"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Saturday, November 22, 2014

New 3 wk Miniseries starting 11/24: Monday Night Creative Writing Workshop

Writing technique and prompts 
for fiction memoir, and poetry.
A 3 week mini-kick in the butt 
for your writing life!

Connect with a community.
Improve your writing practice.

Tea and chocolate provided. 

11/24, 12/8, 12/15
6-8:00 pm
Downtown Truckee
$70 or $25 drop-in

Karen Terrey, MFA, is a business and creative writing coach in Truckee, CA and offers workshops, editing, and coaching through her business Tangled Roots Writing for children and adults.  She publishes in various mediums.
email me at tangledrootswriting at gmail dot com

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Beautiful Cover Art by Diane Christiansen

Earlier this year my poetry manuscript Bite and Blood was selected by Finishing Line Press to be published this fall. The limited edition chapbook is handmade by this small press in Kentucky, and includes poems inspired by relationships between people and the natural environment and history of where I live in Lake Tahoe, California. Diane Christiansen donated the art for this startling and provocative cover:

I encourage you to buy the book during the advance purchase period that ends September 5th. Buying during the advance purchase period not only saves money, but helps the publisher determine the chapbook's press run. The official release date is October 18th.

The purchase price is $14.00 and shipping is $2.99. To order by Credit Card or PayPal visit https://finishinglinepress.com/index.php?cPath=2&sort=2a&filter_id=1755
 If you prefer to order by check or money order (payable to Finishing Line Press), print up this post and send it with your payment to: Finishing Line Press, PO Box 1626, Georgetown, KY 40324.

Please share this news with any family or friends who are poetry fans. A book party/reading will be planned this fall, so stay tuned! Thanks for your time, and I hope you will consider buying my book. :)

Happy reading!
Karen Terrey

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Chapbook Now Available For Presale

As you have heard, earlier this year my poetry manuscript Bite and Blood was selected by Finishing Line Press to be published this fall. 

I encourage you to buy the book during the advance purchase period that begins this week and extends for two months. Buying during the advance purchase period not only saves money, but helps the publisher determine the chapbook's press run. The official release date is October 18th.

The purchase price is $14.00 and shipping is $2.99. To order by Credit Card or PayPal visit https://finishinglinepress.com/index.php?cPath=2&sort=2a&filter_id=1755 If you prefer to order by check or money order (payable to Finishing Line Press), send your payment to: Finishing Line Press, PO Box 1626, Georgetown, KY 40324.

Here is what is being said about the collection: 
"Starvation--emotional, spiritual, sexual—how we survive it, how we replenish ourselves and others is at the core of Karen Terrey’s Bite and Blood. The gorgeous tension in these poems is in a “secret cellular awareness” that comes from Terrey’s fearless walks in the literal and metaphoric wilds: woods, wide fields, marshes. Like a lone traveler assembling shelter out of what can be found on a forest floor, Terrey places lines like old timber or found stone to erect poems made of human and animal soul. In her title poem, her speaker faces a deer on the path and meditates on his “slow hunger”, a hunger not unlike our own and so necessary our lives depend upon it. A beautiful collection."
--Laura McCullough, author of Rigger Death & Hoist Another and Panic (winner Kenerith Gensler Award)
Please, please, please share this news with any family or friends who are poetry fans. A book party/reading will be planned this fall, so stay tuned!  Thanks for your time, and I hope you will consider buying my book. 

Friday, May 30, 2014

Latest Scoop on Publication, Readings and Workshops

This March my poetry chapbook titled Bite and Blood was accepted for publication by Finishing Line Press, a press in Kentucky that specializes in poetry.  I'm so excited to be working with such a beautiful press on my first book.  The release date is October 15th - I'll let you know when the book is available to order and where you can hear me read.

The LiteraryArts & Wine Reading Series at Uncorked in downtown Truckee has been a great success - join us on the third Sunday of each month at 5:30 to hear 4 different authors each month read from recently published work and work in progress.  We keep the line-up varied so you'll listen to fiction, essay, poetry, and who knows what new hybrid genre.

The Monday Night Creative Writing Workshop meeting June 2, 9, and 16 has room for a few drop-ins.  If you've been wanting to see what this fun workshop is all about or if you miss a sense of community in your writing life, get in touch with me and join us for an evening.  I'll have a new series starting up September 1st.

One of my goals is to work more with teens and creative writing so I was happy Jackie McKinney called me this spring to help her lead a CreativeWriting Workshop for Teens at the Family Resource Center.  The workshops are free Monday afternoons 3-4:30 pm. Please help spread the word to any teens that want to develop some writing skills and get their words on the page!

The popular How to Write a Blog that Stands Out in a Crowd workshop is offered June 30th for anyone who wants to start a new blog or to re-energize a current blog.  Learn techniques to write more efficiently and focused for your target audience.  Thank you to local photographer Scott Thompson for the photo!

I'm always available for coaching for book projects, copy editing, dissertation and other writing projects.  I'm working with several students over the summer to develop writing skills for school. If you haven't already, "like" my Tangled Roots Writing page on Facebook to see updates on poems I've published, local events, and other workshops. 

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Day 26 VSC: Matt Hart, noise, and how to make the most of a writing residency

The one thing you get at a writing residency that you don’t get back home is the opportunity to define yourself as a writer and nothing else.  Not a teacher, not a coach, not a skier, not a planner, not any other role that you play.  Here, the past doesn’t define you.  You are not who you’ve been.  Here, you are who you are being right now. 
Matt Hart was our visiting writer for the last week of the residency.  Wow – you should see him read a poem from his book Debacle Debacle, rocking back and forth, incantatory, rhythmic, powerfully engaged in each word.  At his craft talk he discussed the essence of noise as an effect in poetry, connecting its effects to the noises in punk rock music.  He toured for almost 2 decades as a punk musician. 
At one point in his talk he mentioned that in a collected book of poetry by Dean Young, the poems are ordered alphabetically rather than by a context of theme as the poems had previously been published.  The effect, Matt said, was that he didn’t recognize poems he knew, and other new poems seemed familiar to him.  
I think that this effect happens to artists at residencies – they live out of their usual context in this new place within this new juxtaposition of associations, artists, new friends.  What used to come before and after them has been taken away, and the result is that they can become closer to a creative self of theirs that may have been covered up by habits, by distractions, by other noises of how that life is being lived. And the opportunity to create noises never heard before in your work is the freedom to grab hold of here.
I asked some poet friends who had attended VSC for advice for making the most of my stay here.  They said make a plan of action, then make a plan b, and then prepare to take a third unknown path.  Once here, I opened myself to these new and unexpected influences to try to write in a way I had never written before.  I wanted to let myself be surprised by bold moves that my singular identity here gave me a new confidence to take. 
Listening to Matt read his poems and talk about writing, I was inspired by how loudly he expressed a gratitude for life. He said in his talk that noise is the predominant state of our lives, and what saves a poem is the announcement of noise against a backdrop of expectations.  At a residency, you have the freedom to drop those expectations of your life, and to play with what happens next.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Day 22: Rikki Ducornet: Rational Rooted in the Imagination

The beautiful Rikki Ducornet began her week here at Vermont Studio Center by reading to us rapt writers from her imaginative book of little prose pieces titled One Marvelous Thing.  Read an interview with her and read the title story of her book at the links above. At her craft talk, she shared her writing process, a deeply intuitive process that listens to her dreams and her memory.  She taps into places that give her a power source – accessed through meditation, imagination, primal memories, and creatures in their world.  These places of power are where dreams and the hot material for her writing come from; this explains why a sudden idea can dissipate so quickly, as dreams do once we wake.  She urged us to take a great leap, to work on what catches fire, and to leave something behind.
She said we are the dreamers - and there is a great deal of rational rooted in the imagination.  
This idea of nesting the irrational in the rational, the imagination with the concrete, is the play and tension that I want to develop in my own writing this week.  Now, with 6 days left, I’m cutting up, line by line, poems of similar subject matter or imagery and exploring wild new combinations of phrasing and idea that question the definitions of irrationality and meaning. How can recombining lines from different poems access a place of intuition and the subconscious? Try it yourself and see -

