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Plainsongs event to celebrate new local literary press

April 21, 2018

Six local and visiting writers will read from their latest works at The Lark on Saturday as part of an event that will celebrate a new collection of short stories as well as the local literary press that published it.

The 2018 Plainsongs Celebration of Poetry and Prose, 7-9 p.m. Saturday at The Lark, 809 W. Second St., is a launch party for Ulrick Casimir’s short story collection “Children of the Night.” Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

Casimir also will be doing a brief reading and book give-away at 4 p.m. at First Street Brewing Company, 119 N. St. Joseph Ave., before his reading at The Lark.

The book is being published by Corpus Callosum Press, which is a small Hastings-based literary press started last fall by Eric Tucker , an adjunct instructor in the Department of Languages and Literatures at Hastings College, current editor of Hastings College’s literary magazine Plainsongs and the managing editor of Corpus Callosum Press. Tucker is also an English teacher at Sandy Creek High School.

The work of Casimir as well as the five other readers — Emily Borgmann, Kiara Nicole Letcher, Dwight Marsh, Becky Faber and Michael Catherwood — have recently been published in Plainsongs.

Casimir will read from “Children of the Night.” Faber and Catherwood also will have books on hand to sign and sell after the readings.

Starting his own literary press is something Tucker has been thinking about for several years.

He met his wife, Tricia Oman, at a publishing company where he was a copy editor and she worked in production. Oman is an assistant professor of English at Hastings College and runs the Hastings College Press.

“I want it to be a creative outlet for people who want to get their work out there but just haven’t been able to do it yet,” Tucker said.

He does editing and page design but contracts with another company to do the actual printing of the books.

Corpus Callosum is named for the band of tissue that connects the two hemispheres of the brain.

“I’ve always been interested in the anatomy of the human brain,” he said. “I always think of writing and art as being a way for people to connect with one another. That’s part of the reason why we’re having this event at The Lark — is to get community members out connecting and talking about art and literature.”

Tucker said naming his press after the band of tissue that connects the two hemispheres of the brain is also a metaphor for Hastings’ geography and the Great Plains serving as the band that connects the country.

Tucker met Casimir while attending graduate school in the University of Oregon. Tucker said he fell in love with Casimir’s writing.

Casimir has an master of fine arts degree in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro; he also holds a master of arts and a doctorate, both in English, from the University of Oregon, where for the last several years he has taught writing and film for the English department and for Clark Honors College.

“Last year, when I decided I was finally going to start this literary press, he was the first person I thought of whose book I would want to publish,” Tucker said.

Casimir was working on a collection of short stories at the time that became “Children of the Night.”

“That seemed like the obvious choice for a first book,” Tucker said.

He’s talked with a few other writers about the possibility of publishing their work, as well.

“Certainly there will be more titles,” he said.

He wants to publish books of poetry and nonfiction in addition to fiction.

Everyone who’s reading at the Plainsongs Celebration of Poetry and Prose is connected with Plainsongs magazine — either reading submissions or having been published in Plainsongs.

Marsh used to teach at Hastings College. He, Faber and Catherwood are associate editors for Plainsongs.

Plainsongs, now in its 38th year, features poetry and short prose pieces submitted by writers from around the world. The magazine is published by Hastings College Press.

The Plainsongs Celebration of Poetry and Prose is sponsored by HC Press, Corpus Callosum Press, the HC Department of Languages & Literatures and Sigma Tau Delta, the English honorary society. A variety of books and baked goods will be for sale, courtesy of the Hastings College chapter of Sigma Tau Delta.

“It’s free and open to the public,” Tucker said. “There’s no expense involved and it’s a chance to hear six great writers put themselves out there and read from their work.”