Capitol Hill, Elliott Bay Books, and Richard Hugo House

I mentioned in the first of these 30/30 posts (October 1) that they are my contributions to a project called the 30/30 Challenge. It’s a fundraising campaign to support Richard Hugo House in Seattle. I donated $50 to enter the Challenge and committed to write at least 30 minutes every day for 30 days through the month of October. Others participating in the Challenge are raising money by asking friends to support their participation, and while I support their effort I’m choosing to keep it personal and use the Challenge as a prompt for my own writing. I’m taking a yearlong manuscript course memoir and I’m using 30/30 as a way to exercise some of my writing muscles.

Hugo House

Hugo House is a non-profit literary community center named for Richard Hugo, a Seattle poet and creative writing teacher. It was founded in 1997 as a gathering place for established and aspiring writers. It offers an extensive catalog of classes in fiction, non-fiction, and poetry taught by established writers, including a writer-in-residence. Some of the classes are one day workshops led by visiting writers while others are yearlong manuscript classes intended for help writers polish works intended for publication.

Seattle has consistently been ranked America’s #2 most literate city, just behind Washington DC. The city has a great tradition as a home for writers, poets, and independent bookstores. In fact, Elliott Bay Book Company, one of America’s most famous independents is just two blocks away from Hugo House.

Elliott Bay

The Capitol Hill neighborhood that is home to both Hugo House and Elliott Bay has also become a mecca for interesting upscale restaurants in one of the country’s most food obsessed cities. Capitol Hill, it seems, has something to feed to both the literary and culinary interests of Seattle residents.

M and I love the neighborhood and scan the Weekend Section of the Seattle Times every Friday to see what writers are in town and who’s reading from their new work. There are several good venues, depending on the size of the intended audience. One or more of them – Town Hall, the Microsoft Auditorium at the main Seattle Library, the University Bookstore and Third Place Books – offer a reading almost every night.

Our favorite is Elliott Bay. The store is gigantic and the architecture welcoming. The readings are delivered in an intimate downstairs space. We often go to hear writers we don’t know but whose work sounds intriguing. Last week I went to hear a novelist named Peter Fromm read from his new novel, If Not For This. I didn’t know anything about the author or the book but it sounded interesting. It’s a love story with a nasty twist of fate as this adventurous outdoor loving couple finds themselves dealing with a new baby and a diagnosis of multiple sclerosis.

I am astounded at the number of excellent writers, artists, and musicians who are producing noteworthy work and who remain virtually unknown. Pete Fromm is one of them. He’s published 4 short story collections several novels and is the winner of several literary awards. He lives with his family in Missoula, which is one of my favorite places, and teaches at Pacific University, a small liberal arts college, in Forest Grove, Oregon.

I couldn’t have been more impressed with Pete’s reading of If Not For This. If I didn’t have 20 other books stacked beside my chair I’d finish reading what he started.

Peter Fromm

I’m told that as we get old we need to exercise our brains as well as our bodies. I tried crossword puzzles and though I like them I get discouraged when I can only finish Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday in the New York Times. Thursday through Sunday’s are too hard for me and I’m too competitive to admit defeat. I’m hoping that tennis, guitar, and writing are just as good for the brain. Maybe next week I’ll look at Thursday’s puzzle. In the meantime I’ll keep plugging away at 30/30 and the memoir manuscript.

More tomorrow…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *