Category: Summer Arts Festival

No science post today — I’ll be taking a couple of weeks off my regular schedule the second half of July. Why? The Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival! I’ve signed up for creative writing again, and as usual I will more or less turn the blog over to the class. That means posts will mostly be about writing prompts and reading lists and much later than usual. (I usually set my posts to go live at 8 am ADT, but I won’t even get home to start writing the blog until after 5 pm for the next couple of weeks.) I hope some people will post their responses to those prompts as comments.

Six Sunday posts are already scheduled, as are quotation contexts on Wednesday. I’ll try to get ahead on Jarn’s Journal and pre-schedule that on Fridays, but no promises. Monday weather posts will be abbreviated and missing entirely July 30, but I’ll probably have things to say about the daily weather as it affects the SAF.

What is the Summer Arts Festival? It started out as a jazz festival, and has grown over the years with the addition of more and more types of 2-week classes. This year the broad divisions are music, visual arts, dance, healing arts, literary arts, and culinary arts, with numerous classes in each. Most are only an hour or two a day, and people come from all over the world, as well as Fairbanks, both to teach and to take classes. Numerous concerts and recitals are scheduled, including “Lunch Bites,” a sack lunch with short performances by Festival students and faculty. I’ll probably do a short reading.

The class I’ll be taking, creative writing, has four guest faculty: two back from previous years and two new.

Peggy Shumaker is the Alaskan Poet Laureate and basically created the creative writing program in the Summer Arts festival. She’ll probably have me trying my hand at poetry (again) so if you see an occasional poem here, you can thank Peggy.

Jeanne Clark has also been part of the Festival for several years. She’s from California State University at Chico, and generally has us writing poems, too. Jeanne also rescues Border Collies (another of my loves.)

Rob Davidson is new to me, but I suspect Jeanne recruited him as he’s also from California State College at Chico.  He’s recently published a book of short stories, The Farther Shore. He’ll probably be teaching fiction writing, though he has also published nonfiction.

Daryl Farmer is also new to me, though he teaches at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He teaches creative nonfiction writing.

It looks like it’s going to be an interesting two weeks.


Writing and Marketing Index

The Science Behind Homecoming 4/2/10
The Horses of Homecoming 4/17/10
Writing Homecoming 4/30/10
The Editing Process 5/15/10
Wars With Word 5/28/10

Summer Arts Festival (2010)
General Description 7/18/10
Summer Festival 1 7/20/10
Summer Festival 2 7/21/10
Summer Festival 3 7/22/10
Summer Festival 4 7/23/10
Summer Festival 5 7/24/10
Summer Festival 2nd Week 7/25/10
Summer Festival 7/26 7/27 10
Summer Festival 7/27 7/28/10
Summer Festival 7/28 7/29/10
Summer Festival 7/29 7/30/10
Summer Festival 7/30 7/31/10

Radio Marketing 10/30/10
First Book Signing 11/21/10
The Book Video is here! 12/15/10
Homecoming’s A Finalist! 2/11/11
Reading in the Dark 2/20/11
Homecoming Award 3/1/11
Suggestions Wanted 4/19/11
In Memoriam: Bill Kloefkorn 5/26/11
Proofreading 6/10/11
Trying to Sell Books 6/23/11

Summer Arts Festival 2011
Summer Arts Festival 7/12/11
Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Day 1 7/18/11
Summer Arts Festival Day 2 7/19/11
POCHOIR 7/19/11
Summer Arts Festival Day 3 7/20/11
Summer Arts Festival Day 4 7/21/11
Summer Arts Festival Day 5 7/22/11
Summer Arts Festival Day 6 7/25/11
Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Day 7 7/26/11
Summer Arts Festival Day 8 7/27/11
Fairbanks Summer Arts Festival Day 9 7/28/11
Summer Arts Festival Day 10 7/29/11
Writing Craft and Practice: Some Suggested Books 7/30/11
Summer Arts Festival: Three Concerts in One Day 8/2/11

