OSU Libraries | OSU Home
November 21st, 2018

We at the OSU Press had a great time at the Portland Book Festival this year! Formerly known as Wordstock, the Portland Book Festival is a major regional literary event organized by Literary Arts that has brought together writers, publishers, and book lovers from the Pacific Northwest and beyond since 2005. This year the festival took place on November 10 in downtown Portland and featured over 100 authors who shared their work at readings, panels, and lectures. Read on to hear about our team at the 2018 Portland Book Festival.

 The book fair was bustling! The OSU Press was one of 80 vendors selling books and talking to readers and authors on Saturday.

 We got to say hello to our authors Greg Nokes author of Massacred for Gold: The Chinese in Hell’s Canyon, Sue Armitage author of Shaping the Public Good: Women Making History in the Pacific Northwest, and Kris Anderson, author of State of Giving: Stories of Oregon Volunteers, Donors, and Nonprofits. Marty and Tom were busy talking books and saying hello all day.

 We went to some amazing panels in the morning and afternoon on Saturday. Trevino Brings Plenty, Laura Da’, and Layli Long Soldier shared beautiful and moving poems and perspectives at the New Poets of Native Nations panel. Seeing Marilyn Chin, Eileen Myles, and Justin Phillip Reed at the Outside In: Poetry & Politics panel was incredibly inspiring as well.



 Meanwhile in the Portland Art Museum galleries, Son of Amity author Peter Nathaniel Malae was featured as a Pop-Up reader in the afternoon.  


Listeners gathered to listen to the opening pages of his novel next to the the painting Untitled (House on Cliff) by artist Anne Kutka McCosh.

In addition to OSU Press, the OSU MFA program was also present at the festival. During Portland’s Lit Crawl, OPOSSUM Magazine hosted a Literary Cabaret featuring writers of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction with accompanying musicians. OSU MFA faculty Marjorie Sandor, Keith Scribner, Tracy Dougherty, David Turkel, Elena Passarello were among the readers and musicians, and MFA alumnus Erica Trabold was a featured reader as well. The day of the festival, Elena Passarello moderated the panel Real Women: Badass Heroines featuring authors Karen Karbo and Amy Stewart, and Tracy Daughterty interviewed author Sara Weinman. It was wonderful to see OSU’s community participating in this year’s festival.

 Thank you to all who visited us at the Portland Book Festival, and thank you to those visiting us virtually too! We’re thrilled to be a part of this literary community with you.


November 14th, 2018

"The worst storm I have ever seen is approaching Portland and the Willamette Valley right now," meteorologist John C. "Jack" Capell warned listeners via radio on the evening of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm.

So opens A Deadly Wind, in which author John Dodge uses research and interviews with survivors of the storm to paint a picture of the event, sharing how the storm shaped the lives of Oregonians.

Today on the blog as part of University Press #TurnItUP week highlighting local publishing, John shares his findings from a different side of the storm’s history: how the event affected different age groups psychologically.


Young children rushed outside to the let the powerful winds propel their bicycles or lift them off their feet in fanciful flight. Friday night commuters drove home at the peak of the storm, mindless of falling trees, downed power lines and debris slicing through the air. Families huddled in their living rooms in front of single pane picture windows that bowed and exploded in gusts of wind. Homeowners ventured outside as the winds howled, determined to prop up and protect trees, patios, roofs and antenna, often in vain, and at great risk.


Photograph of Kelso Airport in Southwest Washington Courtesy of the Cowlitz County Historical Museum, Kelso, Washington.

In hindsight, much of the behavior at the height of the 1962 Columbus Day Storm was naïve, impulsive and ill-advised. But the residents of the Pacific Northwest had no frame of reference, no experience to guide their actions in the face of an unprecedented and deadly windstorm.

Dr. Ralph Crawshaw, a Beaverton, OR.-based psychiatrist in 1962, studied the reactions of different age groups of storm survivors. He found that young children in the absence of a parent exhibited very little fear.

Walter Breitenstein was an eight-year-old walking home from school southeast of Salem, OR. that Friday afternoon as the winds at his back roared. “I leaned backward, spreading my coat open, making a little hop and the wind carried me effortlessly. It was like I was flying.”

He flew past his house, but was brought back to earth by the powerful sight of his neighbor’s livestock watering tank as it flew through the air and crashed into a nearby fence. “I decided I better go home,” he recalled.






Photograph of a crushed car in Portland. Courtesy of Oregon Historical Society.


Teenagers and young adults as a group confronted the storm head-on, shielding themselves with a sense of immortality. At the heavily-wooded University of Oregon campus in Eugene, students gathered outside in an excited group, enjoying the spectacle of the storm as trees fell all around them and power lines glowed with short circuits. Many teenagers hopped in their cars at the height of the storm to visit friends or witness the damage in their neighborhoods. “There was much socializing in this age group, for the exhilaration needed to be shared,” Crawshaw said.

Crawshaw found numerous examples of adults trying to protect their property as the storm raged. Bill and Carolyn Baker were living in north Seattle, WA. She was nine months pregnant when the storm struck. At the peak of the storm, her husband climbed on the roof to reattach the television antennae. “I was terrified that my husband would be blown off the roof and killed, and my child would be fatherless,” she said 40 years after the storm. Baker survived, but Lawrence Parrie, who was stationed by Sand Point Naval Air Station in Seattle, was the victim of tragic irony. He waited until the storm had passed Saturday morning to climb on the roof of his three-story barracks to repair a TV antennae. He slipped and fell to his death.

The storm struck the Portland, OR. region just as Friday night commuter traffic was beginning to build. Commuters heading home would have been better served riding out the storm at their workplace, Crawshaw noted. “However, they undertook harrowing trips home through flying debris, driving over downed high-power lines and searching out devious ways to get through the roads blocked by fallen trees,” the psychiatrist said.

After collecting hundreds of storm survivor stories to help shape “A Deadly Wind: The 1962 Columbus Day Storm,” I had this reoccurring thought: It’s a wonder more people weren’t killed or seriously injured."



Find A Deadly Wind here

John Dodge was a columnist, editorial page writer, and investigative reporter for the Olympian before retiring in 2015 after an award-winning career spanning forty years. Dodge is a veteran of natural disaster reporting, including the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens, the 1989 Bay Area earthquake, the 2001 Nisqually earthquake, and numerous damaging windstorms and floods. He experienced the Columbus Day Storm as a young teenager and wrote about the storm at its twenty-fifth, fortieth, and fiftieth anniversaries. He lives in Olympia, Washington, with his wife, Barbara Digman.





November 1st, 2018

Today we’re inviting you to join Peter Nathaniel Malae as he travels to bookstores and literary centers reading passages from his new novel, Son of Amity. Peter has been a featured reader at Powell’s Books on Hawthorne and Third Street Books in Salem among other bookstores.



In this new novel by Peter, a family is caught in the crossroads of violence and loss in the small town of Amity, Oregon. Sissy, Michael, and Pika share a run-down house in Amity and must contend with their individual demons in a region plagued by poverty and addiction. Peter deals with dark subjects in Son of Amity with a steady gaze that also admits the moments of light and redemption.


Take a (virtual) seat in the crowd as Peter reads from Son of Amity and paints a picture of the town in which his story takes place:


“Poor, white people lived down here. Undernourished, overfed, jobless white people. HHS-invested white people. Gelatinous-spined, weighed down stooping from Ding Dongs and Swanson’s TV dinners white people. For all he knew, he could have been in the West Virginia Appalachians, the Arkansas Ozarks. Strings of spat Cope on the lawn, rusting tractors posted up in gravelly driveways. A trampoline with duct-taped springs and grips sitting on the fenceless divide of shared property lines, dozens of plastic toys scattered across the yards like miniature tornado towns post-blast, spotted beards of clumpy moss uprooting the tiles of rooftops. The white people were out there on the dipping, slanted, paint-chipped front porches, ass-planted on cushion-smashed chairs like toads on a rotting log. The chronically obese and tweaker-thin were both watching him come into their town without connection or invitation or permission, suspicious brown man in a beanie up to no good in his beat-up truck from post-war Japan. Fifteen miles an hour the legal cap, car show investigation of anyone entering the town limits.”




“He wasn’t sure how he felt about what he saw. He knew being poor, but this was a different kind of poor, maybe even a worse kind. Seemed stagnant around here, like he was driving through a time warp, the people sitting in their own shit. In the city, everyone was moving on poverty. Sidestepping it, passing it on, lugging it across a borough for deposit.”



Take a look at our literary calendar and make sure you save the date for his upcoming readings --Peter will be reading at the Salem, OR Book Bin on Friday November 2 at 7 PM, and will be participating in a pop-up reading at the Portland Art Museum during the Portland Book Festival on Saturday, November 10!




Peter Nathaniel Malae is is the author of the novels, Our Frail Blood and What We Are; the story collection, Teach the Free Man; and the play, The Question. A former Steinbeck, MacDowell, Arts Council Silicon Valley, and Oregon Literary Arts Fellow, Malae lives in western Oregon.

Reviews of Son of Amity:

"From the farthest, wettest corner of war-damaged America, Peter Nathaniel Malae brings us the story of a family bound by a shared history of violence, and liberated by the miracle of shared mercy. Written with immense intellect and swagger, Son of Amity imbues the street-level realities ofour times in our cities, towns, prisons, and psyches with the power of myth."  Jon Raymond, author of Freebird and The Half-Life

"This is a tough, haunting, compelling bookone that deals withour society now, with violence and poverty and identity and the very real consequences of being in the crosshairs of war. What a marvel the language is, too. Every sentence is carefully built. Malae ia a powerhouse of a writer." Pauls Toutonghi, author of Dog, Gone and Evel Knievel Days


October 26th, 2018

 In 2016, armed militants took over the Malheur National Wildlife refuge in HarnePeter Walkery County, Oregon. For forty-one days, they seized the headquarters of the refuge and for three months, they occupied the community led by Ammon Bundy and Ryan Bundy. This month, Oregon State Press published Peter Walker’s Sagebrush Collaboration, the first book-length study of this militant take over. In Sagebrush Collaboration, Peter Walker contextualizes and researches the take over as well as considers the future of America’s public lands. Today on the blog, Walker provides an update about the Bundy's anti-federal revival tour, political ambitions and Harney County efforts to rebuild community.


Sagebrush CollaborationBooks have a beginning and an end, but the story that I attempted to tell in Sagebrush Collaboration began well before the events of January 2016, and continue to the present day.

In reality, there were two stories. The one I felt most important to tell—the one that virtually all media reports at the time ignored—was about Harney County’s success in building collaboratives that, in the words of one prominent local rancher, “inoculated us from the Bundy disease.” That story can be dated to the late 1990s and the early 2000s, when local ranchers, federal managers, the Burns Paiute tribe, environmentalists and others decided to try cooperative approaches to solving long-standing problems. That effort paid off handsomely when the Bundy family arrived. The Bundys offered solutions based on armed confrontation with federal authorities; but the community had their own solutions—ones built on principles of collaboration. The collaborative approach won, and quietly continues today. I continue to follow it.

The other story—the one that got almost all the headlines, then and now, was about the radical vision and strategy offered by the Bundy family. As it happens, my book ended at almost precisely the time when the Bundy movement shifted to a new phase. I turned in the first draft of Sagebrush Collaboration on December 18, 2017. With the generous permission of my editors at Oregon State University Press, before the book went to print I was able to update a few key events that occurred in early 2018. The most significant of these was the dismissal, on January 8, 2018, of all charges against the main figures in the 2014 armed Bunkerville standoff, due to mishandling of evidence by federal prosecutors.

Immediately, the newly-freed members of the Bundy family publicly declared that their fight was only just beginning. That declaration sent shivers down the spines of those of us who witnessed the trauma of the occupation of Harney County in 2016. What, exactly, would the Bundy family, now elevated to the status of near-mythic Goliath-slaying western heroes, do?

The obvious concern was that the Bundys would initiate new armed confrontations. After all, the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016 was a direct follow-on from the 2014 standoff at the Bundy Ranch in Nevada in 2014. The Bundys were clearly looking for a way to leverage their success in facing down federal authorities at Bunkerville into a broader anti-federal government movement. Although they failed in 2016 to transfer the Malheur Refuge to local control or ignite a wider anti-government movement, the Bundys gained extraordinary fame and public attention. Those of us who met the Bundys and understood the depth and passion of their anti-federal government ideology had no doubt that, once freed, they would attempt to leverage their greatly enhanced fame into further anti-federal government actions.

Ammon Bundy Stage

To date those actions have not included further armed confrontations—though many of us who have followed the Bundy story closely continue to believe that such confrontations are almost certainly only a matter of time. Instead, for the moment the Bundy family appears to be investing their energy in building a wider base of public support for anti-federal actions.

Whatever one thinks of the Bundys’ political ideology, there is no disputing their industriousness and talent for promoting their cause. On January 20, 2018, less than two weeks after all federal charges against the Bundys were dismissed, patriarch Cliven Bundy (wearing a “Not Guilty!” lapel button) and his son Ryan Bundy spoke to a large crowd in Paradise, Montana. Cliven challenged Montanans to “act like you understand the Constitution.” That is Bundy-speak for resisting federal authority. Notably, this first major public speaking event for the Bundy family after the dismissal of charges against them was organized with support from Montana State Senator Jennifer Fielder, the CEO of the American Lands Council—a group that promotes the transfer of federal public lands and is supported by billionaire anti-federal activist brothers Charles and David Koch. The Montana event was the first of many in which the Bundy family, with support from the wealthy and powerful, would spread their anti-federal gospel.

On their 2018 anti-federal revival tour, the Bundys’ message took on a darker and more overtly religious tone. On April 22, I attended an event in Modesto, California, sponsored by oil tycoon Forrest Lucas’ organization Protect the Harvest, at which Ammon Bundy accused the federal government of being controlled by environmentalists whom Bundy described as “enemies of humans” and of God. Bundy specifically and repeatedly called out by name one specific environmentalist leader, who he accused of worshipping “Baal,” a false god in Bundy’s view. Calling out a specific environmental leader as an enemy of humans and God appeared to invite violence against that individual—after all, one knows what to do with enemies of God. The concern is real, given that in 2014 two Bundy supporters at the Bunkerville standoff gunned down two police officers in Las Vegas, pinning a note on one of the bodies declaring the murder “the beginning of the revolution.” If not intentional invitations to violence, the Bundys say nothing to discourage such ideas among their more unstable supporters.

Hints of violence have been present in almost all of the speaking events by Cliven, Ammon, and Ryan Bundy in 2018, consistent with the unofficial but explicit Bundy family motto, to do “whatever it takes” to achieve their anti-federal political goals. On May 26, 2018, I attended a speech by Ammon Bundy in Yreka, California—home to the anti-government State of Jefferson movement—in which Bundy encouraged supporters to “stand” in defense of their water rights not in the courts but “there at the diversion.” It was an echo of the events of the early 2000s when angry farmers whose irrigation water had been shut off used chainsaws and blowtorches to seize water in the Klamath River that had been reserved for endangered salmon and local tribes. When a local organizer introduced Ammon Bundy to the Yreka audience, she recounted a conversation with Bundy by phone in which he agreed to come only if anti-government locals were “ready to stand”—meaning ready for civil disobedience. In the Bundy worldview, civil disobedience is all but synonymous with armed civil disobedience.