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Day 17 at VSC: Transformation and Story Telling in Painting and Poem Making

KyleStaver comments: "Transformation…Painting is transformation. It’s like alchemy of something. I remember being an art student and making light for the first time. Feeling like light was actually coming from the painting. How would you ever give that up after once discovering it? And then the different kinds of light. Before my light was very exclamatory. Bright color, loud light! And then it changed, and I didn’t want it screaming. I wanted to control what it expresses. And the very last painting that I did in the show was the Syrinx, and when I was painting it, it came so close to being nothing, to just disappearing. So at what point could the light still be read as color? Some days I thought I just lost it completely, it would just disappear. All I had left were the little marks where the light sparked up. And then I would build the painting up again. I looked for the light that would just sort of hum."

I listen into this to hear how images and words could similarly capture light, transform, or disappear. How does a poem layer image and meaning in a word, in a line, as a painting might?

Staver's paintings try to capture a moment in the story where the transformation happens - see the painting of Daphne just as her father changes her into a tree to protect her from being raped.  As Robert Hass says in Twentieth Century Pleasures, "“In stories…I suppose there is always a moment… when the image, the set of relationships that seem actually to reveal something about life, forms.” In poem making, what is that moment the poem needs to capture?

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

VSC Day 10: Life Drawing as part of the Writing Process

My charcoal is real vine cooked into a blackened stick.  The materials of drawing are physical and dirty.  No judgment of the body. The unprotected body is natural and bears no indicators of class, social and political identity that clothing and jewelry and shoes and bags broadcast. Creases lines bulges curves shadows arcs. Its language is skin and muscle and bone and nail and cartilage.  Now his chest curves in on itself, the belly squeezed into a Y.  Now I see the light coming on his shoulders; his eyes are open.  The charcoal lines can be smeared, dark and sharp, or misty, foggy. Here's a drawing from yesterday:

Someone tells me not to try and make my drawing resemble what I’m looking at.  I want to do this with my writing. The inspiring and lively artist Kyle Staver presented a slideshow of her paintings two nights ago and showed many different forms in which she experimented with the same subject: aquatint, plaster sculpture, linoleum print, oil painting.  How would a writer explore a subject with the same diversity of perspectives? Maybe a drawing, a sonnet, free verse, journaling, expanded, shortened and contained within other forms. 

Below is one of Staver's paintings of the myth of Andromeda and Pegasus. More on Staver in my next post!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Day 8 at VSC: A Frozen River

This is April in Vermont.  They say mink may mate outside my window. I can cross my legs in this raisin-colored chenille chair and rest my head back on a wing, close my eyes.  Who am I? I’ve become someone who habitually distracts herself and now I’ve brought myself to Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, Vermont, to see if I can break this habit. The print-maker from Lisbon, Portugal, asked me what kind of trees we were passing in the shuttle from the airport and I couldn't say.  Through busy-ness, I’ve lost touch with myself as I would a childhood friend. On my bulletin board in my studio here, someone wrote “Don’t forget to get out of your own way. Let go.”  I can feel my worn anxiety shedding like corrugated sheets of snow off a roof, leaving that jagged fracture line.  Writers’ footsteps cross the hallway above my studio, doors slam, paper jerks its way out of the printer like a wagging tongue. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Creativity in Tahoe Part 3: Building Community to Strengthen your Creativity

