“I read it at a gallop, and didn’t want it to end.”
Madeline Miller, author of The Song of Achilles
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Just returning from the Associated Writing Programs 2015 conference in MPLS, where I successfully avoided many events I was duty-bound to attend in favor of reconnecting with a handful of the funniest, kindest and smartest folks I know: Peter Ho Davies and Lynne Raughley, Allyson Goldin Loomis and Jon Loomis, John Brandon, Molly Atwell…I also got to read to and hang with a bunch of undergraduate charmers at University of Wisconsin at Eau Claire, where people brave the slings and arrows of Scott Walker and fight the good fight for imagination and education. Also: coupla CRAZEE spider monkeys at the Como Zoo in St. Paul. Bumpy plane ride, but peaceful heart.
In a couple of weeks I’ll be in Wisconsin to give a reading in the excellent undergrad writing program at UWEC–that is, if Gov. Scott Walker hasn’t totally dismantled the state’s educational system by that time. I’m really looking forward to supporting the dedicated and talented faculty there–Allyson Goldin Loomis and Jon Loomis among them–who are fighting the good fight for the Wisconsin idea. Universities are not–or not only–meant to train workers: they promote an educated citizenry and the ideals of informed dissent, democracy, inclusion and enlightenment.
The Berlin airlift, a Japanese naval officer, Sir Francis Drake, rutabagas, a baseball player-turned-spy–just some of the fascinating details and characters that came up in my discussion of the writing of historical fiction and popular history in Manzanita, Oregon, last weekend. This completely adorable coastal town seems to attract intellectual people who’ve had one career and are operating full blast in another. And a big group of folks turned out for the evening reading, though they could have been spending the first Saturday of spring break walking on the beach under clear skies and a gleaming sunset, and they were such a smart, attentive audience. Sometimes I think, as my mother would say, “How did a little girl from the country get so lucky?” My thanks to Kathie Hightower and her comrades for inviting me.