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Four local authors join for the belated book launch

Editor’s Note: Editor Heather Spaulding is the daughter of one of the authors of this article, Nancy McDonnell Spaulding.

Local authors Tara Mesarich McMahon, Boyd Pratt, Nancy McDonnell Spaulding, and Gary Thompson will read their latest works at San Juan Grange on September 8 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. increase. A Belated Book-Book-Book-Book Release is co-sponsored by the San Juan Island Library and the Griffin Bay Bookstore.

“We were billed for a significant delay in the book launch because all four books were published during COVID,” Pratt said. It’s a launch, but we mainly want a celebration where we can share our work with our neighbors and fellow islanders.

Copies of each book will be sold at the event and refreshments will be served.

Pratt is reading his third and most recent book, Island Fishing: The History and Seascapes of Marine Fishing in the San Juan Islands Surrounded by the Salish Sea.

In researching and writing the book, Pratt said that while it may sound “obvious,” it is often surprising that being surrounded by water really is an essential feature of islands. .

“I had to shake the (unfounded) premise that land matters and look to water,” Pratt said. The importance of the Salish Sea, as well as island life, came to his attention while researching a book.

“First and foremost was the centrality of San Juan in terms of the Salish Sea as a geographical, environmental and cultural concept,” Pratt said. “For example, many, if not most, of the salmon in the Salish Sea and far north in Alaska spend some time in San Juan.”

The depressing aspect, Pratt adds, is that people have known about overfishing since European-American contact and settlement so much that even the Washington State Fish Commission warned of salmon depletion in the early 1900s. be.

“We have known it all along, but primary resource mining has a heart (interest) of its own…how much more do we know and learn about the Salish Sea ecosystem? I realized,” he said. “One of the main resources for researching this book is government reports on fisheries, which have grown rapidly in recent years in both range and depth. We can act better.”

Mesalik MacMahon’s journey into the world of written language began as a child. “I always loved reading poetry. Ever since I was a kid, I loved the way poetry made me feel,” she said. , a college professor pushed me aside and encouraged me to keep writing, and now, decades later, I’m doing it again.”

Mesalik MacMahon recites her first book of poetry, Barefoot Up the Mountain. She notes that although this is her first book-length collection, many of these poems have been previously published online and in print magazines and have been published in Poet Lore, Nimrod International, Dogwood and Red Hen Press. New Moons”, he added. Mesarich McMahon has not shied away from her lengthy writing, publishing her second book of poetry, Wings & Danger Bones, and a children’s chapter book, The Closet of Dreams. I’m here. -Co-authored with her brother Mark Ukla and illustrated by Friday Harbor artist Donna Dyer.

“Poetry is a very personal experience for both the writer and the reader or listener,” Mesarich McMahon replied when asked what attendees could expect from her reading. Attendees will hear many fresh ideas and images, but I cannot predict what someone will receive from my poems, and I hope the attendees enjoy some pleasant surprises.”

Speaking of surprises, when asked if there were any surprises that he learned in the process of writing “Barefoot Up the Mountain,” Mesarich McMahon replied: It always amazes me what emerges on the page during the writing process. My favorite quote is from Robert Frost. For me, this letting go and not controlling the outcome is what makes writing and revising poetry so much fun. ”

Like Mesalik MacMahon, writing has always been a part of Thompson’s life. “I can’t remember a time when poetry wasn’t fun to listen to or read. I think that’s probably true for most kids,” he said. “Somehow, I never learned to stop enjoying them. By age 15, I was writing poetry regularly in my study room. , and eventually went on to graduate school at the University of Montana, where she earned an MFA in Creative Writing.

Thompson has been teaching at CSU’s Creative Writing Program in Chico for nearly 30 years and continues to teach winter poetry workshops for groups of island poets. He recites from his sixth collection of poems, “Broken by Water: Salish Sea Years.” “Broken by Water” is a finalist in the 2022 Washington State Book Awards for Poetry. The winner will be announced on his September 13th.

According to Thompson, the poem took about 20 years to complete and accumulated slowly. “While each one was written and revised, there were surprises, but the books accumulated at such a slow pace that it was easy to incorporate those surprises,” says Thompson, referring to the early continued to tell the story behind one of his poems. Grave. “He and his wife were new to the Northwest, lived in Port Orchard, and were frequent visitors to Chief Seattle’s grave in Suquamish.” “I came across this poem while walking my dog ​​in the morning,” Thompson said. It’s still one of my favorites.”

After a long career in the visual arts, McDonnell Spaulding switched mediums to the written word and wrote Home in an Island Garden.

“What began as a journal and snippets turned into a memoir, and all of the additional nature notes seemed to come together as a book,” says McDonnell Spaulding. The story unfolded before her eyes as she watched, and interspersed throughout these written works were her art, the “blue-eyed grass of Iceberg Point,” Some of the famous landscapes such as “All grass and sheep on the road”, “Clouds across the water” are included.

Island Garden House begins with the Spaulding family’s move to San Juan Island in 1978 and reflects on her garden observations as her art career developed.

“The island is attractive to creative people from all walks of life because of its beauty, its remote location, and its ever-changing nature as it is surrounded by water and tides,” said McDonnell Spaulding. “It is the great mystery of such places that makes them such paradises of contemplative thought.”

According to McDonnell Spaulding, the four writers had known each other for several years through writer groups and the island community, but decided to band together after the book’s late release.

“I thought it would be festive and fun for island writers to present together. Depictions of island life are the dominant commonality in our writing,” she said.

Photo contributed by Nancy McDonnell Spaulding Nancy McDonnell Spaulding