A roundup of literary news from Seattle, including upcoming Ivan Doig memorials and a new publication devoted to books.
When Seattle author Ivan Doig passed away on April 9, many of his longtime fans were left with a need for what the grief counselors call closure.
Doig had kept information on his illness (multiple myeloma) confined to a fairly small circle. His devoted readers have missed both Ivan the author and Ivan the man, and have been looking for a way to celebrate his life and his work.
Ivan left one last book behind — “Last Bus to Wisdom.” It will be published by Riverhead on Tuesday, Aug. 18. You can find the review of this congenial coming-of-age tale here, and on Tuesday, Aug. 18, you can gather to celebrate the life of this determined and talented writer.
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Riverhead has designated Aug. 18 Ivan Doig Day, and celebrations will take place at nine independent bookstores around the West, including three in Montana, one in Portland, one in San Francisco and one in Utah. And three will take place in Seattle, Doig’s home.
The stars are coming out for these celebrations. Here’s the lineup at the three of them, which all start at 7 p.m.:
Seattle Public Library, downtown branch: Guests will include author Annie Proulx, poet Linda Bierds, author David Laskin and Myra Platt of Seattle’s Book-It Repertory Theater, which staged Ivan’s novel “Prairie Nocturne.”
Parkplace Books in Kirkland: panelists include Tony Angell,renowned wildlife artist and sculptor and close friend of Ivan (“Last Bus to Wisdom” is dedicated to Angell), natural-history writer David B. Williams and myself, who had the privilege of interviewing Ivan several times. Doig’s widow, Carol Doig, will attend, and a live rendition of Doig’s favorite folk song, “Turn, Turn, Turn,” will be performed by Karl Olsen from the Brothers Four. There will be a Q&A.
Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park: Authors Jonathan Evison, Garth Stein and Stephanie Kallos will read from “Last Bus to Wisdom” and share their memories.
All events are free. There will be a fourth Washington state celebration at Village Books in Bellingham on Sept. 18. If you are an Ivan Doig fan, please come out and share in this celebration of an unforgettable man.
Seattle Review of Books: There’s a new online book-review outlet for Seattle readers — the Seattle Review of Books (seattlereviewofbooks.com). It launched in July, and has been featuring a lively mix of book reviews, book news and commentary on the local and national scene.
The review of books is the brainchild of Paul Constant, former books editor of The Stranger, and Martin McClellan, a novelist and website and app builder. In an interview with KUOW, Constant said that the review will pay reviewers, and is supporting itself through a sponsorship model, which is a little complicated, so go to the site for an explanation.
New civic poet: Seattle has a new civic poet. Claudia Castro Luna has been appointed to the newly created position, Seattle Mayor Ed Murray office has announced.
Luna will serve a two-year term, from August 2015 to August 2017. She’ll appear at five community performances and workshops throughout the city and receive a $10,000 stipend.
Luna was born in El Salvador and came to the U.S. as a teenager fleeing civil war. She has a master of arts in urban planning, a teaching degree and a master of fine arts in poetry. She’s a K-12 certified teacher.
Her poems have appeared in several journals, including “Milvia Street” and “The Womanist.” She writes and teaches in Seattle, where she gardens and raises chickens with her husband and their three children.
Twenty-one people applied for the position. The civic poet position is a successor to Seattle’s poet-populist program, which was created by Seattle City Councilman Nick Licata in 1999.