Central Oregon Book Project – The Idea

It was in a writing workshop session with Lynell George – a stunning journalist based in Los Angeles – where the thought first formed.

It was a workshop about place. I am a person who wrestles with any kind of change, and I was often writing about change to explore resolution and meaning and possibility. I was writing things like this, and posting things like this, exploring ways that we can share, listen, and consciously create our community together through place.

In the workshop, we sat on the floor leaning against pillows in a big yurt near the ocean. Lynell was talking about place. Excerpts from my notes:

– Sense of place for moving a story forward

– Don’t waste that space with something that doesn’t tell me anything

– Place is complex – texture and feel

– Another layer of story

– Memory that is so vivid, you feel that it is your own

Each angle is composed within nature’s eye. I look here and moss drips from the trees, I look there at the unfamiliar pattern of a spider’s web hanging from edges of branches. The small orange flower snuck into the waves of green leaves by the step – do less, change is small. When it’s too big we hold our breath.

– Space – hold space – create a space and world for the reader, for things to return to them

– How relationship to place changes

– What happens w/ change – take out the emotion

– Explore – shifting and changing, feel the shifts

– While people think they know – do they really – all the perspectives

– Keep looking, keep looking

– Thank you for input words thoughts questions

 

The workshop was over. I waited to be the last one to walk back with Lynell up the road, and ask her thoughts about writing through place and change.

Somewhere along the line – I can’t recall if it was the walk by the trees and the ocean, or if it was sitting on the earth in the Big Yurt – that I realized that place is not just a single voice and is not just mine. It is many voices, many perspectives, many timelines, many epochs, many feet on the ground and many breaths in the air and many words spoken. It is all of us. It is personal. It is one.

And, I thought: this grappling of me finding love in change of place/home, it is not only me. It is us. It is all of us.

All over the world, which starts here.

Our stories, about our connection to Central Oregon, through our voices.

Thus, the idea for Central Oregon Book Project was born.

 

 

Stacking Wood

Find the thin leather gloves

Slip them over hands

Step onto the rotting porch boards

Push open the gate-that-sticks

With the side of body

Walk to the pile of wood

Lift the tarp’s corner and peek.

Take a breath

Bend over and lift the logs

Testing for weight, for shape, selecting

To cradle in arms the cracked

Dry

Wood

The peeling bark

Rings exposed

Juniper, Pine, Oak, Fir

Walk back on the porch

to the hollowed spaces

 

*Gratitude to Irene Cooper, beautiful poet and teacher of Introduction to Poetry class for Central Oregon Community College Continuing Education