Tuesday, October 7, 2008

literature of the desert

(Ruth & Allison, October 4, 2008)

There's a lot lot going on in the desert in terms of writing and literature. The Riverside Public Library hosts the Inlandia Institute that offers writing workshops, readings, and author discussions.

Inlandia is the name coined for Southern California's Inland Empire (the "IE," gateway to our local deserts). In 2006, Berkeley-based Heyday Books published an anthology of work by writers from the area called Inlandia: A Literary Journey through California's Inland Empire. In 2010 Heyday Books will publish an anthology of desert writings.

At the library on Saturday, I attended a celebration launch of Phantom Seed issue #2, a literary journal of the desert edited by my friend Ruth Nolan, associate writing professor at College of the Desert in Palm Desert. Phantom Seed is a wonderful compilation of writings from desert poets and writers. And it's growing in size. Can't wait to see issue #3!

Ten or more writers, mostly poets, read their pieces from the journal. I read part of my interview with Donna Charpied, a desert conservationist/activist who for 21 years with her husband Larry has fought the creation of the world's largest garbage dump on the border of Joshua Tree National Park. The two-part interview appeared on my blog last February.

After the reading, a panel of desert writers discussed whether a sub-genre of desert writing called "desert noir" exists. We all agreed that there is a "desert noir" as the desert with its size and sometimes less-than-welcoming environment is host to all kinds of odd characters and events. I heard the phrase: "That could only happen in the desert."

Our community of desert writers is growing. Rumor has it that next year the Riverside Public Library may host a desert writers conference or large scale event. Stay tuned!

For more information about upcoming events at the Inlandia Institute, click here.

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