What can creativity offer a community? What can we do as individuals and members of our society to support and strengthen creativity? There’s an idea writers call “literary citizenship” that describes a responsible way to live within a community.  “Literary citizenship is the importance of remembering that no one is alone in the writing world,” wrote Roxane Gay in the Writer’s Chronicle last November.
I gave a talk at Sierra Nevada College’s MFA Creative Writing residency in January that outlined actions writers can take in Tahoe (and wherever else their community exists) to promote and support other writers and artists, to engage in their community in a way that gives back, and to also seek and develop the support they need for their own work.  
But this idea is not limited to writers and artists – the value of building community can enhance each person’s ability to live their life creatively. And with the lack of snow this winter, everyone being creative in their efforts to discover replacement recreation.
What are our creative resources in Tahoe? We are surrounded by 5 colleges and universities, 3 here in Tahoe: Sierra College, Lake Tahoe Community College and Sierra Nevada College.  Wow! So much opportunity available to us here – and open to the public are readings, talks, publications, and the seething raw materials of new ideas, new connections. One thing creativity offers community is this potential of making new relationships between what has always existed.  The excitement of originality is creating a new relationship between these concrete and abstract things that make up the world.
Riverside Studios has a call for submission right now for art to be included in the Lion Heart show benefitting High Fives, a local nonprofit.  Northstar just sponsored a ski competition between nonprofit board members and volunteers that creatively served two purposes: inform key community players of Northstar’s marketing plan and other efforts, and offer nonprofits the opportunity to win $15,000 in prizes. Squaw Valley just wrapped up a call for submissions for creative entries answering the question what is the soul of skiing.  Many opportunities exist to creatively participate in community - seek them out.
With the New Year come resolutions to start something new. This practice keeps us young; here are other local resources that will support your creativity: Riverside Studio’s First Friday Art Opening. Uncorked Truckee Third Thursday literary reading. For Goodness Sake, downtown Truckee. The Bookshelf, Truckee’s independent bookstore. Kindred Art and Folk Institute of Truckee. Community Arts Center.  T Pots Pottery. Thursday night trivia at Pizza on the Hill. I could go on. Seek out new venues and events and breathe their freshness into your own creative endeavors.
Conversations at my talk led to the questions What are our creative resources in Tahoe? How can you generate the support you need for your art and your life? Who and what can you help with the gifts you have to offer this community? Ask yourself these questions.  Here are some actions you can take that make a difference to yourself and the people you share your community with:
1.      Attend an art opening, theater performance, or literary reading in your neighborhood.  Contribute your presence at an event, even if you are tired and want to stay in to watch Madmen on Netflix. Consider the idea that you are participating to support creativity in your community as much as you are going for entertainment.
2.      Promote and support other artists.  We are all contributing to the same big work.  Our community is small – everyone is on the same team.
3.      Buy a book from an independent bookstore. Wean yourself from Amazon.
4.      Drop a note to an author you admire.
5.      Closely observe and absorb the beauty in Nature as you hike/ski/bike.
6.      Often creativity lies in the little nuggets of honest exchanges that present themselves throughout our community on a daily basis. Greet that person sitting at the cafĂ© table next to you.
7.      Drop a note to someone who has given you support.
8.      Ask yourself, what are your gifts to offer your community? Who or what can you support?
Becoming a person who cultivates their own creativity will grow a community more creatively vibrant. While being inspired, you will inspire. What creative thing are you doing today? (Published in Northwoods Magazine 2014)

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Poetry Chapbook Accepted for Publication

I'm so excited to announce that my poetry chapbook titled Bite & Blood has been accepted for publication by Finishing Line Press!  I was able to meet the publisher Leah Maines at the AWP conference in Seattle a couple weeks ago to thank her personally for seeing something that spoke to her in my poems.  Writing poetry is such a private solitary practice so it is so encouraging when someone (especially an editor!) finds a personally relevant expression in the poems. We will be developing the cover design and book galleys over the next several months.  I'm hoping the chapbook will be available this fall.

Working the table at AWP for Finishing Line were two vibrant poets: Laura Long with her chapbook The Eye of Caroline Herschel, and Zara Raab with her chapbook Rumpelstiltskin, or What's in a Name? I listened to other Finishing Line poets read from their work and I felt lucky to be part of such an impressive and diverse group of writers.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Creativity in Tahoe Part 2: An Interview with Soren Wolff

What is it that makes one artist innovate and another artist, living in the same place and time, stick with a style that works? “Courage, straight up!” Soren Wolff, studio artist, doesn’t drink coffee, so this sunny November morning he watches me drink my latte as we sit outside Coffeebar.  He lets me pick his brain about his creative process behind his large canvas oil paintings currently showing here, part of a collaborative show with ceramics artist Kara Strehle.
Soren describes a person walking a proverbial plank off a ship.  People behind them are yelling ‘No, no, come back and be with us!’ and in the water swim either beautiful creatures or sharks. The original innovator takes the jump. This analogy applies to people living every day, not only artists, he says.
Soren lives in Tahoe Donner.  He built his house specifically with a painting studio and wall space for his large abstract canvases.  In winter, he is a supervisor at Squaw Valley Snow Sports School, and in summer, he kiteboards, windsurfs, and paints.
“My number one influence is water, in all its forms, frozen, liquid, gaseous - whatever.  How can you do anything creative without being inspired by Nature?  We are a natural thing, we are nature.”
The evening of November 8th Coffeebar was filled with an eclectic mix of admirers of art in Tahoe taking in the collaborative effect of Kara’s ceramic sculptures of curvaceous movement frozen in a moment and Soren’s large paintings of dramatic ellipses and spheres.
“It’s a totally different experience looking at a smaller piece versus standing in front of a large canvas. Two artists that have influenced me the most are the painter Al Held and the sculpture Naum Gabo. They work on a huge scale. 50 x 80 feet.  Very graphic.  I learned from how Gabo uses tools of perspective in incorporating an ellipse.”
But when I questioned Soren further on influences, he insists, “I don’t want to be influenced.  I would fear being insincere.”
Because the moment of beginning a new canvas is so daunting, part of his creative process is building stretchers and canvases, a meditative process to get into the right space. “When you are standing in front of a blank canvas that big, you’re like, oh God. There’s almost never a point when I’m not coming up with visual language to describe what I’m thinking about.”
I ask him about the meaning of a particular bright orange canvas that stands out, titled Nonlocality.
“Nonlocality is the idea that one particle can exist in two locations at the same time. This is also called action at a distance, where there is no apparent interaction between two objects separated by a distance and yet they impact each other. There is no chain of events, no causality.  This happens in our day-to-day lives.  Have you ever had the experience of reaching to call someone and they have already picked up the phone to speak to you? That’s nonlocality.
“As you move up through the scale of human experience, the same thing happens - we just don’t recognize it.”
There are three factors that play in any artist’s life, he continues, “Sincerity, humility, and fear.”
How have you taken risks, I ask.
“Showing my work is a big risk. It’s personal. I’m always trying to remove myself from my work.  You know that dream where you are on the school bus in your underwear?  You’re living it.
 “What’s also scary is thinking you can make a living as a painter. What keeps my work sincere is that I’m virtually guaranteed no financial revenue from my work.  We want to fit in and if you’re being original, you’re not going to fit in. I’m cursed and blessed by not having the viewer in mind.”
We talk about the creative soup of other artists and influences that exist in places like New York City. When I ask him how Tahoe’s geographic isolation from other artists and influences affects his work, he says, “We’re not isolated.  In Tahoe, we have that [creative soup] on a limited scale. Nearly everyone here is trying to live creatively.
“But if I had my druthers, I would live at CERN, in Switzerland, where the Large Hadron Collider is located. That is a multi-billion collaborative effort to prove that something you can’t see exists in every point in space. That’s pretty cool.
“If you want to talk about cutting edge thought and innovation, that’s where it is, in the sciences.  It is always walking that plank. I steal from them. Theoretical particle physics proposes questions incredibly hard to comprehend in this realm of three dimensions – it’s like magic. So many of these questions have to do with scale.  I’m trying to express these ideas by limiting them to two dimensions. A lot of my intent is somehow bound in the frailty of the human existence.” (Published in Northwoods Magazine 2013)