You’re It? Ten Random Facts about Myself. 9/15/11
Blogger Ball #7 9/17/11
I have Awards! 9/29/11
Writing Prompt: Games 10/6/11
7×7 Link Award 10/11/11
Indexing Blog Posts 1/3/12
11 Question Tag 2/25/12
Tourist Trap: Best Fiction Book Award 3/27/12
Teeth 4/19/12
Kharfun Syndrome 4/26/12
Jarnian Confederation: Purpose 5/3/12
Jarnian Confederation: Structure 5/10/12
Act 2: Retirement? 5/16/12
It’s Award Time Again 5/24/12

Summer Arts Festival 2012
Summer Arts Festival is coming up 7/14/12
Summer Arts Festival 7/16/12
Summer Arts Festival continued 7/17/12
Summer Arts Festival 7/17/12
Summer Arts Festival 7/18/12
Summer Arts Festival 7/19/12
Summer Arts Festival 7/20/12
Summer Arts Festival 7/23/12
Summer Arts Festival 7/24/12
Summer Arts Festival 7/25/12
Summer Arts Festival Reading List 7/26/12

GUTGAA Small Press Pitch 10/2/12

World Building Blogfest
Geography and Climate of some Planets in the Confederation 1/28/13
History and Government of the Jarnian Confederation 1/29/13
Religions and Cultures of the Jarnian Confederation 1/30/13
Food and Drink in the Jarnian Confederation 1/31/13
Excerpt from War’s End 2/1/13

A to Z Challenge 2013
Amber 4/1/13
Bounceabout 4/2/13
Coryn 4/3/13
Derik 4/4/13
Elyra 4/5/13
Flame 4/6/13
Galactica 4/8/13
Human 4/9/13
Inherited Language 4/10/13
Jarn 4/11/13
Kyrie Talganian 4/12/13
Lai 4/13/13
Marna 4/15/13
Nik  4/16/13
Outer Council 4/17/13
Penny 4/18/13
Query Letter 4/19/13
Roi 4/20/13
Saroi 4/22/13
Timi 4/23/13
Uncontacted planets 4/24/13
Vara 4/25/13
Wif 4/26/13
Xazhar 4/27/13
Yearday 4/29/13
Zhaim 4/30/13
A to Z Reflections 5/2/13

With 550 posts as of today, I’ve started to have problems remembering what I’ve already put on here. This is particularly a problem with posting existing content such as poems, short pieces from the Summer Arts Festival, or science explanations originally written for the Alaska Science Forum. I can’t remember which books or DVDs I’ve posted reviews on. It also is starting to be a problem when I want to link to a previous post and can’t remember when it was put up or what the title was. And there are posts on this blog that have permanent information, like the series on planet building and the one on horse color genetics, or the book and DVD reviews. I want to make it easier for my readers as well as myself to find things.

I made a start some time ago by adding an index page, which can be accessed from the menu at the top of any page. Right now, the only links are to index pages on my author site. This takes you out of the site and sometimes back in, which is rather clumsy. The index list is also incomplete.

I’m going to start posting an occasional entry which is strictly an index of past posts on a particular topic. These posts will be linked from the index page, and will link forward to the individual blog posts. As it takes a while to find all the posts that belong together, this will be a slow process—probably extending over the next few months. The first in this series, on DVD reviews, is already queued for January 3. Others will follow, most on Thursdays.

I probably won’t be indexing every post. Some, like those early posts which were simply glossary entries for my books, are on the author site and really belong there. Others, like the regular Monday updates on North Pole weather starting in November 2010, can be found easily enough just by using the calendar on the site. But I hope that by the time I have finished this, older posts of interest will be easier to find.

(“Blue Babe” is a steppe bison that was killed by a lion, frozen and buried by silt some 36,000 years ago. He was found by a placer miner near Fairbanks, and rests today in the museum at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.)

