Written by markdangerchen

Theo Pauline Nestor reads from Writing is My Drink, Monday Nov 18!

Author Theo Pauline Nestor reads from her new book

Writing is My Drink: A Writer’s Story of Finding Her Voice (and a Guide to How You Can Too) (Simon & Schuster, $15)

Monday, 18 November 2013

6 PM

Seattle Public Library, Ballard Branch
5614 22nd Ave. NW
Seattle 98107

CONTACT: Suzanne Perry,

Interested in writing personal narrative but not sure where to start?

Join local memoirist and teacher Theo Pauline Nestor for this 45-minute workshop in which she will lead participants through writing activities from her new book Writing Is My Drink: A Writer’s Story of Finding Her Voice (and a Guide to How You Can Too).  No writing experience required.  Bring yourself and paper and a pen (or a laptop, if you prefer).

Theo Pauline Nestor is the author of How to Sleep Alone in a King-Size Bed: A Memoir of Starting Over, which was selected by Kirkus Reviews as a ”2008 Top Pick for Reading Groups” and by Target as a “Breakout Book.” Her work has been published in numerous places including New York Times, The Huffington Post, Under the Sun, and Brain, Child magazine. She is a professor of memoir-writing in the University of Washington’s Continuing and Professional Education department and the founder and host of the Wild Mountain Memoir Retreat. She lives in Seattle with her family and cat.

This event is free and open to the public.  Books will be available for sale.

Join us for The Writer Next Door, BWC’s 4th annual event!

ballard writers poster 2013

Friday, November 1st Doors open at 6 p.m. Program at 7 p.m.

Sunset Hill Community Club, 3003 NW 66th Street

Author readings. “Ask the Writer” Panel. $15 three-book sampler. Raffle baskets. A
dditional book sales by Secret Garden Books plus Rising Bird Art Store benefit sale

Thirty participating writers, twelve readers and panel featuring Theo Pauline Nestor, Jennifer D. Munro, Ingrid Ricks and Joshua McNichols, moderated by Alison Krupnick.

Free admission.

(Three book sampler available only while supplies last).


Shin Yu Pai profiled by Peggy Sturdivant

shin yu paiA place to call home

Shin Yu Pai’s most recent poetry collection was partly inspired by not belonging to a place. She already feels that will not be the case as a Ballard Writer.

Originally from California, Pai’s past moves have been for purposes of study or jobs. While working in Texas she met her future husband; they moved here in 2007 for her intended Ph.D. in Anthropology at the University of Washington. After two years they moved instead to Arkansas, returning to Seattle in 2012, this time to Ballard, fittingly for her Texas-born Swedish-American husband.

Pai’s vita, which includes teaching, several poetry collections, commissioned works, artist-in-residence at Seattle Art Museum, an MFA from the School of Art Institute of Chicago, curatorial experience and her own visual art and photography, is daunting. Friend and BWC writer and poet Carol Levin puts it simply, “Shin Yu’s brilliant.”

As an example of this I had to have Shin Yu explain the title of her new book to me, “Aux Arcs.” Even though this would be pronounced in French at “o-zarks” I had not made the connection to Arkansas’ Ozark Mountains. She explained the etymology, probably derived from the French term for the region that cartographers drew as the largest bend or arc in the lower Arkansas River and a starting point for exploring the Ozark Mountains. More personally Pai sees her time in Arkansas as its own arc, possibly a detour that put her off uncomfortably off-track.

“I came to this place as a professional. I’d framed my life around work,” she said of her position with a philanthropic organization based near Little Rock. While there Pai traveled almost monthly for work and welcomed the opportunity to be away from Arkansas and how it informed her poetry. As a partner in a bi-racial marriage she experienced race and gender issues that ultimately made her reconsider choosing location as a function of work. Pai and her husband decided to return to Seattle, initially without jobs, making “a leap of faith.”

As they were literally crossing the state lines leaving Arkansas Pai realized how much she longed to belong to a place, as though it became most obvious when Arkansas was in the rear view mirror. Yet she still needed to explore her relation to the place where she had been living. This is a different twist on place-based writing, more akin to the way an artist might use negative space, allowing what’s unfilled to illuminate.  Paul Constant, writing in The Stranger said of this collection, “Cut as they are from sheets of pure red rage, Pai stitches her words into something undeniably beautiful.”

In “Aux Arcs” many of the poems dissect what made Arkansas a place that Pai didn’t belong, concluding with a sense of coming to terms with her relation to that place. In “Ozarks” she writes of the mountains and ends with these lines:

I am one w/the summits

when decamping.

Like so many of us, either by luck of birth or by some instinct, Pai has chosen Ballard as her place to settle. Our meeting was in part an announcement to the Ballard community that she wants to make this place home.


Listen to all these recordings of Ballard writers at Egan’s!

more soon!

March 2012


May 2012


June 2012


April 2013

October 1, 2013: Ballard Writers Jam

Tuesday, October 1, 2013 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. @ Egan’s Jam House

BWC writers are invited to share works written in Summer 2013!

If you are interested in reading, please let Jeanette Murphy know.

May 7, 2013: Ballard Writers Jam on Travel

Tuesday, May 7th at Egan’s Ballard Jam House 

Doors open at 6 p.m.
Hear short, new works from Ballard Writers on all things travel
Support Ballard Writers Collective, on-stage and off.
All ages venue.

April 26, 2013: Author Urban Waite reads from his newest book The Carrion Birds

Friday 4/26/13 at 7:00pm Author Urban Waite reads from his newest book The Carrion Birds (William Morrow & Co., $25.99)
Secret Garden Bookshop (2214 NW Market St.)
Life hasn’t worked out the way Ray Lamar planned. A widower and father who has made some tragic mistakes, he’s got one good thing going for him: he’s calm, cool, and efficient under pressure, usually with a gun in his hand. useful skill to have when you’re paid to hurt people who stand in your boss’s way. Urban Waite is the author of the critically acclaimed novel The Terror of Living. His short fiction has appeared in The Best of the West Anthology, the Southern Review, and other literary journals. He grew up in Seattle, attended the University of Washington, and studied writing at Western Washington University and Emerson College. He lives in Seattle with his wife.

April 22, 2013: Ballard Writers Collective monthly meeting

Monday 4/22/13 7:00pm Ballard Writers Collective monthly meeting at Copper Gate

Cedar Burnett profiled by Helen Landalf

Tattoo 1cedar head shotCedar Burnett has three tattoos. She acquired the first, the Winnie the Pooh that adorns her ankle, at the ripe old age of 15 – the same age at which she committed to being a writer.

Her early interest in writing isn’t surprising, since she grew up in the Bryant/Ravenna neighborhood of Seattle in a house full of books, with a mom who was an English teacher and an older sister who, according to Burnett, is a better writer than she is. Her parents met in a Christian commune in Switzerland. They named their daughter after the Cedar trees of Lebanon, which are known for their deep roots, in hopes that she would grow up grounded. She spent her childhood in Seattle’s damp weather and coffeehouse culture, and by the time she was in high school, she was hanging out at Bauhaus on Capital Hill, sporting a beret and smoking clove cigarettes as she penned plays. Then she won the National Council of Teachers of English essay contest, and a vision of herself as an essayist began to take shape.

When she went off to college at Evergreen, though, she studied everything but writing. Following some advice she’d heard, she instead set out to explore the subjects she thought she might be interested in writing about, including History, American Studies, and Russian Literature. After graduation she moved to Minneapolis, where she worked in the music industry and had the dubious distinction of having Hank Williams III grab her ass on a tour bus. From there it was back to Seattle for a stint in fundraising at KPLU, until, finally, she began her career as a freelancer willing to write about anything that someone will pay her to write about.