Karen Terrey, MFA, is a writing coach and editor for business and creative writing including college application essays, offering workshops in Truckee through her business Tangled Roots Writing. She teaches at Sierra College and Lake Tahoe Community College. For information on workshops see her website www.karenaterrey.blogspot.com.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Creativity in Tahoe Part 1: Tahoe lacks a “Creativity Crisis”

“Make it new,” said Ezra Pound, at the forefront of the Modernist writers. But are we still making it new? New York Times asked in a recent “Room for Debate” opinion piece (http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/09/15/is-creativity-endangered), Is there a “Creativity Crisis” in America and if so, what is causing it and what can we do about it? Five essays written by experts from various viewpoints responded to these questions. What about in Tahoe – are we suffering a crisis here with stifled creativity possibly caused by nature-deficit disorder or homogenizing marketing or schools focused on standardized tests or management that values repetition over innovation or rural isolation or too much screen time (all theories proposed in the article)?
Technology is both proof of creativity and the crisis’ scapegoat.  Are hours of screen time dulling children’s ability to play and develop creatively?  My writing students at LTCC defended their video games, saying the games allowed them to imagine and respond to and problem solve (all aspects of creativity) situations they wouldn’t otherwise experience. 
Here’s another example (full disclosure – this writer may be biased): Northwoods Magazine will be incorporating an innovative new phone application Augmented Reality (LINK) into its advertisements.  A reader will be able to scan a photograph within the ad and that photo will lead them to a link of a video that augments the ad.  The photo becomes the first frame of the video. This technology represents a coordination of an individual’s idea-making and a group’s skills to manage and manifest creative processes.  
However, this example brings up a challenge specific to Tahoe regarding creativity: our isolated geography and population.  “Cities are the true fonts of creativity,” according to Richard Florida, global research professor at New York University and senior editor of The Atlantic. Cities provide an estuary of different people and ideas that mix and marble each other, inspiring creativity and new ideas.  Do you think our small size and relative geographic isolation hinder the ability to create in Tahoe? 
One thing going for us is our closeness with Nature, according to the Nature-Deficit Theory of the creativity crisis.  Tahoe-ites are pre-selected for a strong connection with nature.  I believe we find inspiration and a quiet peace in the place we live, both qualities necessary for being creative. And although small, Tahoe enjoys a flow of people from other places who live here as well or visit, and bring their influences.
And here’s two more qualities Tahoe excels at that seem integral to creativity: risk taking and independence. According to Cecilia Conrad, Vice President of the MacArthur Fellow program, “…creativity thrives in an environment where individuals have the freedom to devote time and effort to ideas and projects that may not have an immediate payoff…” Sound like anyone you know in Tahoe?
If it’s got anything to do with opportunity, we have plenty of creativity in Tahoe. I believe Tahoe-ites come up with brilliant ideas all the time.  An important part of creativity is making the idea happen.  This manifestation often requires a collaboration with others. “In fact, creativity is a social process,” writes Florida. From innovative sales techniques to community-building festivals and events to new ambitious businesses and creative approaches to protect the environment, Tahoe has the stimulating atmosphere, motivated intelligent people, and the natural inspiration to create new ideas and vision.

What makes you creative? Do you have an example of creativity in Tahoe? Send in your comments to participate in this series on creativity in Tahoe. Next up, meeting the Creatives. (Originally published in Northwoods Magazine, 10/14)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Moonshine Ink Tahoe Annual Literary Contest

Thank you to Moonshine Ink for awarding my poems first place in the Tahoe Annual Literary Contest.  I'm especially excited because the poem Bite and Blood, published in their November edition, is the title poem for the poetry manuscript I'm currently submitting to publishers.  I was happy to see the poem found its home first in Moonshine Ink.