, renew, and deepen life.

The Zoom event on Friday, February 12, at 1:00 pm. is free and open to the public. People on the WordFest newsletter email list will receive an invitation link Friday morning. People do not need a Zoom account to participate.

People not on the WordFest email list can subscribe here. (The monthly newsletter is free and one can unsubscribe at any time.)

Vikki J. Carter, host and producer of Authors of the Pacific Northwest podcast, will lead the conversation. Participants will have the opportunity to ask the author questions about the book and the true stories on which the novel is based. But the discussion will also explore how participants have experienced their own personal losses, and what helped–and didn’t help–them through life-shattering grief.

It is not necessary to have read the novel to participate.

Murder, mystery, WWII women pilots, and Fisher Poets at the February 9 WordFest

Three popular mystery writers read at the WordFest on Zoom event on Tuesday, February 9, at 7:00 pm., although only one of them read read from her mystery series. See the video below:

Hannah Dennison will be reading from her home in Devon, England. A member of Sisters in Crime, Mystery Writers of America, the Willamette Writers, and British Crime Writers’ Association, Hannah is the author of five books in the Vicky Hill Mystery series and six books in her Honeychurch Hall Mystery series. She has recently published Death at High Tide, the first book in her new Island Sisters series. Coincidentally, her mother is a docent at Greenway, Agatha Christie’s summer home, which has been turned into a museum.

USA Today best-selling author Marty Wingate will read from her latest book, Glamour Girls (Alcove Press), a historical novel that follows Spitfire pilot Rosalie Wright through both the physical and emotional dangers of the Second World War. Marty also writes The First Edition Library mystery series (Berkley) set in Bath, England, about the curator of a collection of books from the Golden Age of Mystery. In book two, Murder Is a Must, an exhibition manager is found dead at the bottom of a spiral staircase—a la Dorothy L. Sayers. Marty also writes the Potting Shed and Birds of a Feather mystery series.

Jan Bono is author of the Sylvia Avery mystery series, set on the Long Beach peninsula of the Washington coast, but at the next WordFest, Jan will be reading from her new collection of poems, Fisher Girl, Fisher Wife, Fisher Poet, in preparation for this year’s Gathering of Fisher Poets, February 25-27, in Astoria, Oregon. Due to Covid-19, the popular event will be available on Zoom for the first time.

The WordFest on Zoom events are free and open to the public. One doesn’t need to have a Zoom account to participate, but one must register for the free, monthly WordFest newsletter here to receive the Zoom invitation link.

For more information, go to www.alan-rose.com.

Alan Rose reads from his new novel at WordFest on Jan 12, 2021

Watch the video of the January WordFest on Zoom below.

WordFest coordinator Alan Rose will read from his new novel at the next “WordFest on Zoom” event, Tuesday, January 12, 2021, 7:00-8:00 pm. Released on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2020, by Amble Press, As If Death Summoned tells the stories of people caught in the AIDS epidemic of the 1980s and ’90s. Alan, who worked at Cascade AIDS Project in Portland from 1993 to 1999, captures the pathos, resilience and the death-defying humor of those years. Foreword Reviews calls the book “as heartwarming and hope-giving as it is heartbreaking,” 

About the Book: In 1936, a man was caught in a blizzard on Australia’s Bogong High Plains. Found unconscious by a search party, he was taken to the nearest township where an old aborigine woman made the cryptic comment, “They brought back only his body.” He died soon after. In the decades since, there have been reports of a lone figure seen wandering in the region. When approached, the man vanishes without a trace.

Almost sixty years later, a young American returns from Australia, exhausted after ten years on the front lines of the AIDS epidemic and haunted by dreams of the Bogong High Plains. He, too, is lost in a kind of blizzard, struggling to remember a time when life was about more than death. Working at an AIDS organization in Portland, Oregon, he will eventually come to understand the old woman’s words and his mystic connection to the Bogong High Plains: When he returned to the States, he brought back only his body.

The historical event known as the Mt Bogong Tragedy is the seed for this fictional story of profound loss and profound healing. With expected pathos and unexpected humor, As If Death Summoned testifies to the power of grief to erode a life, and—for those who can find a way through their grief—the power to rebuild and renew it.

Hold the Dates:

Book Signing (properly masked, socially distanced) from 1:00-4:00 pm, in the Merk in downtown Longview on Saturday, January 16. Paperbacks Galore will sell copies at a discount of $17.

Virtual Book Discussion with Alan via Zoom on Friday, February 12, 1:00-2:00 pm, hosted by Vikki J. Carter, producer of the podcast series, Authors of the Pacific Northwest. (Register for free Zoom invitation link with Alan at alan@alan-rose.com, or Vikki at vikki@squishpen.com)

Dayle Olson, a poet and short story writer living in Wahkiakum County, will read “What Sets Us Free,” which first appeared in Seaside Libraries’ 2019 short story anthology.

Dayle’s short stories were selected two years running by Seaside Libraries for publication in their annual anthology. She lives with her husband David and two opinionated cats in Cathlamet.  Her poem, “Water Highway/SR 4 at Stella,” was one of eight chosen statewide for inclusion in Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna’s Washington Poetic Routes broadsheet project. In addition to writing poetry during the pandemic, Dayle has been researching the stories of early residents buried in the local Pioneer Cemetery.

Longview poet and essayist Mary Lyons is a WordFest favorite, known for her often humorous accounts of life in the (now) twenty-first century. Mary will be reading a short story, “Joy to the Whirled!” about preparing for the Christmas season during the current pandemic, involving domineering cats, two grandchildren, and three Baby Yodas.

The WordFest on Zoom events are free and open to the public. One doesn’t need to have a Zoom account, but one must register for the (free) monthly WordFest newsletter here to receive the Zoom invitation link.

For more information, go to www.alan-rose.com