The Acclaimed Jo McDougall Reads Nov. 28

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The Arkansas treasure Jo McDougall is returning to the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective, for which she’ll read at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 28, at Nightbird Books in Fayetteville.

Jo McDougall

Jo McDougall

McDougall’s most recent publications include the poetry collections The Undiscovered Room (Tavern Books, 2016) and In the Home of the Famous Dead: Collected Poems (University of Arkansas Press, 2015) and the memoir Daddy’s Money (University of Arkansas Press, 2011). Her poems have appeared in American Life in Poetry, Georgia Review, Hudson Review, Kenyon Review, Midwest Quarterly, New Letters, Toadsuck Review and others. She has received awards from the Porter Prize Literary Fund, the Academy of American Poets, and the DeWitt Wallace/Readers Digest fund as well as fellowships to the MacDowell Colony.

Her verse has been read a number of times on the long-running podcast The Writer’s Almanac with Garrison Keillor. She has been inducted into the Arkansas Writers Hall of Fame and recently was named honorary chancellor for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.

McDougall, a University of Arkansas alumna with an MFA from the Program in Creative Writing and Translation, lives with her husband, Charles, Zelda the dog and Spike the cat in Little Rock. She says she’s delighted to be coming home to Northwest Arkansas.

McDougall will be reading Nov. 28 from The Undiscovered Room, Daddy’s Money and new work from a poetry manuscript in progress, Stillness Falling Like Calamity.

The publisher’s page for the memoir notes: “Daddy’s Money recounts five generations of Delta rice farmers using family archives and oral histories to trace how the family made its way into the fabric of America, beginning with McDougall’s Belgian-immigrant grandfather, a pioneer rice farmer on the Arkansas Delta near DeWitt at the start of the 20th century.”

McDougall’s concise poetry is often narrative, the compelling storytelling reminiscent of her mentor the late Miller Williams but perhaps grittier. She told Writer’s Almanac, “I think a sense of place plays an important role in my poems. People’s stories tend to stay with me, and I admit to occasional eavesdropping. Memory plays a huge part in supplying me with subjects.”

This, the Collective’s last program of 2017, will feature as usual open mic opportunities, where audience members are invited to read their own work or that of others, with a timed 4-minute limit. The program is free, while donations are accepted. The Collective welcomes all ages but with this caution: Mature language and themes. Nightbird Books is at 205 W. Dickson St. The OPWC can be found online at ozarkwriters.wordpress.com.

We’ll see you again at Nightbird on Jan. 30, 2018.


Teen’s Quest Focus of Novel by Zan Jarvis

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Area Writer Reads Oct. 31 from New Book for OPWC

Jacket art of "River and the Lost" by Zan JarvisLongtime Northwest Arkansas writer Zan Jarvis will read from her novel, published just weeks ago, Tuesday, Oct. 31, for the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective at Nightbird Books.

The book, River and the Lost, was published in early September by Wild Rose Press. It is available at Nightbird, 205 W. Dickson St. in Fayetteville, other bookstores and online.

The collective, founded in 1994, is a “forum for creators who work in words.” Its public program — the last Tuesday evening of every month, skipping December — headlines a poet or fiction writer but also features songwriters and scribes of nonfiction and memoir.

The audience itself is invited to the lectern. Each program always has one or two open mike sessions. Writers sign in and their names drawn at random. The limit is 4 minutes per speaker, who may perform original work or that of others.

The program begins at 7 p.m. The public is invited to this free event; donations are welcome. While open to all ages, language and topics can be adult.

Jarvis has written news, sports and features for the Arkansas Democrat, Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Radio Network, as well as advertising and promotions for print and broadcast. And fiction. River and the Lost is her first published novel.

River isn’t a geographic term here but the first name of the story’s protagonist. The publisher’s summary of its plot reads:

Lost treasure is the last thing fourteen-year-old River Ereckson expects to hear about when she visits a powwow to explore the traditions of her American Indian ancestors.Yet when a fur-clad stranger says she must recover what’s lost, the task soon becomes an unavoidable mission.

Her precarious journey takes her into the Spirit world where she confronts the absolute evil of Vega who wants to drop the treasure into the bottomless Well of Sorrow. It’s up to River to retrieve what’s been lost so everything female in Creation—human, animal, and plant—can become fully empowered. Along the way she finds help from a Mystery man, unusual creatures from the other world, and her own great-grandmothers who have transcended time.

Relying on intuition and improvisation, River accomplishes things she never imagined. But will it be enough to defeat her enemies?

Jarvis long has been an open-mike participant at the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective. Her reading assuredly will have wit and warmth.

Missouri Novelist Addresses Greek-Jewish Lives

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Mara Cohen Ioannides

Mara Cohen Ioannides

The Ozark Poets & Writers Collective this month features a novelist this time from Missouri’s Ozarks. Mara Cohen Ioannides will read in the group’s program, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2017, at Nightbird Books, on Fayetteville’s Dickson Street.