Bundy Flag

What is most powerful in each of the Bundys’ public performances has been their remarkable and clearly intentional successes in tapping into and stirring up strong emotions. There is no shortage of anti-federal government sentiment in the rural American West. The Bundy family, however, have become masters of transforming long-simmering grudges into a near-frenzied emotional state. At almost every speaking event in 2018, Ammon Bundy, for example, took out various military medals, flags, and uniforms given to him by ex-military supporters during the Malheur Refuge takeover. As Bundy takes out each item, he tells the tale of how veterans bestowed the gifts on him—which he declares that he did “not deserve.” In every instance, tears well up in Ammon Bundy’s eyes and his voice chokes up as he tells the stories. Invariably, tears flow down the cheeks of audience members as well. Tapping into the most potent symbols of traditional American patriotism, Bundy invokes the ideals of armed, patriotic heroism and transfers those ideals onto himself and his cause. And at every opportunity the Bundys invoke the blood sacrifice of slain Bundy supporter LaVoy Finicum—declaring Finicum a martyr for “freedom.” The call for further sacrifice in the cause of freedom is all but explicit.

Bundy Governor

While navigating toward the same goal of a federal-free, “sovereign” American West, Ammon Bundy’s brother Ryan has taken a different path—making himself an official candidate for the office of Governor of Nevada. It might seem a surprising choice; but not really. During the Malheur Refuge takeover in 2016, I heard Ryan Bundy specifically say that eliminating federal control in the western states cannot be achieved through conventional electoral politics because a single elected official will stand alone and will not be able to get the changes they want. Ryan Bundy is very smart, and it seems unlikely that he actually believes he is going to become governor. Like the Malheur takeover and the Bunkerville standoff, however, Ryan Bundy’s campaign for governor gives him a megaphone to speak to the public. More importantly, I fear that when Ryan Bundy inevitably loses his bid for governor, it will enable him and his family and supporters to say they tried to achieve their goals through conventional political channels. They will almost certainly claim the political system is rigged against them. That would “prove” to their supporters that further radical and potentially violent anti-government actions are necessary—that is, doing "whatever it takes."

Meanwhile, back in Harney County, the pioneers and innovators of non-violent, collaborative problem-solving approaches continue the unglamorous work of re-building community trust and relationships that can enable them to weather possible similar political disruptions in the future. Scholars, including myself, are seeking to understand how Harney County succeeded, and how the positive lessons from Harney County might be applied elsewhere. The ever-industrious Bundy family will no doubt refine their approaches as well. Which of these two stories prevails may literally decide the future of the rural American West.


Peter Walker studies the social factors that shape human interactions with the environment, with emphasis on the rural American West, and Africa. After the takeover of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in early 2016, Walker became almost a part-time resident of Harney County while writing this book. A native Westerner, Walker received his doctorate at UC Berkeley and has served on the faculty of the University of Oregon since 1997.


October 19th, 2018

Hello! Carolyn and Zoë here, writing to you from the OSU Press office!

As yearlong Griffis Publishing Interns, we contribute blogs weekly but before we take that blog wheel and drive, we’d like share a bit about ourselves and share what OSU Press books that interest us.


Zoë I’m in my second and final year at OSU’s MFA program and currently writing my thesis, which is a collection of short stories. In terms of reading, I enjoy strange and surreal stories, and hybrid forms. I also enjoy reading cultural criticism, literary criticism, and academic texts that focus on race, feminisms, disability and illness, gender and sexuality, and trauma. I’ve lived in Los Angeles, Santa Cruz, and Oakland, and am new to the Pacific Northwest. During my internship, I’m interested in learning how a small academic press functions, specifically in terms of marketing and editing. On my to-be-read pile are two OSU Press titles: R. Gregory Nokes’s Massacred for Gold and John Dodge’s A Deadly Wind. I’m currently listening to the audiobook of Robin Wall Kimmerer’s Gathering Moss.Massacred for Gold 


Massacred for Gold by R. Gregory Nokes: Nokes utilizes his historical research to tell a story of white supremacy and white terrorism in the American West. In 1887, more than thirty Chinese laborers were massacred by a white gang on Hell’s Canyon in Oregon. The murderers went free and, for more than one hundred years, this violent history was erased, until now. Barry Lopez writes that Massacred for Gold is “an act of citizenship as much as it is a commendable work of history.”


A Deadly Wind by John Dodge: While Los Angeles is known to A Deadly Windbe a temperate city with no weather, I became familiar with the Santa Anas and the stories shaped by these winds growing up in LA. Because I’m new to Oregon and interested in windy weather, I’m looking forward to reading John Dodge’s A Deadly Wind, which tells the history of The Columbus Day Storm of 1962 that had a devastating impact on the Pacific Northwest. Maria Ruth shares that “A Deadly Wind is part meteorology, part regional history, and part friendly warning to anyone who believes Pacific Northwest weather is all about rain and clouds.”


