The Guttery Takes to The Road


What happens when a group of talented writers gut one another’s writing for nearly a decade?

Join The Guttery for an evening of eclectic ecstasy.

St. Johns Booksellers

8622 N. Lombard St., Portland, OR 97203
Wednesday, June 5th at 7pm

Guttery Writing Group members will share
poetry, nonfiction, and fiction at this free event.

Let the guttings begin!

David Cooke
Bruce Greene
Beth Marshea
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
A. Molotkov
Brian Reeves
Kip Silverman
Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk
Robin Troche

David Cooke
David Cooke is one of Portland’s established poets. His debut poem earned the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize and a Pushcart nomination. Winner of AmeriCymru’s Night of the Living Bards and the War Poetry Contest award, David continues to promote poetry globally as a builder, distributor, and curator of

Bruce Greene
Bruce Greene taught for 33 years at an urban high school in the San Francisco Bay Area. As a teacher-consultant for the Bay Area, Oregon, and National Writing Projects, he’s offered many workshops on the teaching of writing and literature. His specialty is using Blues music in Language Arts and Social Science curriculum. In his eclectic writing career, Bruce has been a correspondent for a national thoroughbred horse magazine and published everything from poetry to creative non-fiction and memoir. Recent credits include the anthologies The Pressures of Teaching, and What Teaching Means: Stories from America’s Classrooms. He was the 2010 winner of WORK Literary Magazine’s memoir competition. A founding member of The Guttery, a Portland based writing group. Bruce currently supervises and mentors beginning teachers at Marylhurst University. He lives and writes in Portland, Oregon. Read his memoir Above This Wall: The Life and Times of a VISTA Volunteer 1969-70 or check out his blog, Daily Views and Blues.

Beth Marshea
Beth Marshea managed a plumbing and heating manufacturers’ rep for years. Then she quit and moved to Portland to start my family and write. She has written dozens of unpublished short stories and two unpublished novels.

Lara Messersmith-Glavin
Lara Messersmith-Glavin is an educator, a writer, an editor, and a Fisherpoet. She performs her work around town and at the annual Fisherpoets Gathering in Astoria, Oregon. Her work has appeared in Alltopia Antholozine, Perspectives, The Spoon Café Journal, and MaLa, the premiere English-language literary journal in China. She is a co-editor of the recently published Life During Wartime: Resisting Counterinsurgency, and she serves on the editorial collective of Perspectives on Anarchist Theory, the journal of the Institute for Anarchist Studies. She is a member of the Guttery Writers, and she also serves on the directorial boards of Living Stages Theatre (a community theatre project for social change) and the IAS. She is the partner of Paul and the mama of Silas.

A. Molotkov
A. Molotkov’s work has appeared in over 70 publications and won the New Millennium Writings and E.M. Koeppel fiction awards, as well as Boone’s Dock Press poetry chapbook contest. He co-edits The Inflectionist Review. Visit him at

Brian Reeves
Brian Reeves is a writer, English teacher, and former Peace Corps volunteer, who earned his M.A. in creative writing from Florida State University. His short fiction has appeared in Sand Hill Review and Spark: A Creative Anthology. His short story, “Wild Horses,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and his novel, A Chant of Love and Lamentation, was a finalist for the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award. He lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and daughter.

Kip Silverman

Kip Silverman is a writer, technologist and father of three incredible daughters. He writes poetry, fiction, spoken word, essays, political diatribe and was one of the original “online diarists” (you kids call it ‘blogging’). Kip ran Nirvana Flats, a spoken word web site from 1996 to 2004. He is involved in disaster relief and food security projects and Occupies things from time to time. He also ran for President of the United States on the “It May Be Too Late in ’88? platform. It was, indeed, Too Late.
He currently runs several strange web sites including and the facebook page Haiku Sundays. He also writes many very bad haikus. He has made Portland, Oregon his home since 1998.

Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk
Carrie-Ann’s second novel, Only Ghosts, received an Honorable Mention in the 2013 Great Novel Contest. Her screenplay version of Only Ghosts was a collaboration with a school in Nepal, an artist in Iowa, and five other Portland musicians to create a percussive performance that Willamette Weekly wrote wasn’t like “anything we’ve seen in Portland for ages.” Her writing has also won Best Short Story at Third Goal, and most recently has been published in Portland Bridge Poem Anthology. She lives with her ten-year-old daughter in Portland.

Robin Troche
A graduate of Portland State University’s M.A. program in English, Robin was first introduced to writing groups in 1996 through a course facilitated by author and professor Tony Wolk. Since then, she has taught writing and language arts at the college, high-school, and middle-school levels in a wide range of settings. In 2007, Robin participated in the Oregon Writers’ Project, reminding herself that she is indeed a writer. Currently, she teaches a mix of high-school freshmen and juniors how to express themselves in non-self-destructive fashions.
Robin Troche is a writer who feels inferior in the company of her peers. She has published nowhere and has extended internal debates on whether publication is a form of commitment, all of which should be avoided. While she appreciates thoughtful critique and effusive praise of her work, Robin persists in the belief that all words have both a half-life and a shelf life, after which they should be dismantled and put to new use. Titles in particular may survive the useful expectancy of their content and can be periodically unearthed and repurposed. In fact, she is currently considering an assemblage of poems based on the same title to be printed on soluble rice paper.

Love Outlives Us

A. Molotkov–Producer, poet, vocals, handsonic, duduk, percussion
Bruce Greene–poet, percussion
Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk–poet, vocals
David Cooke–poet
Ragon Linde–Music Director, music
Shawn Austin–poet, percussion

Raining Back Up

Raining Back Up performance at Broadway Books Spring 2011.
A. Molotkov–poet, vocals
John Sibley Williams–poet, vocals
David Cooke–Poet, vocals
Ragon Linde–Music Director
Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk–poet, vocals

Writers Reflect on Reading: Part Two

My Book Group

I am certain that everyone has stories. I’m equally convinced that everyone is capable of writing these stories up into novels, short stories, articles, letters, notes, emails, blogs, texts, bumper stickers, billboards, songs, or graffiti. Writing is the legacy of our opposable thumbs and our ridiculously labyrinthed brains.

However, just as not all runners are equal, nor all athletes, all writing is certainly not equal. At some point during my college years I promised myself to never, ever waste my precious time reading junk. Never. Unless it’s a magazine. Then it’s all bets off.

For several years I only read the classics. Only the names bound in those Literary Anthologies you read in college: Hardy, Whitman, Woolf, Shakespeare. Under my definition of “classic”, Steinbeck was a bit of an upstart. Then after living in Nepal, I went through a long bout of only reading Indian writers—preferably ones who used magic realism. Do you know how difficult it was to make a steady diet of this writing? Salmon Rushdie hasn’t written that many things, nor has Gita Meeta, nor Tagore. It was like eating a very limited diet of only orange vegetables.  Yummy, but limiting.  My creativity, like a body on such a diet, was grinding to a halt.

Then I befriended someone who existed on a diet of everything, with a generous helping of sweet reading candy. Marianne read several books a week, reading them to sleep and waking to them before work. She read whatever was in front of her, whatever she found, whatever, whatever, and loved it. Marianne was a sweet novel addict and, as such, had the enviable ability to talk books with whomever she met. She called me a book snob and I called her a book whore. We were best friends. We parted—listen up Red and Blue voters—by mutually respecting one another’s views.

After meeting Marianne, I expanded my views. Here’s my adjusted creed: If for entertainment purposes only, and if (this is my caveat) the reader is intelligent enough to know the difference, and game enough to throw in superbly written novels, then the average reader may read crap.  The aspiring writer, though, is an exception.  To become exceptional, a writer must read more like an Olympic athlete in training.  A great writer must, like an Olympic athlete, read a well-balanced, varied diet. I know, I know: it works for Billy Bob Thornton to only eat orange food (okay, to set the record strait, he eats only raw food, not necessarily orange. Big difference), but not for the writer.  Sorry.  Even a straight genre writer should cross train.