Tattoo 2Burnett wears her second tattoo, the Neverending Story image on her back, as a proud badge of her self-professed status as a nerd who relishes composing articles, essays, and posts about pop culture. The topics she covers don’t end there, though, as she’s the first to admit that she’s “freakishly curious” and refuses to specialize. She has written on such diverse subjects as travel, home and garden, politics, and health for outlets ranging from to Fox News to the Wall Street Journal – and, most recently, the New York Times.

Her accomplishments are even more amazing when you factor in the fact that she has a two-year-old daughter and a maximum of just two full days per week to devote to writing. Motherhood has forced her to be efficient; she has no time for writer’s block. It has also, according to her, destroyed her ego – which, in terms of her freelance career, is a good thing. She maintains that freelancing requires “no ego and 100% tenacity” because you have to deal with constant rejection and editing of your precious work, yet still maintain the strength to keep going. Part of the reason she’s successful, she believes, is that she uses humiliation to spur herself on.

Tattoo 3Burnett’s third tattoo, the whipworm on her abdomen, is the emblem of a more personal challenge, her quest to heal her ulcerative colitis, a form of Irritable Bowel Disease that she struggles with on a daily basis. Unlike its more benign cousin, IBS, which can be controlled with diet, IBD is a lifelong condition with no easy cure. But in typical Cedar Burnett style, rather than letting the disease stop her, she has used it to fuel her writing

In addition to writing blog posts about her disease, Burnett has penned a book on being a mother with ulcerative colitis titled Does This Diaper Make Me Look Fat? In it, she writes candidly about the challenges of taking care of someone else when you can barely take care of yourself. The book also details her attempts to heal herself through any means, including swallowing parasitic worms – thus the whipworm tattoo. Although published an excerpt from Does This Diaper Make Me Look Fat, Burnett wonders whether the traditional publishing world “is…ready for a book about crapping your pants.”

Publishing her book, either traditionally or indie-style, is only one of Cedar Burnett’s goals. Her other two are to be heard on public radio’s “This American Life” and to have an essay published in the “Modern Love” section of the New York Times. With her track record, she’ll most likely accomplish all three. And if she does, maybe she’ll add a fourth tattoo.

Roselle Kovitz – A profile by Angie McCullagh

It was in the sunny college town of Claremont, California that Roselle Kovitz, daughter of a radio man and an artist-teacher mom, discovered her love for writing. She says that Claremont, designed to echo ivy league schools, along with her parents’ high regard for education, contributed to her curiosity and interest in learning. 

An imaginative kid, she found it easy to submerge herself in stories and ideas.
Ironically, a love for reading never bit her as hard as the writing bug. “My mother was puzzled by the fact that, at an early age, I excelled at writing even though I didn’t have the same appetite for reading.”
Although Roselle gravitates toward nonfiction, she was drawn to Willa Cather’s description of the prairie years before moving to Nebraska, enjoys Maya Angelou and John O’Donohue, among others, and paging through one of her favorites, The Sun Magazine.
“When I read something lyrical, beautiful or stunning, either in the way it’s written or the message it conveys, it can shift or open something in me. I want my writing to connect with people in that way.”
Nowadays, Roselle pens essays and poetry. She writes, she says, as a process of discovery and a way to connect with herself and others. She also writes web content professionally and co-authored the book A History of Public Broadcasting (
Ballard is a great place for her writerly existence. “I love the combination of the water and evergreens. Ballard is small enough to feel quite comfortable, with all the benefits of the city. I’ve gotten to know some wonderful and talented people here whom I treasure and who teach me about writing and life.”
Though she isn’t married, she claims a wonderful step-daughter and enjoys walks, yoga, lingering conversations with friends and, occasionally collage.
Her dreams for the future are varied and, yes, imaginative. She occasionally fantasizes about designing shoes for vegetarians (she went to shoe school in Port Townsend years ago) and creating a television series about a healing center in the San Juan Islands. Mostly though, she says she wants to become more present, loving, compassionate, and creative. As far as writing goes, if those qualities were to spill into other’s lives through Roselle’s words, “that,” she says,  ”would be wonderful.”