Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Special Gift From Creator

Bald Eagle, the road from Sheridan back to Jentel

The Only Indians I Ever Saw in Sheridan, Wyoming

Safely encased in bronze:

Bird Woman (Above) and Sacajawea (Below)

Sheridan, Wyoming

"I am sorry for that evil man.  I feel shame that he came from my country.  I am sorry for that Sheridan."--Damien Dempsey, "Choctaw Nation"

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Public Reading in Alamosa

On February 5th I had the privilege of reading before a lively crowd of 50 folks in the Alamosa, Colorado City Council Chambers.

The reading and reception heralded the advent of Alamosa's new literary journal, Messages from the Hidden Lake, founded by the Friends of the Southern Peaks Public Library. 

The Friends threw the authors, artists, and photographers represented in the beautiful, thick tome a lovely reception replete with plenty of food and an awards ceremony emceed by the Mayor! 

Below are photographs of yours truly with said Mayor, receiving the "Best Adult Fiction" award, and with head librarian Salai Taylor, our dear friend and a vital part of our extended community on the land, and spousal unit/head cheerleader, Mark Schneider.  

To purchase a copy of Messages from the Hidden Lake, please go to note that they are also currently accepting submissions of poetry, short fiction, photographs and other artwork for Volume 2.  They accept work from children and teens, as well as adults. 

Writer's Block

Three days left here at Jentel and I've a torrent of emotions swirling around inside.  I don't want to leave this amazing place, but I really miss my husband, my community, and our land; I'm proud of what I've accomplished but feel I could do so much more if only I stayed longer; I am rested but exhausted, wanting a break from writing yet slightly terrified about re-entering society and the workload we face on the land this warm season. 

Into this maelstrom yesterday strode Writer's Block.  The cow.

Yesterday, sometime mid-afternoon, I hit the wall.  You know, the one you hit after you've been running too hard for too long, or biking too hard for too long, or strawbale-house building too hard for too long?  At least that was my story, and I stuck to it for a good 12 hours.  "I have senioritis," I moaned to Danielle, my sister in community.  She wrote back, "Do you really miss emptying humanure buckets?"

Um, no.  Thanks for the reminder.

This morning, whilst journaling, knowing I had to get back in the saddle this morning and not waste my precious remaining time here it occurred to me that the wall I hit was not THE wall I thought I'd hit, the "you've been going at this too hard; you need to go watch Firefly for two hours" wall.  Nope, I hit the eyewall:  the wall that separates the eye of the hurricane from the main part of the storm.  I finally figured out, if you're stuck in the eye of a hurricane (which all writers are because the hurricanes are, of course, of our own making) there's only one way out.  You guessed it:  through the eyewall, and from there, through the rest of that miserable storm. 

In other words, "no one here gets out alive."

For me to move forward, I have to quit with the bs, and move from that clear, blue skied place where I sat and witnessed all the muck through the eyewall (where the most violent winds live) and get deep into it again.  I'm not looking forward to this, but I know it's the only way out.  

I've got a piece I'm working on in which I try to explain this a bit better.  If I get it done soon, I'll post it.

Love to you all.  Back to work now.  Best go find my galoshes. 

Required Reading Part 2: White Readers Meet Black Authors

A few Decembers back my friend Carleen Brice (Orange Mint & Honey, Children of the Waters) started "Give a Book By a Black Author to Someone Who is Not Black" Month.  Her rationale was simple: there's a tremendous amount of great writing out there by black authors, and everybody should be reading it...not just black folks.  But, with a few notable exceptions, black writers are not well-known to white and other non-black readers.  Gosh, I wonder why that might be...?

Out of this has grown Carleen's phenomenal blog "White Readers Meet Black Authors" which is simply one of the best literary blogs out there.  It's well-maintained, multimedia, always'll have a great time when you stop by while expanding your mind and your world.  Click on the title of this post to get you there, or just go to (best URL EVER!). 

So get your butt on over there right now!  Go on.  I'll wait. 

Required Reading: Nancy Stohlman's Searching for Suzi

From the Mid-West Book Review, which gave it 5 stars!

“The exploitation has to be turned around on itself at some point. "Searching for Suzi" tells the story of Natalie, an ex-stripper who reflects on her life as she returns to Omaha Nebraska where she grew up. Discussing the obsession with appearance and the concept of sexy that ranges from the glamour and stripping industry down to childhood beauty pageants, "Searching for Suzi" is a fascinating and very highly recommended read.”

Click on the the title of this post for information on how to order from Monkey Puzzle Press. Support small presses!

Saturday, March 06, 2010

The View From My Bedroom Porch

Moonrise, Moonset

The Artist Studios at Jentel

For all you artists out there thinking of applying to Jentel ....... get your own kitchen, dining room, and bathroom, in addition to the one in the house........

Each studio comes with it's own bed, desk, sink, and window.....

.......plenty of workspace and plenty of good lighting for work at all hours of the day or night....

....a printer for you print-makers (and dancing elves), and a drying rack thingie for drying your prints
 (Fanny is not included.  Sorry.)....

....and all this makes for.....

....happy productive artists, like Gail Grinnell, Elizabeth Emery, Yann Novak, and Fanny Retsek!

Update from Jentel

Hi Everybody,

Sorry to take so long to write.  I've actually been busy...writing!  Now, there's a concept!  Writing at a writing residency--who knew?

I've been making good progress editing, editing, and re-editing stories; now I'm in the throes of constructing first drafts of the long pieces that will complete my collection, hopefully by the fall.  I've submitted stories to a few a journals, both paper and online, and one longer piece to a Glimmer Train contest.  Please keep your fingers crossed for me!

Big news on the steepening of my bloggatista learning curve:  I finally figured out how to make pages.  Very exciting.  See all those things in the upper right hand corner, where it says "about the writer"?  Those are my pages.  One of the great blessings of being here is exposure to artists further along in their careers than I.  They've had lots of good advice for me, including the radical notion that I apparently need a website.  Well, perhaps some day when this blog grows up, it will become a website.  But for now, my geeky adolescent can at least afford the rudimentary furniture necessary (supposedly) for a working artist's internet studio.
My dear friend Kim (Transier) was asking how "Jentel Presents" went.  Well, I'm so glad you asked!  It went great, and I've heard rumor that Yann Novak, one of my brother artists here, has photos of me reading, though I've yet to see evidence of this.  If they are terrible he has promised to delete them without showing me, bless him.

The evening was beautiful and a lot of fun.  The good folks here at Jentel put out a nice spread at the reception they hosted for us at Sheridan Community College, and I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with some of the artists, writers, patrons and other assorted glitterati that make up the Northeastern Wyoming art scene.

Folks proved a kind and receptive audience.  I read "Negative Space," which I think I am done reading publicly now, eventhough it's the only story I have that works for a ten minute slot.  I didn't realize until that night that I published it ten years ago!  Time to update the portfolio, n'est-ce pas?

The other artists' presentations were fascinating--I will devote a separate post or set of posts to them--and my brother-writer Zachary Watterson read his magnificent essay about teaching in prisons, the basis of his forthcoming memoir.  It was a beautiful evening.

I also wanted to update you on the "to-do list fast," which is officially over.  It was like going to a resort.  I think I feel more refreshed than after a real fast.  I got deep into a blissed out place with my writing, while simultaneously taking whatever time was needed to rest, run, walk in the sunshine, and nosh.  I've done some fun cooking, including participating in a delicious potluck dinner party with the other artists last weekend, where we first shared our work with one another.  I've also begun designing a teeny, tiny strawbale studio I hope someday soon to build on the land.

I managed not to feel neurotic at all without a to-do list, which shocked me (given that it's pretty rare I don't feel neurotic about something), but that is probably how it should be at a residency where one theoretically has no responsibilities whatsoever.  But now, it's the last week, finals week, the time of all-nighters and knuckle-downers, and cleaning the bathroom for no apparent reason, and I've a list as long as my arm and twice as fat. 

I'm going to download some photos now and see if I can figure out  how to post them without making a complete mess of them.   Thanks for reading!