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Author George Venn Shares Poetry Inspired by the Pacific Northwest

June 8, 2018

Author George Venn visited the University of Montana Western to read as a part of the “Dances with Words” series in the last installment of the academic year.

“Dances with Words” is produced by English Professor Alan Weltzien. The series, free and open to the public, provides the community with a unique opportunity to listen to writers reading their own works, including Montana Western student writers.

The event, held on April 26, 2018, was kicked off by Senior Nathan Eury, president of the Twisted Ink Creative Writing Club. Eury read the first chapter of his soon-to-be-finished novel “Our Last Days as Children.”

The story follows the protagonist Cameron as he struggles to find happiness in the Blue Ridge Mountains. In chapter one, he forms a kinship with the endangered red wolves of the region.

“He wonders what it’s like to stare down the finality of existence,” Eury read.

George Venn, one of Oregon’s most celebrated authors, then began his reading.

In 1988, his collection, “Marking the Magic Circle,” won an Oregon Book Award and a silver medal from Literary Arts; in 2005, the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission and the Oregon State Library selected it as one of the 100 best Oregon books in two centuries.

Venn read several poems from his new book “Lichen Songs: New and Selected Poems.”

On the collection, he said “This is the work of a lifetime. It won’t happen twice.” The book contains a range of poems written over a span of four decades.

Venn started by reading “High Cascades,” a poem the Oregon Zoo commissioned him to write.

“I had two months to write about lichen and the Cascade Crest,” he said. Once the poem was complete, it was etched into stone and displayed in the zoo.

Works by George Venn

Venn comes from a family of beekeepers and his poem “A Gallon of Honey in Glass” was written about a gifted jar of the family’s golden harvest.

“Thousands and thousands of shimmering lives have brought you love,” Venn read.

“Dances with Words” featured talented writers from around the country this year, including Pete Fromm, Ken Egan, Caroline Patterson, Aaron Parrett, Alan Weltzien, Francis Davis, David Abrams, and George Venn. From comedic tales to reflective poetry, community audiences were moved by this series of authors.

“Dances with Words” returns this fall to Montana Western with a brand-new lineup of writers for the 2018-19 academic year.

For more information about the “Dances with Words” series, please contact Alan Weltzien by email at [email protected] or call 406-683-7431.