The bison sniffed the frosty air, his head swinging back and forth as he scanned the snow-covered steppe. Vigilance was part of life, but within the herd it was a shared duty. Here, alone, he felt exposed and vulnerable. He lowered his head and pawed at the wind-crusted snow, uncovering a batch of browned grass, but he took only one bite before jerking his head up to look around.

The dead grass was harsh on his tongue, but it would be the only food available for months. And how could he feed, without others to keep watch? In the herd, at least one or two individuals at a time were always looking around, ready to sound a warning if danger approached. He swallowed the first bite, and lowered his head briefly to snatch more of the poor feed.

The wind tugged at his thick coat, but could not penetrate to his skin. He spread his nostrils and swiveled his ears, seeking warning of any predator, but the hiss of the blowing snow covered other sounds. Again he turned. Where was the rest of the herd? Sheltering from the wind? Perhaps in the valley to his left?

The narrow stream valley provided little shelter from the biting wind, and no other bison. Instinctively he knew the danger of being alone, but until he found the rest of the herd, he had little choice. Again he paced in a tight circle, seeking the source of every imagined sound.

What was that? One eye caught a blur of motion, and he bolted farther into the little valley. But the snow had drifted deeper here, and as he started to turn back, a sudden weight almost collapsed his hindquarters. Bellowing wildly he bucked and spun, the musk of lion rank in his nostrils. For an instant he was free, plunging though the snow for the mouth of the valley, but out of the thickening storm came another lion, leaping for his head.

His nose was pulled down, and again weight came on his hindquarters. He hardly felt the pain of claws and teeth. All his attention focused on the demands of his lungs for air. He tried to shake his head, to throw off the weight clamped to his muzzle, but his legs would no longer support even his own weight, and buckled under him. Redness fading to black washed across his world. He never knew when the lions began to feed.

This was a Summer Arts Festival assignment, to write a poem about writing and inspiration, using the word “swipe.” It wound up as my contribution to Feathers, hence the embellishment.I’ll probably have another post, later today, announcing a contest.

This is a bit of flash fiction, written in the Summer Arts Festival. The assignment was to write a conversation between two people who don’t understand each other, one of whom has some kind of dominance over the other. I’d call this a dysfunctional school, but this sort of incident can happen–we’ve had similar accounts on the insulin-pumpers e-group.

The small office was too warm, but Cyril never thought of shedding his coat.  Instead, he straightened his tie, pulled himself up in his chair and glared at the student standing in front of him.  “Well?”

The boy–what was his name?  Jerry?   Jimmy?  Jimmy, that was it–refused to meet his eyes and scuffed his right foot on the floor.  “I ain’t done nothing.  What you want to go pickin’ on me for?”  He shoved his hands in his pockets and turned his head, pretending to study the books on the wall.

“Speak properly, boy, and stand up straight.”  Damn kids today.  No respect.   Snotty twelve-year old, thinking he knew more than an adult.  And his hands were tied.  Couldn’t touch the little bastards, no matter how much a good spanking would straighten them out. “Trying to use a cell phone in class isn’t nothing, boy.  Now hand it here.”

Jimmy backed up a step, and his hand tightened around the phone in his pocket.  “Don’t have a cell phone.”  Sweat began to bead on his forehead.

Cecil stared at the boy, outraged by the lie.  “So what’s that in your pocket?”

“None of your business.”

Cyril stood up, lips compressed.  “Give it here.”

“No!”  Jimmy backed away another step, his eyes flickering to the closed door.

Furious, Cyril lunged toward the boy, grabbing the object the youngster held and pulling it away.  It was tethered by a cord to the pocket, and he jerked it free and threw it down.  He heard it smash as it hit the floor.

Jimmy screamed.  “You bastard.  He ran to the broken plastic case and picked it up, crying openly now.  “My mom’ll kill me.  I made her promise not to tell.  New school–I thought the other kids didn’t need to know.  And since the divorce…”

Cyril took the smashed electronics from the boy’s unresisting hands, and suddenly saw the words in the back of the case.  Insulin pump.