Gathering Moss


Gathering Moss by Robin Wall Kimmerer: Ever since I’ve moved to Oregon, I’ve fallen in love with moss; I love that way it glows bright green during endless grey days. While I’m curious and want to know more about moss, I wanted to find a book that was accessible and entertaining for the non-scientific reader and now I’ve found it in the form of an audiobook. The Gathering Moss audiobook is a collection of linked personal essays read by Kimmerer and perfect for a long drive.



My name is Carolyn Supinka. I’m in my second year of my MFA at Oregon State University where I am studying poetry. I’m interested in poetry as a way of asking questions of myself, of relationships, of memory, and of the world. As a visual artist, I create screen prints and ink drawings that blend my writing and visual work. I am learning letterpress printing, and I am really interested in experimenting with book arts, starting with broadsizes and zines. As an OSU Press intern, I’m looking forward to learning more about the world of publishing. I think it could be a bridge between my background in arts management and my interest in working with a writing community.

My OSU Press reading list:Force for Change

A Force for Change by Kimberly Mangun

I really want to learn more about Oregon history, so I’m excited to start learning about journalist and activist Beatrice Morrow Cannady. This is the first full-length study of the life and work of Cannady, who was a civil rights activist as well as a editor and publisher of Oregon’s largest African American newspaper. Cannady did so much work to advocate and protect her community, and to work towards better race relations in Oregon.

Hunger for High CountryA Hunger for High Country by Susan Marsh

Growing up on the east coast, I was in love with the forests that I explored throughout my life, and my love of being out in nature only grew when I moved to Oregon. I appreciated the areas of wilderness that I visited, but did not know very much about the history of the government organization connected to them. Susan Marsh’s story of working in the male-dominated US Forest Service during the 1960s and 70s is a fascinating profile of the Service, the relationship between people and the land, and struggles women face in patriarchal institutions.

Homing Instincts

Homing Instincts by Dionisia Morales

What does ‘home’ mean? Who can call a place home? Dionisia Morales explores the connections between identity and ideas of home in this beautiful collection of essays. I explore ideas of place, identity, and memory in my work, so I’m very excited to dive into Dionisia Morales’ writing, especially since she is an OSU MFA program alumnus.

October 8th, 2018

Indigenous People’s Day is a day to honor native communities: a day to honor indigenous history, survival, and culture, and to acknowledge the history of the United States as one formed through colonization and genocide.

In honor of Indigenous People’s Day, OSU Press Griffis publishing interns Zoë Ruiz and Carolyn Supinka share two recent press books on indigenous culture.

Zoë’s Pick: Native Space by Natchee Blu Barnd

Native Space


How do Indigenous communities and individuals sustain and create geographies within the boundaries of the settler colonial nation of the United States? How does this occur through place-naming, daily cultural practice, and artistic activism? Published less than a year ago, Barnd’s Native Space explores these questions through an interdisciplinary approach, draws on his experiences in Corvallis, and focuses on Midwestern Plain states of Kansas and Oklahoma.

In Native Space, Barnd argues that while “the Indian” and “Indianness” serve to create White space in concrete ways, Native geographies reclaim Indigenous identities, assert relations to the land, and refuse settler colonialism claims. I highly recommend Native Space to readers interested in comparative ethnic studies, indigenous studies, cultural studies, and cultural and critical geography.


Carolyn’s Pick: Legends of the Northern Paiute as told by Wilson Wewa, with James A. Gardner

Legends of the Northern PaiuteI love legends, so I was interested in Legends of the Northern Paiute as soon as I saw it on the shelves here at the OSU Press offices.

This book shares origin stories like the creation of the human people, why the rat’s tail has no fur, how the stars got their twinkle, and why Coyote howls at the sky. The stories are written in the conversational style in which they are traditionally told in Paiute communities during the winter storytelling season in the Great Basin.

Wilson Wewa first encountered these legends as a child when they were told to him by his grandmother, Maggie Wewa, and other tribal elders. In this book, Wewa, a spiritual leader and oral historian of the Warm Springs Paiute, shares twenty-one previously unpublished legends.

Wewa, along with collaborator James Gardner, recorded these stories from in-person recollections and edited them out loud so as to remind readers how these stories were originally told: out loud and in community with others.



From mapmaking practices in Kanaka Hawai‘i Cartography to the uses of myrtlewood in Ethnobotony of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, OSU Press publishes books that promote education and scholarship on indigenous culture.  Take a look at our website for a full list of OSU Press books on indigenous studies.

We hope you pick up one of these titles to celebrate and study indigenous culture any day of the year.

October 2nd, 2018

Today we are joined by guest blogger Matthew Svoboda, Director of Choral Activities at Lane Community College. As part of a project called "The Room Upstairs," Matthew has been scoring original music inspired by the poetry of Hazel Hall. Together with photographer Laura Glazer, he recently visited the Northwest Portland home of Hazel Hall, where she spent much of her life confined to a wheelchair. Tag along, and peek inside...


