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Arts & Letters

Arts & Letters
When the Beats Came Back
John Suiter
"In a plain gray archival box in the basement of Reed’s Hauser Library there lies a single reel of audiotape that captures a moment in the early life of one of the anthemic poems of the 20th century. The aging brown acetate clarifies an author’s voice, hints at a spirit, adds to the myth of two poets, and tells of a part Reed College played in the early days of the Beat Generation—before it was Beat, or yet a generation. The lid of the box is marked simply but evocatively with two names and a year:'Snyder Ginsberg 1956.' It has lain there, duly cataloged but unlistened-to, until this past spring, when I stumbled on it..." Also listen to the earliest-known recording of Ginsberg reading "Howl" at the Portland college. An extraordinary example of literary sleuthing at its best.– a grateful thanks and a link to Reed Magazine
Feb 27, 2008

Arts & Letters
Borat - Brilliant, Bad or Boring?
Nick Megoran
"This autumn saw Borat burst onto our film screens. Sacha Baron Cohen's spoof about a hapless Kazakhstani journalist crossing America in an ice cream van to marry Pamela Anderson has proved a huge hit in both America and Britain... What are we to make of the ludicrous tele-journalist who inadvertently transgresses numerous taboos of liberal America... ? Is it a clever satire deftly uncovering American prejudices, self-indulgent adolescent vulgarity, or just a plain laugh that should not be taken too seriously? Borat is an ambiguous film that can be interpreted in all these ways, but is that the most that can be said of it?" – a feature at
Dec 15, 2006

Arts & Letters
A Beautiful Darkness: An Interview with Artist Henk Pander
D.K. Row
"Henk Pander makes perhaps the most distinctive, strikingly beautiful paintings of any local artist, using his classically trained skills to paint a sublimely weird repertoire of images: awesome still lifes of World War II airplanes, chilling reinventions of his childhood during Nazi-occupied Holland, bone-strewn visions of the American desert and magnificently detailed renderings of the wreckage at ground zero." –with a thanks to Bill Nygren and a link to The Oregonian
Jul 26, 2006

Arts & Letters
Marlene's World
René Salm
This short story has the feel of a dream that is more real than daily life. Writer René Salm takes the ordinary moment and makes it extraordinarily focused. With a fine ear for dialogue he tells a compelling modern tale: "I was determined to end the conversation on a respectful note. Marlene was presenting a gradually more complex and strange puzzle. Perhaps it was a challenge, perhaps an invitation. I wasn't sure. Obviously, the pieces didn't fit in a normal way..." - a feature at
Sep 6, 2005

Arts & Letters
Art Honeyman Hits the Streets
Inara Verzemnieks for the Oregonian
"The Portland poet's adventures start in a wheelchair, spread over downtown and somehow involve a lots of hearts and minds along the way." This article at includes a poem of Art Honeyman's, "You're Damn Right We Will." It is worth while to read this web version of Verzemnieks's strong piece in spite of the obtrusive advertising and eleven pages. It is a fine salute to a fine living poet. -with a thanks to Bill Nygren
Aug 14, 2005

Arts & Letters
Black Beauty's Secrets: Anna Sewell and the Humane Treatment of Animals
Justine Hankins
Why has this little book survived so long and influenced so many? "Sewell was born in 1820 into a strict Quaker family, where she was instilled with values of charity and compassion as well as respect for the natural world... The words of John Woolman, a Quaker who preached across America in the 1700s, are a typical example: 'To say we love God and at the same time exercise cruelty toward the least creature ... was a contradiction in itself.' ... Religious conviction goes a long way toward explaining Sewell's perspective on animal welfare..." –a feature at West By and a thanks to Barbara Kelley, Justine Hankins and Best
Jul 21, 2005

Arts & Letters
Houses by the Side of the Road
Eckley Guerin
Ms. Eckley Guerin offers two very different kinds of poems, one a timeless period piece, a Northwest mirror about the complexities of domestic violence in a small coastal town in 1960, and the other, a lusty family legend of 1930. We welcome her to these pages. – a feature at
Jul 8, 2005

Arts & Letters
Reading Off the Charts: Earthworms Gone Bad
Amy Stewart
As part of our occasional series on Reading off the Charts, West By is honored to introduce readers to a remarkable book by garden writer Amy Stewart. She and her publisher kindly gave permission to excerpt a chapter of THE EARTH MOVED: On the Remarkable Achievements of Earthworms about the dark side of earth worms. There can be too much of a good thing: "Cindy (Hale) didn’t set out to study worms. She began her work as a forest ecologist, and in the process she and her colleagues noticed something changing in Minnesota’s forests. Ferns were disappearing, wildflowers had all but vanished, and young tree seedlings couldn’t take root. Forestry experts couldn’t figure out what was happening, but they knew the forest couldn’t survive without this critical understory of small plants. The understory was dying." - a feature at
Jul 8, 2005

