Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Interview: Ruby Hansen Murray

Last month, during my residency at the Brush Creek Foundation for the Arts, I was fortunate to meet several good-hearted and talented artists including Ruby Hansen Murray, my writing studio neighbor and the other fellow writer-on-the-snow-filled-premises.

Ruby is a writer and photographer living on Puget Island in the lower Columbia River estuary. A member of the Osage Nation, her work appears or is forthcoming in Wild in the Willamette, Yellow Medicine Review, American Ghost: Poets on Life after Industry, Oregon Humanities Magazine and National Public Radio. On the artist residency front, she’s been knocking it out of the park, having been awarded residencies at the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Island Institute in Sitka, AK, Jentel, Playa and Hypatia-in-the-Woods. She has studied at Warren Wilson College and the Institute of American Indian Arts along with Jamie Figueroa, who I met at a VONA workshop (Voices of Our Nation Arts Foundation), which Ruby has also attended.

On our road back home from Wyoming, in the lobby at the Laramie Regional Airport, the lone television—to our complete chagrin— was tuned to Fox News. 2016 Presidential candidate Donald Trump spewed his bullshit on a campaign stop with his defeated minion, Chris Christie, grinning and standing behind him. And so, Ruby and I retreated to the back of the lobby to sit down for this interview. After quietly sharing a cabin for three weeks, and after hearing her read a short excerpt from her novel-in-progress, The Heart Stays People, I wanted to find out more about her craft and the process she has embarked on to write this novel:

Thursday, March 17, 2016

My Favorite Books I’ve Read Since 2009

Alas, this list-making endeavor would have been ideal for the tail-end of December but, hey, the first quarter of 2016 is coming to a close so the new calendar year is still more on the new-ish side, no?

Anywho, this post is a response to my homeboy, Justin’s list of the best books he has read since 2008. Like Justin, I, too, joined Goodreads around the same time. 

It was fun to browse through my list of books read since 2009 to try to determine which were my favorite books read during each calendar year. Like many of our other lists, it was challenging to decide upon one favorite book I read that year because, let’s be honest, I have great taste in books. (So you know, I was smirking while I typed that.) I’ve read a lot of good fucking books over the past seven years—and many did not make this cut.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Shit I Miss About My Brush Creek Artist Residency

Seeing our jackrabbit friends at Artist Camp

Being around fellow kindred artists on a daily basis
Waking up at 9 a.m. most days
The view of the snow-filled field and surrounding rock outcrops from my bed every morning
The ritual of taking off my boots and stepping into my slippers whenever I stepped into my writing studio
The view from my writing desk

The comfy couch in my writing studio (great for afternoon naps)
All the quietude and solitude
Becoming acutely aware of the shades and play of light and shadow within my studio as the day passed, as well as out on the various trails
Wearing a scarf and mi chullo on a near daily basis
Walking into the kitchen at 12 and 6 p.m. on a daily basis and magically having plentiful free food to gobble
Our communal meals
Murray’s wit
Beverly’s mischievous grin
Susan’s smile
Elizabeth’s infectious laugh
Federico’s voice
Kathy’s kindness
Sliding over the heated wooden floor in the kitchen in my socks
The sound of our boots as we walked on the wooden platforms around Artist Camp
The hills and beautiful rock outcrops around Artist Camp
with my writing partner, Chepita
All the birds on the ranch: the robins, magpies, the occasional crow, the little small dudes and the rare falcon and golden eagle
The primordial fear of running into a moose or mountain lion on our hikes past Artist Camp
The Swinging Bridge!
with photographer extraordinaire, Susan Hillyard
Taking hikes before or after meals
Hearing and seeing the creek
The blue sky on a clear day
Seeing horses in this snow-filled landscape
Brush Creek Ranch
The orange sunsets over the Snowy Range Mountains
Seeing all the stars at night on clear evenings
Having the writing studio (and Artist Camp, really) all to myself late at night

Going to a small town on a weekly basis
The salty caramel ice cream at Lollipops
Seeing icicles hanging from our roofs
The snow!
The howling winds!
Playing in the snow by making snowmen
Seeing animal tracks in the snow everywhere
Having to always be aware of where you’re stepping when you’re not indoors or on the wooden platforms (spoken like a relatively young man)
Having life siphoned down to eating, shitting and writing