The annual meeting of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) convenes here in Seattle this week. UW Press will be at the meeting, sharing booth 509 with our distribution partners, Lost Horse Press and Lynx House Press. If you’re attending the meeting, we hope you can come by and get to know our books and authors!
1:00 p.m. / Scott Elliott, Temple Grove: A Novel
Deep in the heart of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula lies Temple Grove, one of the last stands of ancient Douglas firs not under federal protection from logging. Bill Newton, a gyppo logger desperate for work and a place to hide, has come to Temple Grove for the money to be made from the timber. There to stop him is Paul, a young Makah environmentalist who will break the law to save the trees.
A dangerous chase into the wilds of Olympic National Park ensues, revealing a long-hidden secret that inextricably links the two men. Joining the pursuit are FBI agents who target Paul as an ecoterrorist, and his mother, Trace, who is determined to protect him. Temple Grove is a gripping tale of suspense and a multilayered novel of place that captures in taut, luminous prose the traditions that tie people to this powerful landscape and the conflicts that run deep among them.
2:30 p.m. / Kathleen Flenniken, Plume: Poems
2013 Washington State Book Award in Poetry / 2013 William Carlos Williams Award finalist
The poems in Plume are nuclear-age songs of innocence and experience set in the “empty” desert West. Award-winning poet Kathleen Flenniken grew up in Richland, Washington, at the height of the Cold War, next door to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where “every father I knew disappeared to fuel the bomb,” and worked at Hanford herself as a civil engineer and hydrologist.
The book’s personal story and its historical one converge with enriching interplay and wide technical variety, introducing characters that range from Carolyn and her father to Italian physicist Enrico Fermi and Manhattan Project health physicist Herbert Parker. As a child of “Atomic City,” Kathleen Flenniken brings to this tragedy the knowing perspective of an insider coupled with the art of a precise, unflinching, gifted poet.
3:00 p.m. / Nance Van Winckle, Pacific Walkers: Poems
Nance Van Winckel’s wry, provocative slant on the world and her command of images and ideas enliven these stunning poems. Presented in two parts, Pacific Walkers first gives imagined voice to anonymous dead individuals, entries in the John Doe network of the Spokane County Medical Examiner’s Records. The focus then shifts to named but now-forgotten individuals in a discarded early-1900s photo album purchased in a secondhand store. We encounter figures devoid of history but enduring among us as lockered remains, and figures who come with histories-first names and dates, and faces preserved in photographs-but who no longer belong to anyone.
The voice that brings us these poems is multifaceted–now a reporter for the Daily Sun, now a child, now a ghost, now historical, now autobiographical–always revelatory in its life force and urgent questioning. It is, finally, as fluid as the river that winds through, uniting these singular and unknown selves. Their worlds-and ours-intersect and flicker in this haunting book.
3:30 p.m. / David Biespiel, Charming Gardeners
The formally nuanced and wise epistolary poems in David Biespiel’s new collection are grounded in friendship, camaraderie, and the vulnerability and boldness that defines America.
Roving from the old Confederacy of Biespiel’s native South to Portland, Oregon, Charming Gardeners explores the wildness of the Northwest, the avenues of Washington, D.C., the coal fields of West Virginia, and an endless stretch of airplanes and hotel rooms from New York to Texas to California.
These poems explore the “insistent murmurs” of memory and the emotional connections between individuals and history, as well as the bonds of brotherhood, the ghosts of America’s wars, and the vibrancy of love, sex, and intimacy. We are offered poems addressed to family, friends, poets, and political rivals — all in a masterful idiom Robert Pinsky has called Biespiel’s “own original grand style.”
1:00 p.m. / Judy Bentley, Free Boy: A True Story of Slave and Master
Free Boy is the story of a 13-year-old slave who escaped from Washington Territory to freedom in Canada on the West’s underground railroad. When James Tilton came to Washington Territory as surveyor-general in the 1850s he brought with his household young Charles Mitchell, a slave he had likely received as a wedding gift from a Maryland cousin. The story of Charlie’s escape in 1860 on a steamer bound for Victoria and the help he received from free blacks reveals how national issues on the eve of the Civil War were also being played out in the West.
Written with young adults in mind, the authors provide the historical context to understand the lives of both Mitchell and Tilton and the time in which the events took place. The biography explores issues of race, slavery, treason, and secession in Washington Territory, making it both a valuable resource for teachers and a fascinating story for readers of all ages.
1:30 p.m. / Nancy Bartley, The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff: The Redemption of Herbert Niccolls Jr.
In 1931, a 12-year-old boy shot and killed the sheriff of Asotin, Washington. The incident stunned the small town and a mob threatened to hang him. Both the crime and Herbert Niccolls’s eventual sentence of life imprisonment at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla drew national attention, only to be buried later in local archives. Niccolls was finally released from prison in his early twenties. He went to work at 20th Century Fox in Hollywood, where he kept his secret for the rest of his long life.
The Boy Who Shot the Sheriff explores this little-known story of a young boy’s fate in the juvenile justice system during the bloodiest years in the nation’s penitentiaries. Journalist Nancy Bartley has conducted extensive research to construct a compelling narrative of the events and characters that make this a unique episode in the history of criminal justice in the United States.
2:00 p.m. / Dean Adams, Four Thousand Hooks: A True Story of Fishing and Coming of Age on the High Seas of Alaska
As Four Thousand Hooks opens, an Alaskan fishing schooner is sinking. It is the summer of 1972, and the sixteen-year-old narrator is at the helm. Backtracking from the gripping prologue, Dean Adams tells how he came to be a crew member on the Grant and unfolds a tale of adventure that reads like a novel–with drama, conflict, and resonant portrayals of halibut fishing, his ragtag shipmates, maritime Alaska, and the ambiguities of family life.
Four Thousand Hooks is both an absorbing adventure tale and a rich ethnography of a way of life and work that has sustained Northwest families for generations. This coming of age story will appeal to readers–including young adults–interested in ocean adventures, commercial fishing, maritime life, and the Northwest Coast.