Mara Cohen Ioannides (pronounced ee-oh-AH-nee-dees) teaches Jewish literature and writing at Missouri State University in Springfield. She holds a doctorate in Jewish studies from the Spertus Institute of Chicago and other degrees from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and Columbia University in New York.

She will read from her novel We Are in Exile Estamos En Galut. Copies of it and her recent books A Shout in the Sunshine and Jews of Springfield in the Ozarks will be available for sale and signing.

The monthly program of the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective is free to the public, and donations are accepted. It includes open-mike sessions before and after the feature. Audience members may read their own or others’ work, with a 4-minute cap. All ages are welcome, but parents should note that language and themes can be adult.

We Are in Exile book jacketWe Are in Exile is set on the island of Rhodes as World War II approaches. Until then, Christian and Jewish Greeks lived together in relative harmony under Italian rule. Hardship grows under the worldwide Great Depression. This story follows one family of the Rhodelisi, the island’s Jewish community with unique traditions.

A Shout in the Sunshine was a finalist in the Children-Young Adult category in the 2007 National Jewish Book Awards. The story is about the internal Jewish conflict in Solonika, Greece, around 1500.

The nonfiction Jews of Springfield in the Ozarks is a pictorial history.

A video of her can be seen at “Spring 2012 Soul of a Poet Reading Featuring Authors Mara Cohen Ioannides and Michael Pulley.”



Gerry Sloan Reads from New Memoir July 25

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Cover of Crossings: A Memoir in Verse by Gerry SloanLongtime area musician and poet Gerald Sloan will read from his new book Crossings, A Memoir in Verse for the monthly meeting of the Ozark Poets and Writers Collective, 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 25, at Nightbird Books, 205 W. Dickson St. in Fayetteville.

The book jacket notes that “this newest verse memoir by Gerry Sloan contains over a hundred poetic, literary and photographic insights, commentaries and reminiscences of life in rural mid-America and reflections on what it means today.” Crossings has an Amazon page.

The volume by the retired University of Arkansas music professor features photos taken by his friend Rick Squires and will be available that evening at Nightbird for sale and signing by the author.

As always, the program includes spoken-word open mike sessions for audience members, with a four-minute limit.

The program is free, but donations are accepted. Young people are welcome, but the program may include adult language and themes.

Southern Gal Amylou Wilson to read May 30 at Nightbird

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By Richard Massey

Amylou Wilson

Amylou Wilson

Amylou Wilson will be the featured reader at 7 p.m. Tuesday, May 30, at Ozark Poets and Writers Collective’s monthly show at Nightbird Books. The Fayetteville resident will read from stories published in Little Miss Cornbread: Our Journey to Southern-Style Vegan and Gluten-Free Cuisine & Sort-of-True Short Stories, what she refers to as a “hybrid” book written by herself and her sister Susie Jane Wilson of San Francisco.

“Susie was working on recipes while I was working on short stories,” Wilson said. “This went on for several years. Then, after I founded Turtle Lake Press, we decided we should just publish our own book and create a mash-up, if you will. It was fun to do, but I don’t think I’ll be publishing any more books.”

There will be a short open mic before then after Wilson reads. The bookshop is at 205 W. Dickson St. in Fayetteville.

Wilson is the daughter of a bookkeeper and a brick mason/construction foreman. She was born in Ferriday, Louisiana, the fourth of five children (three boys followed by two girls, all in eight years). The setting for many of her sort-of-true short stories is her hometown, the birthplace of notable folks such as Jerry Lee Lewis, his cousins Jimmy Swaggart and Mickey Gilley, broadcaster Howard K. Smith, and Claire Chennault, commander of the Flying Tigers that defended Burma and China in the opening months of the Pacific War in December 1941.

Wilson’s love is reading and writing fiction, as well as animals, particularly dogs.

She said her memories include sitting under a shade tree in the hot, humid summer with her butt in a washtub of water surrounded by dogs and cats while reading her favorite book of the moment. Always an avid reader and daydreamer, she began writing her own poetry and stories as a pre-teen. While an undergrad studying English at the University of Arkansas in Fayetteville, she had a few poems published and received a small poetry prize. She continued in school, receiving a master’s in English at UA in 1983. Later, one of her short stories, featured in Little Miss Cornbread, found a home in the now defunct Arkansas Literary Forum (the journal is archived online).

In the past, she has worked as a dishwasher, a caregiver, a waitress, a graduate teaching assistant, a newspaper writer and editor, and a freelance writer/communications consultant. These days, she works in public affairs with a regional water utility.

“A gal’s got to make a living,” she said.

Expect Amylou to bust out her Southern drawl and entertain you. Little Miss Cornbread will be for sale for those who want them.

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