Finding the Room Upstairs: A Visit to Hazel Hall's Home

By Matthew Svoboda, Director of Choral Activities, Lane Community College

This summer my friend Laura Glazer and I had the chanMatthew Svoboda in front of the Hazel Hall house in Northwest Portland. A “poetry garden” and memorial to Hall are next to the historic home.ce to visit with Neale and Trish Langman who have made their home at the Hazel Hall house in Portland. I had long been curious to see where Hazel Hall had lived and written and was so pleased that Neale and Trish were open to a visit. Our visit was prompted by a sabbatical project I am currently working on with Laura and several other collaborators. The project, entitled The Room Upstairs: Uncovering the Life and Poetry of Hazel Hall, will result in new, original music composed for dance and will premiere during Collaborations 2019* at Lane Community College in March 2019. The music and dance unfold in three movements titled after Hall's three books of poetry: Curtains, Walkers, and Cry of Time.

I scored the piece for cello, violin, and piano and mapped it to the larger themes of each volume of poetry. CurtaiA street-level view of the second floor windowns includes an entire section of poems devoted to the subject of sewing and needlework and to the physical attributes of her interior space. The music unfolds slowly and introspectively. I specifically chose cello to be the featured voice of this movement because its melancholy timbre recalls the elegiac feeling of Hall’s poetry and the bowing motion suggests the motion of sewing. Walkers is largely addressed to the various people whom Hall viewed from her second story window as they walked by her house. Here the music picks up tempo and becomes more interactive, with themes being traded between instruments that also shift roles as the music unfolds. And Cry of Time, published posthumously, speaks to transcendental themes, with poems that touch on Hall's reckoning with her own mortality, the limits of her art, and the solidarity she felt with other women. The music for this movement begins in anguish but progressively moves to resolution. The initial theme from Curtains returns but in a transformed state. After its presentation, it gradually ascends in a dance-like interplay that brings the work to its final close.

Many years earlier, I became intensely interested in the poet Hazel Hall when I came across a poem of hers, Maker of Songs, in Cracking the Earth, the Second Floor Window25th Anniversary edition from Calyx, published in 2001. The poem attracted me immediately because of its use of musical metaphor. A short bit in the back told me a little about her--that she was "confined to a wheelchair for most of her life" and that she “spent her days doing needlework, viewing the physical world through a window and a small mirror propped on her windowsill, and writing poetry that transcended her circumstance.” As I was curious to learn more, I reached out to John Witte who had edited The Collected Poems of Hazel Hall and included his own fine introduction about her life and work. John and I talked about Hazel Hall over a nice meal together, which furthered my interest and curiosity. I began to research whatever I could find about Hazel Hall at the University of Oregon library and later paid a visit to her former home in Portland, but only to the outside. This was all many years ago, before life got busy with a new child, a new job, and the responsibilities of home ownership.

Seeing Hazel Hall’s former home first hand several years later was an illuminating experience. As might be expected, the house has changed since she lived in it up until her death in 1924. It is now divided into two separate residences, with Neale and Trish living in the part where Hazel had spent most of her days. There has also been some remodeling and updating to the entrance and kitchen, and carpet now covers the floor in the main room that faces the street. Yet, even so, artifacts and features of the house remain from her time--light fixtures, the lattice window, a room upstairs. Standing in the main room and looking through the lattice window, I could get a clearer sense of how Hazel might have done her needlework or gazed around her house or to the street below to find inspiration for her poems.

Trish and Neale Langman are the current tenants of the Hazel Hall HouseThe four of us conversed on many topics while visiting together and seeing their home. I came to learn that Neale and Trish, both artists, had moved into Hazel's home from New York City a decade earlier, sight unseen. Only later did they learn about Hazel Hall and her interest and background in sewing as a means to a livelihood. This was particularly intriguing because Trish, a textile artist, has made her studio in the room upstairs, which Hazel references in her poetry as a place she couldn’t visit. This room upstairs in turn became the inspiration for the title of our collaboration—a tribute to a remarkable poet who was also unseen as she gazed out at the world from her window.

For more information on The Room Upstairs: Uncovering the Life and Poetry of Hazel Hall, visit the project website: www.hazelhall.net.



*Upcoming Events:

The Room Upstairs: Uncovering the Life and Poetry of Hazel Hall
An evening devoted to celebrating the life and work of poet Hazel Hall through research, original music, and a new work for dance.
Thursday, February 28, 7:00 p.m.
Ragozzino Performance Hall (Building 6, Lane Community College, main campus)
Free admission

Collaborations 2019 is March 7-9 and highlights the original work of dance faculty, guest artists, and dance groups in our community in collaboration with musicians, videographers, and designers. Produced annually in Ragozzino Hall on the main campus of Lane Community College, Collaborations celebrates the many voices of dance in our community. More information will be available in late 2018 via the Hazel Hall project newsletter; sign up for it here.


July 5th, 2018

Today's guest blogger, author R. Gregory Nokes, muses on the legacy of Peter Burnett, an influential early Oregon pioneer and the first elected governor of California.


I’ve been wondering how Peter Burnett, dead these 123 years, would have reacted to my new book, The Troubled Life of Peter Burnett: Oregon Pioneer and First Governor of California. Would he hail it as a validation of a life of struggle, or denounce it as grossly unfair?

I asked myself this question after receiving a note from one of his descendants. She said after reading the book that she wished Burnett had been more successful in the many roles he played during his life.

The Tennessee-born Burnett had accomplishments, but they have been largely overlooked because of his more widely publicized failures, most notably as California’Photo of the author by Deston Nokess first governor in 1849-1851. He resigned before finishing his term in the face of widespread public ridicule for his anti-black policies and some tone-deaf decisions, such as changing California’s Thanksgiving observance from a Thursday to a Saturday, presumably for his own convenience.

He was ridiculed again for a pro-slavery ruling while serving on the California Supreme Court in 1858. The book also tracks his lack of success as a merchant in Tennessee and Missouri, and his resignation as the first captain of the 1843 wagon train to Oregon after just seven days on the trail. At first glance, there wasn’t much about which he could legitimately boast.

The reason I wrote the book was because I wanted to know more about this restless man, who seemed to be everywhere, running the fledging Oregon government, the new California government, serving on courts and legislative bodies in both places, gold-mining, leading wagon trains, building cities, and more, and not staying in any one position too long.

Indeed, in deciding on a title, I was tempted to use The Leader Who Could Not Lead, an apt description of Burnett’s successes and failures. A self-taught attorney, he was handsome, well-spoken and intelligent—people comfortably turned to him for leadership. But responsibilities seemed to overwhelm him, and he too often failed to deliver, disappointing many of those who supported him.

In later years, after finally retiring from public life, he found success as a banker and became deeply involved in the Catholic church.

We can’t know, of course, what Burnett would have thought about the book—he died in 1895. But my guess is he would have privately appreciated it, while publicly denouncing it.

After all, he’d been virtually forgotten by history. His portrait does hang with those of other governors in the California State Capitol in Sacramento. His name also appears on a frieze around the ceiling of the Oregon House of Representatives in Salem. But very little has been written about him in depth, either in Oregon or California. And what little is written, focuses on his racism, underscored by his dogged attempts to exclude African Americans from Oregon and Washington.

My book also focuses to a considerable degree on his racism, including such onerous policies as advocating whipping for blacks who refused to leave Oregon— remembered as “Peter Burnett’s Lash Law.” But there was more to Burnett than his racism, which, for someone raised in a slave-holding family, might be understood—if not forgiven.

The Troubled Life gives Burnett credit for his relentless campaigning for the first American governments in both Oregon and California, for helping organize the 1843 wagon train from Missouri to Oregon, and another wagon train from Oregon to California, and for his role in helping establish the city of Sacramento. Earlier in his career, while still in Missouri, he was one of the defense attorneys for Mormon leader Joseph Smith following the 1838 Mormon war.

But probably most important to Burnett, rather than any single accolade would be that the book recognizes his place in history. We know Burnett wanted recognition because he frequently boasted of his achievements, perceived or otherwise. Among notable exaggerated claims was that he fathered California statehood. “I believe I have a right to claim the responsibility of making the first public movement toward the formation of a state government,’’ he wrote a colleague, Samuel Thurston, in 1850.

He also claimed he headed off a possible attack on the 1843 wagon train, that he wrote most of Oregon’s first laws, and that he kept John Sutter out of bankruptcy, thereby saving Sutter’s extensive Sacramento Valley land holdings, including Sutter’s Fort. While Burnett tended to exaggerate, most of his claims had at least a kernel of truth.

My book, for better or worse, makes him somebody, rather than nobody. And Burnett, raised poor and living in the shadows of wealthy relatives, desperately wanted to be seen as somebody.

R. Gregory Nokes 

Photo of the author by Deston Nokes

June 26th, 2018

As Pride Month comes to a close, author Michael Helquist reports on some hometown pride that was a long time coming.




