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Jan. 17, 2022 LA GRANDE, Ore. – Step into the literary dark side of the Pacific Northwest with “Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verses from the Gloomy Northwest,” a new collection that breaks the picturesque mold of the region with writings from 56 Northwest authors.
Eastern Oregon University hosts 2022’s first installment of the Carl and Sandra Ellston Ars Poetice Literary Lecture Series at 6 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 20 on Zoom.
The upcoming reading focuses on the 2021 literary collection, “Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verses from the Gloomy Northwest.” Editors Sharma Shields and Maya Jewell Zeller, along with contributors Beth Piatote, EOU MFA faculty member Joe Wilkins, and EOU MFA student Alexander Ortega, will read excerpts from the book.
“Evergreen” includes short stories, essays and poetry with an emphasis on somber and gloomy tones and themes.
“It’s a cool book. It collects work in all genres and argues for a gloomy mood in the Northwest, which is sort of true. It also brings together an interesting array of writers, some who are not in the Northwest but grew up here, and some who are no longer with us,” said Assistant Professor of English/Writing Nick Neely.
Publishers described the anthology, saying, “In works that span themes from colonialism to environmentalism, from toxic masculinity to a loss of faith, the writers here unflinchingly address what makes us vulnerable, what makes us complex, what cleaves us and what connects us. As Zeller writes in the book’s introduction, this ambitious anthology pushes us to ‘learn, memorize, and recite the songs sung by these regional voices, mapping us into a communal root system of evergreen selves.’”
“Evergreen” also features works from two members of the EOU community, Wilkins and Ortega.
“It includes the work of one of our MFA students, Alexander Ortega, one of his first published short stories, as well as some of the work from one of our faculty members, Joe Wilkins. It’s an interesting anthology about this region and its mood, so it seemed like a great choice for a group reading and conversation,” Neely said.
In addition to covering the contents of the collection, the session will also include discussion and information on publishing practices, with an emphasis on small-scale publishing.
“I’m looking forward to hearing the voices of these writers read their own work, and then of course I’m always interested in publishing projects and how they got their footing and how Scablands Books is making this anthology a success,” Neely said.
Ars Poetica has continued to hold remote readings each term after moving online in 2020 with various degrees of audience participation, though student and faculty involvement have been lower than expected.
“Online readings are pretty competitive in this day and age. The turnout in general of the students and faculty has not been what I’d hoped, but we’re going to try to do better,” Neely said.
The meeting takes place at 6 p.m. on Jan. 20 over Zoom. Recent and future Ars Poetica sessions can be viewed here. Upcoming events feature award-winning novelist Kirstin Valdez Quade on Feb. 10, and Emily Maloney and Katherine Standefer, essayists on health care, on March 3.
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