Erin Hollowell: A Family Affair

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One month. I’ve been Executive Director of 49 Writers for one month. During that time, I’ve been tasked with updating our database. Transferring the information from one donor management software that was no longer available into another. It doesn’t sound like a sexy job does it? It doesn’t sound like a lot of fun, spending hours mapping fields, shaping data? … Read More

Kaylene Johnson: All in the Family

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  Memoir is a tricky business because there’s always someone in the family who doesn’t want the story told and others whose recollections don’t line up with your own memory. To write from personal experience can feel like working your way through an emotional minefield. As Anne Lamott so aptly described in her book about writing, Bird by Bird, “your … Read More

Kaylene Johnson: Unraveled

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Kaylene Johnson The weight of gravity presses me into my seat as the plane lifts off the ground. As the 737 banks over the Columbia River, pelicans wing low over the gray water. I am thinking about what it must be like to unlearn everything you’ve ever known. My father has Alzheimer’s disease and as the spool of his life … Read More

Teresa Sundmark: Mushrooms, Mycelium and Writing

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  Something about this winter, with its warmer than average temperatures and its lack of snow, has me thinking about gardening earlier than usual. Maybe it’s because the raised garden beds in my back yard are not hidden from sight, which typically allows me to stop thinking about them for several months at a time. In any case, while I’m … Read More

Teresa Sundmark: Tricky Writing

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I sometimes have a hard time sitting down to write, but I’ve found a few tricks to help get me going. My first trick is taking notes. When I sit down to write I worry about sounding good for an audience. You know, the audience. The people who will read my words and judge whether or not I’m making any … Read More

Teresa Sundmark: A Violent Wind

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I heard my Granddad tell the story four separate times. One evening when he was sixteen years old my Granddad, Clarence Acree, (nicknamed Sonny at the time) was at his Uncle Bill’s house in Sayre, Oklahoma. It was late in the day, well after supper, and they were sitting in the main room playing fiddle and guitar.  Maybe it was … Read More

Teresa Sundmark: In Defense of Blurriness

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Teresa Sundmark A while back, a photographer friend of mine in Colorado posted a few photos he’d taken of an elk he’d come across while hiking. Two of the photos were beautifully composed. Stock-photography ready, you could say, with the sunlight at just the right angle and the elk holding its majestic head high for the perfect profile shot. The … Read More

JT Torres: Conviction

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The altar for San Lazaro and Chango, the orisha who walks with San Lazaro. The desserts are left as offerings for both spirits. My research in Cuba is impossible. I can use physical descriptions to illustrate those who became possessed for you readers. I can describe a young man convulsing, his body contorted on a pair of crutches, his left … Read More

JT Torres: Forbidden Worlds

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Our host family gathered around the TV to watch Raul Castro announce the return of the Cuban spies, which would improve relations with the U.S. As my departure from Cuba approached, I experienced a sort of barotrauma, much like decompression sickness experienced by divers who resurface too fast. I needed to slowly ascend, slowly return to the world I’d left … Read More

JT Torres: En Trance

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The first ceremony of the week-long Festival de San Lazaro. We were sitting at a brightly lit café in a neighborhood in Colón. The dirt streets stretched into darkness in each direction. Maybe two houses were lit; the rest faded into the night sky glowing impossibly clear constellations. This was my first dinner in Cuba. I should have been thinking … Read More