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Destination Nevada County

Premium visitors magazine for Nevada County produced by the Grass Valley Chamber of Commerce

Literary At Home with

Literary At Home with the Literary Arts in Nevada County By Kim Culbertson Author & Teacher When I was in sixth grade, I wrote a poem called “The White Moon is Singing.” It was my first stab at poetry, but sitting in the slanted light of our classroom, bent over a journal with a blue fabric cover, I felt like a writer. That day, Will Staple, a local visiting poet, gave me a slim square of yellow paper. On it, it read: Poetic License. The double meaning was mostly lost on sixth grade me, but something about it buoyed me. I taped it into the front of my journal and kept filling page after page with words and stories and characters. As a child growing up here, I saw original plays presented in the dark of California’s oldest playhouse, Nevada Theatre. I watched Izzy Tooinsky tell stories from behind the blur of his juggling balls at the Nevada County Fair. I grew up listening to Steve Sanfield’s stories and poetry, and reading book after book the patient staff at the County library curated for me. I kept filling those journals. I moved away to go to college and worked in the Bay Area for a time, but when I returned, the literary community had amplified. Now, as a grown working writer, I luxuriate in the literary community that thrives here. On any given evening, I can sit in the orange lamplight of the National Hotel and listen to local treasures like Louis B. Jones and Josh Weil read their short stories for Rachel Howard’s Yuba Lit Reading Series. I can attend Literary Arts & Wine evenings in Truckee, or the Women’s Writing Salon in Grass Valley. I can listen to local poets such as Pulitzer prizewinner Gary Snyder share their work at readings. I can find Molly Fisk, Nevada County Poet Laureate, at a local café as she creates pop-up poetry events or tucks poems under the windshield wipers of parked cars in town. I can attend the Sierra Writers Conference in January and help Nevada County Arts Council celebrate National Poetry Month in April with our Sierra Poetry Festival. As a writer, I can apply to teach at or attend one of the US’s most prestigious Writers and Poets Workshops. Under Brett Hall Jones’ thoughtful leadership, the Community of Writers based in Nevada County holds public events from Nevada City in the Gold Country to Squaw Valley in the High Sierra. There is almost an abundance of literary riches in our county. Almost. Because there is always room here for more – for open mics, and a Nevada County Reads book each year, the annual Sierra Storytelling Festival, and youth writing and recitation events such as Poetry Out Loud. We make room for writers to gather independently in cafes across the county to share prompts and drafts of their work, for respected local authors to hold independent writing workshops, and space to present page to stage readings of plays. We have three thriving independent bookstores, Harmony Books in Nevada City, The Book Seller, in Grass Valley, who just celebrated forty years in our community, and Word after Word Books in Truckee, not to mention 24 DESTINATION Nevada County

the many used bookstores like The Open Book who host events and keep their shelves stocked with stories for our local readers. There has been much personal joy in layering my adult writing self over that child bent over her blue-fabric journal, a thrill in sharing my love for the literary arts with my daughter as she has filled journals of her own, checked out books at the library, shared her passion for reading with local booksellers and attended local events that encourage her as an emerging writer. Nevada County grows writers and artists. Listen, I tell her: you can hear us. We’re in the murmuring of the wind through the pines, in the hush and flow of our green river, in the broad splash of an orange sunset sky. Poets and playwrights, novelists and storytellers. This place feeds all of us. And there is always room for more. Kim is a YA author and teacher living in her hometown of Nevada City. www.kimculbertson.com BOOKTOWN BOOKS Used & Rare Books A Co-Op of Independent Booksellers Rare Book Room • Vintage Art Ephemera • Books on CDs • DVDs Music CDs • LP Records Our Local Poet Laureate Molly Fisk Story courtesy of www.poetryfoundation.org Born in San Francisco, poet Molly Fisk earned a BA at Radcliffe College/Harvard University and an MBA at Simmons College Graduate School of Management. In her poems, Fisk probes transitional periods in family life with clarity and wry humor. She is the author of the poetry collections The More Difficult Beauty (2010), Listening to Winter (2000), and Terrain (1998) and a volume of radio essays, Blow-Drying a Chicken: Observations from a Working Poet (2013). Her recorded CDs of radio commentary include Blow-Drying a Chicken (2008) and Using Your Turn Signal Promotes World Peace (2005). Fisk’s honors include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Marin Arts Council, and the California Arts Council as well as a Robinson Jeffers Tor House Prize in Poetry, a Dogwood Prize, a Billee Murray Denny Prize, a National Writer’s Union Prize, and a grant from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. Fisk was chosen poet laureate of Nevada City’s radio station, KVMR-FM. Fisk has taught at the UC Davis Extension and with the California Poets in the Schools program. She teaches private writing classes online, works as a life coach, and lives in Nevada City, California. Photo credit: Carolyn Lehman (530) 272-4655 107 Bank Street {Corner of Bank and S. Auburn Street} Grass Valley, CA 95945 booktownbooks.com DESTINATION Nevada County 25