Although no organized LGBT community existed at the time on the West Coast, Equi lived openly with women in intimate relationships. In 1915 she and her lover, Harriet Speckart, adopted an infant together in what was one of the first occasions when a publicly known lesbian legally adopted a child.
Marie Equi had been little known in her hometown of New Bedford until the last few years. When I took my book tour to the city and to the greater Boston area, local enthusiasts asked why they had never heard of her.  I spoke at the New Bedford Public Library, the Rotch-Jones-Duff House & Garden Museum, and was interviewed on 1420 WBSM radio. I’m excited that Marie Equi is receiving more recognition in her home town and in Massachusetts and that the National Park Service has recognized her historical significance.
The Marie Equi exhibit continues through June.  The New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park office (with the exhibit) is located at 33 William Street, New Bedford; open from 9am to 5pm Sunday through Saturday, closed on Wednesdays. (508) 996-4095 for more information.
Michael Helquist
For the first time, the New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park of the National Park Service is recognizing LGBTQ Pride during the month of June.  The inaugural Pride exhibit features Dr. Marie Equi, the longtime agitator for social and economic justice who spent her early years, 1872 to 1892, in New Bedford along the southeast coast of Massachusetts. The exhibit, curated by Aneshia Savino, presents descriptions and photos of Marie Equi with five primary themes from her life as an Activist, Daughter, Doctor, Lesbian, and Mother. Participants at the exhibit’s opening night were offered pins with Equi’s likeness to wear.
Born in 1872 on Second Street along New Bedford’s famed whaling waterfront, Equi was the fifth child and fifth daughter of John Equi, and Italian immigrant from Tuscany, and Sarah Mullins, and Irish immigrant from County Tyrone, Ireland. Four additional children followed. She attended grade school in New Bedford but had to drop out of high school to work in local textile mills to help support the family. Equi later homesteaded in Oregon, self-studied her way into medical school, and became an early woman physician in Portland.
Equi was a strong advocate of women’s rights. She used her professional standing to help drive the campaign for woman suffrage. She also believed in reproductive rights and was jailed with birth control advocate Margaret Sanger for distributing pamphlets about limiting family size. Her passion for justice also led her to provide abortions to her patients. She protested unjust working conditions for laborers and aligned herself with the radical labor union, the Industrial Workers of the World.  She objected to World War I and lectured against unfair wartime measures.
May 29th, 2018

"Words Marked by Place" by Jarold RamseyIn his new book, Words Marked by Place: Local Histories in Central Oregon, Jarold Ramsey interrogates what “local history” is and how it is related to mainstream academic history. Through both theory and example, he presents a chronological collection of key episodes as well as the colorful but little-known events in central Oregon history, from nineteenth-century exploration to the railroading and homesteading era to the era of community-building and development that followed. Ramsey briefly discusses his philosophy of looking at history through a “zoom lens” below.


On March 24, 1944, a P-39Q "Airacobra" fighter plane crashed during a training flight, north of Madras, Oregon, killing its young pilot, 2nd Lt. Robert Cranston of Green Bay, Wisconsin. As a first grader coming home that day from our nearby country school, I was an eyewitness to the crash.

After the immediate horror of it subsided, I kept wondering, for years, who the poor pilot was, where he came from, and what had gone wrong with his flight that afternoon. When, over sixty years later, I finally did discover his identity and at least some details of the accident, I felt compelled to write out Cranston’s story as fully as I could for the record—and in the course of that work I decided that the essay would be part of a new book on Central Oregon history, a sort of follow-on to my New Era: Reflections on the Human and Natural History of Central Oregon (OSU Press, 2003).

But with a difference: along with further interpretive reflections on our region’s rich but largely unstudied history, I wanted to ponder self consciously the subject of local history itself. How does working with the history of particular places and homelands relate to researching and writing about history on a national or global scale? Involvement in local history—I had become very engaged in the doings of our Jefferson County Historical Society since moving home to Madras in 2000—occupies a lot of good people, I discovered, energetically doing a wide variety of worthwhile things in the name of history—not just scholarship and writing, but also museum work, archiving, re-enacting notable local events, organizing centennial programs, and so on. My perception that such work can be in its own way historically valuable, stimulating, and fun, and that most academic historians ignore it, or view it with disdain, whetted my intention to look sideways, theoretically, at what my friends and I were trying to do to preserve and celebrate our home country’s legacy.

Part of the challenge in trying to find meaning in what we call history, whether on the global, national, or local scale, is keeping in view both the forest and the individual trees; that is, maintaining as much as possible a sort of dialectical double focus on the material, using what I call a "zoom lens." In the case of the Airacobra crash, determining after more than half a century the details of Cranston’s death was certainly a challenge in itself. But to tell anything like the whole story, I came to realize, was going to require that I "zoom" my focus beyond just Madras Air Field in 1944 (and my childhood memories) out to what was happening then nationally—how the Army Air Corps was operating, how they were training their pilots, how small ancillary airfields like the one in Madras were supposed to function as parts of a larger military enterprise, and so on.

And conversely I persuaded myself that the story of what happened to Robert Cranston (and his fiancée in California and his family in Wisconsin) might, if I told it properly, add a small measure of concrete meaning and human value to historians’ big-picture efforts to show how the Air Corps operated during World War II. And beyond that, what the American war effort was all about. There is, I came to believe, some important truth-value in the truism "All history is local"; and if so, the proposition can cut both ways.

One other feature of Words Marked by a Place came out of this theoretical interest in my historical material. That is, I resolved to show what can be done with it in other than conventional, academic ways. So along with scholarly essays on early Central Oregon exploration, railroad-building, homesteading, the political origins of Jefferson County, and the like, I’ve offered (I hope usefully) an example of localized historical fiction, some dramatic renditions of local events in the form of skits (written for performance at various centennials in Madras and the county), and an attempt to gather and historically interpret distinctive localisms I grew up with. These are colorful words and expressions that may point to the evolution over more than a century of a Central Oregon dialect—in a phrase from William Carlos Williams that has become my book’s title, "words marked by a place."

I’d like to hope that the book itself, in its verbal dimensions, is expressively "marked" by the unique region whose histories it celebrates.

Member of AAUP