With my new creed in mind, I joined a book group. It was kind of like the Nutrisystem for me. A prescribed diet of someone else’s food, just enough to pry me from my old habits, and get me on the road to a healthier diet. I’ll admit that I didn’t like all the books my group chose. I don’t care if he does write a pretty sentence; Jonathan Franzen struck me as a pubescent boy stuck with a nasty god complex. Mostly, though, I read wonderful books I never would have chosen with my own sensitive nose.  I was introduced by Mandy to Iris Murdock’s The Sea, The Sea, by Maureen to Peter Carey’s Parrot and Oliver in America, and by Tracy to Jennifer Vanderbe’s Easter Island.  The camaraderie of a group to gush over or trash a book is added fun I didn’t take into account when I joined.

Like many people who have kicked an eating disorders, I maintain my Nurtisystem support group, but I also go on my own hunts. These days I’m like a reformed meat-eater who now leads groups on urban mushroom foraging. I will spend my late hours on the Internet searching the Independent Publishing sites such as Dranzen Books, Algonquin Books, Other Press. This search has led down some strange paths, such as The Mullet: Hairstyles of the Gods, or Shitting Pretty. It has also put some gems in my hands.  On these excursions, I have found Galore by Michael Crummey and The End of the World by Sushma Joshi.

While most of my college promises to myself (big hair, stonewashed jeans, cheap beer, Nihilism) are better off dead, my promise to stay away from bad writing has solidified like cement beneath the post of my own writing.  I have many coaches.  Thomas Hardy and Virginia Woolf will always be there, but so, too, will Louise Erdrich, Orhan Pamuk, Gao Xingjian, and Cormac McCarthy.  I may not make great art yet, but with the help of these Olympic coaches, I can strive for more.  Who knows, with time, practice, and lots of good reading, I could break the record–or put a deep scratch down it so it won’t play on the record player any more.

Writers Reflect on Reading

Recently I wrote a list of books that influenced my writing and I thought it would be interesting to pose a question to this writing group.  Tell me about a book or author that inspires your writing.  The Guttery responses were (not) surprising.

Bruce Greene‘s writing scratches like fingernails down the vertebrae of class and culture.  Listen to the performance, Love Outlives Us, and you’ll appreciate that the writers who influenced Bruce were Kenneth Patchen and John Steinbeck.  Bruce claims that he likes them both because they tackle “big ideas and are thought provoking.” Bruce does too.  His “Goldfish” piece read in the Moonlit Guttery’s reading  of Love Outlives Us uses the metaphor of a harmless goldfish to pry open the box of the Vietnam war. My mother, whose brother’s life was shattered by his three tours in Vietnam, could not sleep after listening to Bruce read his piece. She told me that Bruce’s story gave her a new perspective on her brother’s life and the cultural forces that led to his decision to do three tours.  Bruce has published his memoir of his Vista years on the web,  Above This Wall.  Here is an excerpt from Bruce’s memoir. It is a section of  his statement of conscientious objections to his Vietnam Conflict draft board:

To be sure, I have been influenced by the great thinkers of non-violence, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, however, my increased interest in poetry led me to my most profound influence, the American poet Kenneth Patchen. Patchen’s works encompass the totality of my religious beliefs.

There is only one truth in the world:
Until we learn to love our neighbor,
There will be no life for anyone,

Force cannot be overthrown by force,
To hate any man is to despair of every man,
Evil breeds evil—the rest is a lie:

There is only one power that can save the world—
And that is the power of our love for all men everywhere.

When A. Molotkov (Tola) told me that Milan Kundera was his one author, I felt a thrill of recognition.  Tola said of Kundera, “I love his capability to be modern and innovative, to play with the narrative and with character development, all the while discovering poignant human truths that are relevant to all.”  This, is Tola’s writing.  He’s pushed and sifted enough sand to create a world in which all his character and two in particular, Zungvilda and Goombeldt, attempt to stand.  From Tola’s work The Melting Hourglass:

Goombeldt walks in

folding his umbrella

why is he carrying an umbrella?

it’s not raining.

