by Vere McCarty

This column, consecutively titled “Line Break”, “Salem Writes”, and “Words”, was created in 2014 by Ruth Hudgens for the purpose of giving local writers a voice in the Salem Weekly.  Ruth needed more time for her role as grandma, and that is how I came to take on the job of editing the column.  Ruth schooled me on her vision – the key idea being creativity – and pointed me to some creative local writers. 

Looking for contributors, I found no limit to local resources – writers’ groups, poetry associations, publishers, radio KMUZ, the Salem Poetry Project.  Special props to our anchors R.S. Stewart and Don Upjohn for timely and copious fiction and reviews. 

A wealth of creators: Mike Shuler, Ada Molinoff, Ariel, Martin Doerfler, Hal Mathew, Leland Gilsen, Maxine Kahn, Sloy, John Van Dreal, Maggie Mayer, Gwynne Slade, Kevin Kiker, Jordan Hofer, Mitch Lies, Penina Taesali, Jean Rover, Lois Rosen, Stephanie Lennox, Germán Rizo, Rob Gonzalez, Miguel Savaadra, Eleanor Berry, Steve Slemenda, Marc Janssen, Matías Trejo, Kendra Moe, Jim Merrill, Sarah Roers, Mike Turner, Leonide Martin, Álvaro Rodríguez, Tim Pfau, Elizabeth Keyser, Isabella Ruiz, Steven Heine, Karen Runkel, Ruth, myself, and Anonymous, have given us creative pieces on such subjects as inspiration for writing, performance poetry, being aware of depression, flowers, poetry gatherings, response to the election disaster, Celilo, stuttering, psychedelica, Mayan queens, poetry as a way to understand science, cave paintings, the gun epidemic, a baby elephant, morning writing, losing a grandpa, aging, and support for the homeless, as well as articles on Frank Herbert, William Stafford, Ursula Le Guin and other luminaries. 

Juan Cervantes has opened opportunities for Latino writers with his Espiral Publishing LLC.  On educating ourselves in these confused times, Juan writes:”We have got to be the reader and not an interpretation decoded by impostors.”

Salem Weekly has welcomed this wave of creativity, printing six bilingual articles, plus one entirely in Spanish.     

A few of my favorite moments in the column –

Franca Hernandez celebrates the ancients:

Musical tunes vibrate off the surface

of the Natisone

She dies – goddesses were real women

at one time

Arturo Sarmiento, radio host and firefighter, on approaching a raging forest fire:

Mis pies no se mueven.

Ya no son soldados para esta guerra.

My feet do not move.

They are no soldiers for this war.

Concepción Sámano, on the forests of the Sierra de Guanajuato and the Oregon Coast Range: 

En este bosque reforestado             

el aura sagrado de los arboles pierde

su sentido         

In this reforested woods

the sacred wind in the trees loses its sense

Judy Gabriel describes home births in difficult circumstances in rural Mexico.  Yet a midwife says, “Giving encouragement is the most important thing a midwife does.”

Kelley Morehouse on food for the soul:

The music fell upon the women waiting

on lower floors at their kitchens’ window sills

Michael Smith on playing piano:

Anticipation is the point.

Attention is the real you.

After many fascinating discussions with writers, and fifty articles, I am handing off my role as editor.  Thanks to all for the great experience!     

The column is now in the very capable hands of Jade Rosina McCutcheon, whom you already know as writer of SW’s theatre reviews.  Over to you, Jade.