Monday, November 10, 2014

The View from The Empress

November 10, 2014 -- Over the weekend, RBM attended the Western Literature Association's annual conference, hosted this year by the University of Victoria's Department of English at The Empress hotel on Vancouver Island. Along with panels ranging from indigenous literature to borderlands criticism, the four-day gathering featured a celebration of Washington novelist Jim Lynch's Border Songs (2009).

On Saturday, RBM read from a nonfiction collage, "Once More to Aurelia," which WLA named runner-up for best creative writing submission. Back in March, RBM read from the same manuscript-in-progress at this year's Native American Literature Symposium (PDF). Here's a brief excerpt from "Once More to Aurelia," and this year's full list of WLA award winners. (Thanks to Frederick Manfred, and all the award committee members!)
At the big gravel lot, the office is locked but Judy has left my keys under the mat, with a receipt and sorry we missed you scribbled in blue. Three months of parking out here on the edge of nothing has cost $212, for which I'm grateful, but only after checking the windshield. The cab lost some paint to last month's hailstorm, but at least the glass held out. So has the battery, but just barely. I power down the windows. I give the engine some gas. I whisper a prayer of thanks to Judy, and then something small and yellow begins dive-bombing the windshield, filling the nothingness with a sound I haven't heard in 20 years. It's coming from the driver's side mirror. Giant yellow wasps—streaming from the housing, pouring into the cab, knocking themselves silly against everything that shines in the August heat.
      I paw at the console, forcing one window back up, the other down. The old motors groan, sucking down the last of the juice from the hood. It seems to take a whole minute, but finally there's glass between me and the nest. I can see it more clearly now, wrapped around my reflection on three sides, each muddy cavity pulsing with a tiny angry missile. More or less exactly the picture of the Badlands that I carry in my mind’s eye. Welcome, says the sign on 44.
Congratulations, one and all! See you next year in Reno

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


Join RBM, other creative writers at the University of South Dakota, and friends for a reading tonight at the Festival of Language, now in its sixth year, at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Seattle. RBM will open the off-site event at Rock Bottom, 1333 Fifth Avenue, at 5:00 p.m. Also on the roster: Anna March, Jenny Ferguson (also of USD), Leona Sevick, Koon Woon, Steve Halle, Margaret Rozga, Janèe J. Baugher, Wendy Vardaman, Karen Stefano, Midge Raymond, Kevin Allen, Thaddeus Rutkowski, Tom Bligh, Ken McPherson, Meg Tuite, Jane L. Carman (our fearless organizer), Robert Vaughan, Rebecca Goodman, Lily Hoang, Renee D’Aoust, Yuriy Tarnawsky, Holms Troelstrup, David Stevenson, Ewa Chrusciel, Derrick Harriell, Sara Henning (managing editor of SDR), Janice Lee, Martin Nakell, Debra Di Blasi, Len Kuntz, Daniel Nester, Alissa Nutting, Lance Olsen, Jonathan Penton, Lasantha Rodrigo, Michael Mejia, Bill Yarrow, Jen Knox, Su Smallen, Monica Storss, Joani Reese, Teniesha Kessler-Emanuel (also of USD), Holly Baker (also of USD), Kathryn Kysar, Kirk Nesset, Beth Gilstrap-Barnes, Brian W. Hedgepeth, Lee Goodman, and Christopher Allen. There's more information over at and

Saturday, February 08, 2014

Photo of the Day

February 8, 2014 -- The view from Portland, Oregon, and Day 3 of the winter storm few in Portlandia, not even William Riker, want to call "Orion."