West Seattle Blog… | Books and pie! Before Wednesday’s WordsWest Literary Series ‘re-reunion,’ we chat with writers Katy E. Ellis and Susan Rich

(WSB Photo: LR, Katy E. Ellis and Susan Rich)

By Tracy Record
Editor of the West Seattle Blog

Do you like reading? do you like to eat cake There’s a place this Wednesday night that the trio of writers who have long produced the need to be WordsWest Literature Series “re-re-unite” to celebrate the latest books by two of them.

Katy E Ellis publishes her first full-length prose-poetry novel “Home water, home land.” Suzanne Reich recently released”Postcard and Card Gallery: New and Selected Poems‘, her fifth volume of poetry. They will be joined by their longtime WordsWest collaborator on Wednesday Harald Tau, who is currently co-writing a “steampunk musical”. The event begins Wednesday (September 28) at 7:00 p.m. at WordsWest’s longstanding venue. C&P coffee (5612 California SW; WSB sponsor).

There we recently sat down with Ellis and Rich to talk about their books and the challenges of being a writer right now:

First – Ellis, a former West Seattle man who now lives on Vashon Island, tells us about Home Water, Home Land: “My book is a mixed genre, the story of a young girl venturing into Canada and her own connection to Canada discovers God (while trying to wrestle with the religious patriarchy in her family… It’s called a prose poem, more like a novel-length poem, not all broken by lines… interwoven poems that tell a story… each can be for stand alone.”

She’s always enjoyed writing “small fiction…fragmented fiction…more of a slideshow story than lines drawn into a plot.” Her work also included writing “all different kinds of poetry,” and in fact, Home Water, Home Land is reminiscent of her scrapbook, Night Watch, winner of the Floating Bridge Press Book competition 2017.

Rich’s “Gallery of Postcards and Maps” is a collection of her first four books plus new work, making up about a quarter of the book. The West Seattle poet’s publishing career dates back to the turn of the millennium, but getting a book out now brings new challenges. She is aware of the fact that “in times of a pandemic, people don’t necessarily stroll through bookstores,” so writers need to find new and creative ways to promote their work, especially those who work with smaller independent publishers. “It’s always been subtly embraced, and now it’s the focus,” notes Rich.

Also Read :  Influential books: The 17th century Spanish book of proverbs recommended by the richest man in the world | Culture

She spent the beginning of last summer on a “fun… short book tour” in Ireland, the home country of the editor of her latest book, salmon press. The publisher’s location has created some distribution challenges, so in part she has ‘become my own distributor’, making sure copies are delivered to local independent shops like Pegasus Book Exchange in The Junction and Elliot Bay Book Company on Capitol Hill. Her fall program includes some readings in Boston, a former hometown.

“If we want our work to be read,” Rich concludes, they have to work hard to get potential readers to know about it. “These independent presses don’t have the power of the people” to promote authors without the active involvement of the authors, adds Ellis. Her five years of curating WordsWest — which brought writers to C&P once a month — helped hone those promotional skills, including “how to write and send out a press release.”

But both firmly believe that it’s all about reaching readers, not trying to generate them. “There’s still a real bookshop,” Ellis points out. “It’s very satisfying to hold a book in your hands, poetry in your hands.” She also reads on e-devices but says it’s just not the same. Rich says she’s a 100 percent non-digital reader.

Also Read :  Russian warplane crashes in residential area, killing at least 4 people and igniting massive blaze

As we chat, both reflect on what it’s like to return to readings after over two years in the uneventful heart of the pandemic. Rich recalls trying to view stay-at-home time as a “writing retreat” in the early days, leading to a lot of “pandemic poetry.” She also encouraged her Highline College students to write about it because “it was a historic moment.” “Gallery of postcards and cards” has two, in her opinion, “pandemic moments”.

For Ellis, it was a very different experience as she works in public health – specifically in the field of communicable diseases. It was a hectic time, “a lot of madness”, during which her working group had grown from 23 people to 181 at some point. She had to go to the office late while the rest of the world stayed at home. But when personal circumstances finally allowed her to work from home, “I wrote a large part of this book”. Her husband also worked at home and became a sounding board for the experiences that shaped her book; They had more opportunity for conversation and “quality time”.

Then WordsWest had its first “reunion” that May – and both Rich and Ellis say it was “emotional” to be face-to-face with readers and each other again. “I burst into tears and that’s not my style,” Rich admits. “This (C&P) was home to us, so I came in and looked at the stage, the place survived…we had a full house.” With the windows open, of course. (And with Ellis’ Aunt Barb from Poulsbo, who made the journey to see her niece.)

“Home” is a theme in both books. That’s evident from the title of Ellis’ Home Water, Home Land, but she goes on to describe it as “a theme of finding home, of belonging, of oneself and of a larger group… Some of it is written to my daughter, a Message for young women to have their own voice and not let anyone tell them what (they should believe)…You have every right to demand what that means for you and your power and for nobody else’s.” Her book also sheds light on “our connection to nature and the environment, how we are one”.

Also Read :  Beijing: Rare protest against China's Xi Jinping days before Communist Party congress

In Rich’s work, it’s “a common thread of the search for home,” along with a continuing theme of travel, as she “has a history as a human rights activist in West Africa and Bosnia. She was also inspired by surreal female artists “who have created community in outrageous and offbeat ways”. Both supported each other and competed against each other.

Support is also what WordsWest is all about. Ellis, Rich, and Taw started doing this as a way to encourage other authors and enjoy readings without crossing the bridge. “This is the first time we’re headlining!” They laugh. And in our conversation, Rich and Ellis are boosters for each other’s books. Rich describes both as “reader-friendly,” even if you’re not a poetry fan. “Katy’s book is very inviting and approachable.” Ellis uses the same word – approachable – for Rich’s book, along with noting his “humor…[it’s]very real and human, very relatable.”

“I couldn’t put Katy’s book down,” Rich explains. “I wanted to know what happens next.”

What happens next in this story is simple – you go to C&P on Wednesdays at 7pm, enjoy cake, meet and hear from the authors. You can also buy her books at the event. And invite your book-loving friends from outside the peninsula now that the bridge is open!

Source link