A Western Sky
Been a long run of rainy days
Been a long run of rainy, cold days here in Oregon. Just now, though, after a brief, sleety snow on the fading crocuses and the daffodils yet waving their yellow flags, the sky went breakaway blue. A western sky, deep and shot through with high-running clouds.
It’s been awhile since I’ve written a newsletter, and thanks for making the jump to Substack with me. But I promise I’ve been hard at work on the next novel, and it’s nearly there, and these characters have mattered so much to me—I can’t wait to share them with you! We’ve got the young runaway who bears a striking resemblance to Kurt Cobain and the old, grieving sheep rancher and a woman in the middle of her life not knowing which way to go and, of course, from Seattle to eastern Montana, plenty of roads and unfolding landscapes.
And we’ve got a new title—The Entire Sky.
Soon, folks. Soon!
River, Language, World
Oh, I’ve been dreaming of this. Haunted waters, good words, and even better company. Delighted to be offering River, Language, World, a field course on the Blackfoot River with the amazing folks at the Freeflow Institute:
When on a river—rafting, fishing, walking the rocky banks—one must pay attention. And on the Blackfoot, we’ll do exactly that: we’ll pay great and careful attention to the river and the landscape it carries us through, to the experiences, memories, and places we carry with us as we do so. We’ll work to translate those experiences into language, and then into story, and in so doing know again, and for the first time, this big, beautiful, and complicated world of ours.
This will be primarily a generative craft workshop, so come prepared to read, discuss, write, and share. We’ll explore themes of attending to, translating, storying, and knowing the world.
Other Upcoming Events
The Mission Creek Festival in Iowa City, April 7-9
The Terroir Creative Writing Festival in McMinnville, April 29
Layers of Landscape, an Outdoor Work Day and Writing Workshop on Shotpouch Creek with the Spring Creek Project, May 13
The Hardest Parts: Writing Beginnings and Endings, a Zoom Class for Hugo House, May 14
How About a Few Recommendations?
I’ve been loving and teaching poems from Corrie Williamson’s The River Where You Forgot My Name for a couple of years now, and I just picked up Danusha Lameris’s Bonfire Opera—so lovely and wise. Bonnie Jo Campbell is pretty much my favorite short story writer, and Mothers, Tell You Daughters isn’t disappointing. And as a language and landscape junky, I’ve dog-eared so many pages in Robert Macfarlane’s Landmarks. Did you know smirr, slappy, skat, and skew are all words for types of rain?
Stay in touch. And keep writing. Best, Joe
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