Arts & Letters
Reflections from Mount Saint Helens
Darcy Cronin
"Twenty-five years after the 1980 eruption, poet-essayist Gary Snyder and ecologist Jerry Franklin will share experiences and writings from Mount Saint Helens, where both have deep personal histories, reflecting on themes of destruction and renewal, lessons from cataclysms, and the long term history and future of an iconic Northwest terrain. What do science and the humanities each contribute to understanding such places? And how does Mount Saint Helens inform its two million human neighbors' understanding of their place in nature?" –with a thanks to Roscoe, Wally and all the Hoedads who had a book of poems in their pockets, a feature at
Apr 29, 2005

Arts & Letters
Reviving the Spanish Shakespeare's "Fuente Ovejuna"
William S. Gregory
Playwright William S. Gregory and director Daneil Jaques translate and stage a "new" old play. Opening tonight in Portland, this 400 year old Spanish play receives new life and relevance: "Based on a true-life event during the ascension of Spain's Ferdinand and Isabel in the 15th century, 'Fuente Ovejuna' celebrates the universal human desire for freedom. A peaceful farming town in rural Spain is thrown into an uproar by an evil overlord. On a power trip for personal glory, El Comendador justifies his behavior by claiming privilege and divine authority. Fighting against this tyranny, the villagers of Fuente Ovejuna are forced to take drastic measures to reclaim their town from the greedy, power-starved ruler. In the face of overwhelming odds, the town unites to seize its destiny and create justice for its people." -thanks to the web notes of Teatro Milagro and a link to their Fuente Ovejuna info page
Apr 22, 2005

Arts & Letters
Poem: Child Burial
Paula Meehan
It could be a war, a bomb, a drought, a disease, a tsunami: a child is dead. This stunningly universal and beautiful poem of every parent's nightmare, the death of a child, is a personal journey to the molten core of sorrow. We are grateful to Patrick Morris for bringing this poem to our attention and to The Gallery Press, Ireland.
Mar 9, 2005

Arts & Letters
Poems: Shades of Loss
Mason, Bear, Nakamaro, Ramon and Garfield
Five poems for your consideration explore the theme of loss. The spring can be a haunted time.
Mar 7, 2005

Arts & Letters
Conversations with Artists: Michael Montfort Meditates with Paint
Jason N. Kamalie
In this occasional series we visit artists and their work: deceptively simple and amazingly complex, this Mountain View artist connects to his spiritual awareness to create: "This Michael Montfort, the friendly artist of the here and now, must be far-removed from the Michael of his military youth fighting under unimaginable circumstances. He speaks softly, laughs loudly, fiercely loves painting, and finds a spiritual rhythm not many people can plug into. Yet, looking at a few of his paintings, one wonders if Vietnam's darkness helped shape Montfort and his work. At least in one series of paintings, Michael manipulates the dark, and the stark." –a feature article at
Mar 4, 2005

Arts & Letters
Big Book, Small Press: "Looking for the Summer"
Bob Wake for Culture
We are pleased to introduce an author and a great web site: "Robert W. Norris’s 'Looking for the Summer' is a graceful autobiographical novel that breathes fresh life into a perennial genre: the spiritual bildungsroman... Although published prior to the events of 9/11, it is impossible to pick up Norris’s novel without a heightened interest in its vividly depicted locales in a part of the world where our attentions are now so intensely focused. Several fascinating chapters are devoted to David’s stay in Afghanistan. Written with a novelist’s eye for characterization and a reporter’s skill for observation,'Looking for the Summer' is the kind of small press gem that is often overlooked but is well worth seeking out." –with a link to, a wonderful web resource
Feb 11, 2005

Arts & Letters
A West By Northwest Holiday Reader
Wright, Diehl, Milo, Parker, DeDanan, Kemp, Schiel, Dix, Barton, Self, Ramon and others
Happy Holy Days. We are presenting a collection of some of our best Holiday offerings through the recent years online. We hope you'll enjoy these special, original features and feel that some things online are worth supporting, whether you donate or contribute a letter or article. We'll be back online January 4, 2005.
Dec 22, 2004

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