The assignment, from Summer Arts Festival 2009: Take lines from one or more existing poems and rearrange them to form a poem of your own. The result?


A hawk high in the soft sky,
Silly with light
As the trumpets of Mahler
Is only a smudge of motion.

And the clouds moved,
And the grass growing fast below,
And the volcanoes haven’t yet awakened,

And so on the long day of the summer solstice,
For their small Chinese brushstrokes arrowing blue
She dances messages.

(There’s a bit of wishful thinking today, with the days becoming rapidly shorter.)

I haven’t had much experience with chimney sweeps.  In fact, until that week, my experiences had been entirely from literature.  Bert in Mary Poppins was probably the most memorable of these, with ”I chooses me bristles with pride, yes I do,” and the sweeps’ rooftop ballet across London.  But there was also the knowledge of Victorian sweeps who sent little boys, often later affected by black lung and scrotal cancer, down chimneys.  On the lighter side, Mr. Puffert and the vicar with his shotgun in Busman’s Honeymoon had me grinning as much as Lord Peter.

So when the furnace repairman pointed out on his annual check that the cap was gone from the furnace stack, and that consequently rain was getting into the firebox, I wasn’t sure what to do.  I am certainly well beyond climbing on a roof, even if I knew what to do once I was up there.

“Get a chimney sweep,” was the furnace repairman’s advice.

A chimney sweep?  Well, I’ve lived in Fairbanks long enough to know that lots of people up here heat with wood, and wood causes creosote buildup which has to be gotten rid of to avoid chimney fires.  So it stood to reason there’d be chimney sweeps, but how did I find one?

The Yellow Pages, of course.  Chimney sweeps weren’t listed as such, but chimney cleaning was, with three entries.  The Woodway was the one I was familiar with (and the only one with a live human being on the other end of the phone) but they no longer swept chimneys even though they are one of the largest suppliers of wood stoves.  I left messages at the other two, and eventually got an appointment for sometime after 2 pm Monday to get the cap replaced on the stack of my oil burner and the stack itself swept—it turns out that oil burners need that service occasionally.  It meant missing an afternoon of Festival, but I wanted to get that cap replaced before I went Outside for a week.

The young man who knocked at the door that afternoon was almost as lean as Bert, but a good deal cleaner.  I showed him the furnace, explained the problem, mentioned that my own previous knowledge of chimney seeps was gleaned from Mary Poppins, and did he mind if I took a few pictures?  He countered that sweeps went back to Roman times, and proceeded to clean up the outside of the chimney in the garage, and set his shop-vac to suck in any loosened soot.  Then he leaned his ladder against the door side of the garage, on the other side of the garage from the stack.  “Why carry stuff any further than I have to?” he asked.

Finally he was on the roof, studying the beheaded chimney pipe.  “It’s sound,” he called, a dark silhouette against the pale, drizzling sky, “though it could use some calking.   I’ll do that when I’ve swept and capped it.”

 He picked up the rods at his feet—that was what had made me think there was something wrong with the dark gray shingles—and screwed the first into his brush.  Then another and another, now with the brush in my chimney, until he became the iconic shape of a chimney sweep, working his brush up and down in the innards of the wide pipe.  When I moved so his background was trees, rather than sky, he became a surprisingly neat figure in a blue coverall.  Almost before I realized it he was pulling his brush up and strapping the rods back together.  “Now the cap,” he said.

 The old cap had resembled a hub cap—in fact when it showed up in the dog run, that’s what I’d thought it was.  The new one was double flanged: a shallow-crowned bowler on top, then a gap, then another rim below it.  He attached the new cap swiftly, and then ran a bead of calking around the base of the chimney.

“All done,” he called down, and vanished to the far side of the roof and his ladder.