As with Kundera’s writing, that’s the point–why do we carry an umbrella when it is not raining?  How is it that we stand on such sticky, stilted ground?

Cameron McPhearson Smith writes that his favorite book is Craig Childs and his book The Secret Knowledge of Water. If you haven’t read Childs’ book, it is a fascinating, poetic adventure of man’s inexhaustible pursuit of  water sources in the desert.  Cam writes that Childe’s book is “inspiring because every word is so carefully picked; the book is a lesson in craftsmanship.”  Cameron is an adventurer whose writing includes the reader in Cam’s own sense of  wonder and fascination with nature.  In this recent excerpt from Cameron’s blog, his prose is as haunting, poetic, and evocative as Childs’:

Funny that when the stars come out, we go in, and sleep, and dream…sometimes of the stars or of impossible distances, or of near-infinite energies, or of other infinitudes. Then, as the stars are winking out, we wake and step outside, the lit sky blocking our view and thoughts of a larger universe.

David Cooke was the last to share his favorite writer: Mikhail Afanasyevich Bulgakoy’s Master and Margarita.  This book was called THE masterpiece of the twentieth century by The Times of London.  Having not read it yet,–I ordered it at Powell’s Books online yesterday–I can’t speak to the parallels between Bulgakov’s writing and David’s; however, in reading about this novel I found a similar trait.  Allusion.  One of the novel’s predominate themes is good versus evil made through heavy allusions to Faust.  This reminded me of David and his use of allusion and his love of grand themes. In the first stanza in his prize winning poem Edges, the allusions transcend the experience of one life to an exploration of our lives.

I don’t know where to start.  Far before the moon pulled the tide
to your chin.  Before your groin became a grotto.  Before the brine
washed away the haloes your feet squeeze into the sand.  I don’t
believe in the alchemy of eels and their mud.

Random Act of Kindness

An icy rain chills us in Portland tonight. My daughter and I stand on the corner waiting for a light. Rain drips down my hair, into my neck, and I shrug deeper in my coat. My daughter’s hand feels like a puckered fish. All I can concentrate on is that I need the interminably long light to turn so that we can race into her Taekwondo class.

I’m so focused on willing the light to turn, on running into a warm room, that I almost don’t see the elderly man on the other side of the street. He is creeping down the crosswalk, an enormous clear plastic bag floating over his head like a strange astronaut’s helmet, or a jellyfish. I only really notice him after I see a man in a t-shirt racing toward him and catching him by the arm. I wonder why the guy running only has a t-shit on in this weather, and then I notice the old man, notice how weak he looks and I think to myself good, that guy is helping the old man. I would have helped him, but he’s being helped, so . . .

Then the guy in the t-shirt runs off. He runs off and my light turns. I hurry across the street as the elderly man continues his crablike walk down the sidewalk, and I reason with myself. We’re late for my daughter’s class, I don’t have an umbrella, I don’t, I can’t . . .

And then a Pizzicato Pizza minivan pulls up next to the elderly man, the t-shirted guy at the wheel. And I realize that this employee has seen the elderly man from his store window, has left his job, gotten his work van, and offered a stranger a ride home on a night when ice needles spear the ground.

As I open the door to the Taekwondo class, I look back to see the t-shirted guy helping the frail man into the front of the van. I duck into the dry gym and am warmed by the realization that I’ve just witnessed an honest, random act of kindness.  Pushed back, with the memory of the rain, is the guilt that it wasn’t mine.

No Jukebox (Poetry)

A Guttery Great at Tony’s Tavern

Veteran’s Day 2010No Jukebox (Poetry) Adventure at Tony’s Tavern.  Tony’s Tavern pulsed with poetry not song last night when David Cooke stood in as guest MC.  Guttery members featured here all took a turn.

MC Great David Cooke

Jennifer Lesh Fleck's Portland Debut

Kip Silverman's Portland Debut

Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk