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I am very excited to announce an event I’m organizing for Bona Fide Books: Three Ways to Look at a Landscape, a benefit for Adventure Risk Challenge on Sunday, September 23. Located at the Sagehen Creek Field Station north of Truckee, the workshop is all about observation, from three different points of view. We’ve paired a poet (Janet Smith), a biologist (Sue Kloss), and an artist (Michelle Murdock) up to walk participants through the woods to share knowledge and identification keys. Please help me spread the word, or better yet, ATTEND this amazing event! You’ll be supporting the great cause that is Adventure Risk Challenge (youth literacy and leadership) and learning a ton.

Cost is $60; sack lunch and snacks provided. RSVP at bonafidebooks.com, 530-573-1513.

Images (above, from left) by Gogoloopie/Flickr, Gregor_y/Flickr, and Michelle Murdock

My essay “Lost on Migration?” is out in the book Tahoe Blues, published this June by Bona Fide Books. I’m very proud of its inclusion in this collection, which I also copyedited and proofread before it hit the press. It’s such a treat to get an early read on Bona Fide’s material, to help shape it into book form. The essay is of a personal nature, about my migration from Georgia to California. It’s about fitting in, being different, feeling at home. I talk about brown thrashers in California, and the lone wolverine who’s made a home here. I think animals make such interesting parallels for our lives. I just bought the book Califauna and can’t wait to read more about regional animals and our connection to them.

A big thanks to Will Richardson of Tahoe Institute for Natural Science, the “biologist friend” in my essay who discussed animals and migration with me as I was writing this essay. Will is a valuable resource in our community. Just the other day, he pulled out his telescopic lens after an ultimate game in Truckee so we could view this red-tail hawk. I snapped this photo through the lens with my iPhone.

Last month I participated in a poetry slam at Bona Fide Books, for the opening of Benjamin Arnold’s exhibit “Breathing Rusted Rivets.” Us volunteer poets had to get up before an audience and judging panel, spouting out poems we created from words pulled from a hat in mere minutes.

Here are the words and the poems I created from them. Vernon Lee, whose back is pictured in the photo at left, crushed the competition to take first, but I ended up landing second place, just a point or two above two other fierce poets, Heather Kenison (pictured at right) and Janet Smith (pictured at left).

SOUL

(An ode to Erin Bechtol, Bona Fide’s editorial assistant who is leaving later this month for Seoul, Korea)

Seoul, Soul

Erin’s moving to Seoul,

the goddess of book fairs,

the queen of the Bona Fide knoll,

the heart, the

soul, soul,

Erin’s leaving for Seoul

for a canoli with kimchi,

for an adventure, for a new way to roll

with soul, soul,

Erin’s really leaving for Seoul

Erin, we’ll miss your soul!

SEX

(My rendition on this word is inspired by someone once telling me that pollen in the air was like watching flower sex. I might work on this poem to convey that more, but here it is as written/performed.)

Spring opens up her dewey arms

petals say yes to the light

my nostrils tingle

a stinging tear in my eye

a-a-a-choo!

The air’s thick with…

FLOWER SEX.

KNUCKLE

When my pen’s lazy

it snuggles with my knuckle.

Right on in there

between the bony joints

like a slothful cigarette

biding its time for the burn.

Oh how I try to coerce it

into that prolific

threesome with the thumb,

but it just wants to snuggle,

with the knuckle.

I’ve had a busy and exciting past month. Work-wise, I’ve been using every corner of the old brain: copyediting for Clear Capital; writing ads for Smith + Jones; doing SEO work for Wolfsmith Media, Bona Fide Books, and Balance Bodyworks Tahoe in-home massage; copyediting a short story anthology and a current research book on violence and the media for the Center for Basque Studies; writing and proofreading for Moonshine Ink; proofreading for Tahoe Quarterly; continuing to manage the Tahoe Mountain Sports blog… wow, I’m dizzy just writing all that!

And to top of the madness, I had the privilege of joining the Bona Fide Books crew for the AWP annual publishing conference in Chicago. What a trip! We lived it up, and I plan to soon post a few topic-specific roundups, including my trip to the Art Institute, my Chicago dining recommendations, and of course the lowdown on AWP. I took the stormy Chicago skyline photo above from our hotel room at the Palmer House Hilton.

I’m working on a few copyediting projects right now, including a research series text on violence and communication for the Center for Basque Studies, but my favorite work—if I can even call it that—is editing the Tahoe Blues collection for Bona Fide Books. Due on shelves in June, the collection pairs fiction, nonfiction, and a few poems, all under 500 words in length, in one volume. The stories are fascinating so far. I’m about halfway through the 60 pieces.

I took the above photo on a lunch break today. Being able to experience this lake daily, and reading all the different points of view in Tahoe Blues, makes me remember just how lucky I am to live here.