“My kids love Mary Poppins,” he said as he left.  “They call me Bert sometimes.”  And he stuck out his clean hand to me, grinning.  “Lucky, you know.”

This was actually written during Summer Arts Festival in 2008.  I hope you’ll enjoy it — and get a feel for Alaska.


Well, the class from this summer will be reading at the Fairbanks Arts Association Literary Reading at the Bear Gallery, Pioneer Park, this coming Saturday evening at 7.

Further, Tanya Mendelowitz, who helped us with the Porchoir and bookbinding, e-mailed out a photo of the class, with each member holding up his or her pages of the book, Feathers, we made together.

Now I have a dirty little secret to confess. I cannot recognize faces very well. It’s one of the reasons I can’t remember names. I can watch a movie and get very confused because if two actors look vaguely alike, say the same color hair and similar clothes, I can’t tell them apart. I still get Merry and Pippen mixed up in Lord of the Rings, and I’ve probably watched it dozens of times and they don’t even look that much alike.

Face recognition is localized in a very specific part of the brain. (I’ve used that in the trilogy, if I ever get that published.) Evidently that part of my brain is not very well developed. As a result, I can look at a photo of people I’ve spent every day with for two weeks, and not be at all sure who’s who.

In fact, when I used to teach dog training, I could get the dogs’ names within the first week. The handlers? Mostly “Rusty’s owner.”

In Tanya’s photo, thank goodness, most of us are holding up our pages of the book we produced—so I can use the illustration each of us put on our own pages to identify people. I’m reasonably sure of those who weren’t holding books where I could see the pages, but I had to have help.

Photo courtesy of Tanya Mendelowitz

First Row:

Kristen Smith: “Within” and “Perfect Execution;” Anita Stelcel: “Cradle;” Frank Soos (faculty) ”Wreckage;” Sue Ann Bowling: ”To the Poet, From His Cat” and “Krakatoa.”

Second Row:

Margo Klass (faculty) “Found Object.” Phyllis Movious: “I Will Come Back” and “Cinquain;” Karen Stomberg: “Running Downhill” and “Smelling Labrador Tea;” Rachel Andrea Elmer: “Becoming Boreal” and “September Birth;” Charley Basham: “Garden Degas” and “Inspiration;” Patty Kastelic: “He Comes Back as a Joke” and “Work in Progress;” Abby Kasarskis: “Outskirts of the Village: and “Fields of Jordan;” Priscilla Delgado: “I am Related to Music.”

Third Row:

Jeanne C. Clark (faculty) “Rescue” and “Finding Miles Homer;” Peggy Shumaker (faculty) “One Piece;” Arvia Glass: “Salt;” joan parker webster:  “Waiting for Saint Cecilia;” Logan Biden: “How a Poem is Born;” Susan Campbell: “Gravity.”

Back Row:

Rob Childers: “From a Steam House;” George Paris: “Prairie Song” and “Meadowlark;” Libby Mullenberg: “Full Circle Flight;” Jonny Gray (faculty) “Kitty Euterpe;” Ron Smith: “I Swiped a Few Hours” and “Heads up;” Jim Babb: “Transitive and Intransitive;” Monte Lynn Jordan: “Second Time Around;” Rebecca D. Morse: “Where Rock Moves;” Bonny Lynn Babb: “I am Related to Water.”

This is from a prompt Jeanne gave us: write something on “readiness” using the wild word “furnace.” She was talking about being ready if inspiration strikes, but for me, the word “furnace” took over.

We are never quite ready for the unexpected.
Water rising.
Power failure
Flames bursting from the top of the furnace
(But you are already on 9-1-1, having smelled smoke, and the voice says “get out! Get out! We’re on our way!”
But the dog is crated in the bedroom
And by the time you run back and release her
The flames are barring the way to your parka
And it’s twenty below out, but the dog is safe …)
No, we’re never ready
But we cope.

©Sue Ann Bowling