Magic Barrel returns to raise funds for food bank


Oregon Book Award winners Matthew Dickman, Lauren Kessler, Henry Hughes, Gina Ochsner and five other distinguished Oregon writers will read from their works Oct. 25 at a Corvallis fundraiser for the local food bank.

National Book Award winner Barry Lopez will emcee the 20th annual Magic Barrel, which will include Portland writer Robert Crum, Corvallis mystery novelist Wendy Madar, Oregon State University faculty members Elena Passarello and Susan Jackson Rodgers, and McMinnville writer and Linfield College professor Joe Wilkins.


Elena Passarello

Blues musicians Dave Plaehn and Jeff Hino will perform starting at 6:30 p.m., and again during intermission and after the event. The readings will start at 7 p.m.

There will be a silent auction of “Fruit Handlers,” a beautiful intaglio print donated by award-winning artist and OSU professor Yuji Hiratsuka.

For the second year in a row, The Magic Barrel will be held in the historic Whiteside Theatre, a 1920s Italian Renaissance movie palace in downtown Corvallis under restoration.

A reception will feature free hors d’oeuvres and sweets as well as wine from Miracle Winery. Authors will greet listeners and sign books, which will be available for purchase from Grass Roots Books and Music.

Admission is a suggested donation of $9 at the door, but listeners are encouraged to


Susan Rodgers

give what they can. Nobody is turned away for lack of funds. All proceeds will go to Linn Benton Food Share to fight hunger in the Corvallis-Albany community. Last year’s event raised more than $5,000 for the food bank.

“This is the 20th Anniversary of the mid-valley’s liveliest literary event of the year. We hope to pack the house for an unforgettable evening of magical storytelling and an unsurpassed tally for the hungry in our community,” said Magic Barrel steering committee chairwoman Sarah Williams. “We’re honored to have Barry Lopez join us as emcee.”

The event is sponsored in part by the OSU Center for the Humanities.

In Linn and Benton counties, one in every five families visits an emergency food pantry at least once a year, and 5,000 children depend on emergency food each month, said Linn Benton Food Share director Mike Gibson. In 2012, the food bank saw an 11 percent increase in requests over the prior year. Last year, Food Share fed nearly 50,000 people with 5.3 million pounds of food distributed to emergency food pantries, soup kitchens, shelters, and gleaning groups.

Here is the Magic Barrel’s lineup for 2013 (see for more information):

Robert Crum, formerly of Corvallis, is a Portland writer and photographer. He has published work in SierraWildlife ConservationWilderness, Harvard Magazine, New York Times, Ploughshares, and Northwest Review. He also published two children’s books with Simon & Schuster, Let’s Rodeo (about kids in rodeo) and Eagle Drum (about Native America powwows), which was honored as a finalist for the Oregon Book Awards. He writes about public health for the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Matthew Dickman is the author of All-American Poem (American Poetry Review/ Copper Canyon Press, 2008), 50 American Plays (co-written with his twin brother Michael Dickman, Copper Canyon Press, 2012), and Mayakovsky’s Revolver (W.W. Norton & Co, 2012). He has received the 2009 Oregon Book Award from Literary Arts of Oregon, as well as the Honickman First Book Prize, the May Sarton Award from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Kate Tufts Award from Claremont College. His poems have appeared in McSweeny’s, Ploughshares, The Believer, the London Review of Books, Esquire, and the New Yorker among others. Matthew Dickman is poetry editor of Tin House Magazine. He lives in Portland.

Henry Hughes grew up on Long Island, N.Y., and has lived in Oregon since 2002. His first collection, Men Holding Eggs, received the 2004 Oregon Book Award. His second book, Moist Meridian, was chosen by Robert Pinsky as a finalist for the 2011 Oregon Book Award. His poems have appeared in Antioch Review, Carolina Quarterly, Malahat Review, Shenandoah, Southern Humanities Review, Seattle Review and Poetry Northwest, and in several anthologies including Long Journey: Contemporary Northwest Poets (Oregon State University Press). His 2012 collection, Shutter Lines, features poem-photo collaborations with the artist Paul Gentry. Hughes is the editor of the anthologies The Art of Angling: Poems about Fishing (Knopf, 2011) and Fishing Stories (Knopf, 2013), and his commentary on new poetry appears regularly in Harvard Review. His website is

Lauren Kessler won the Pacific Northwest Book Award for Dancing with Rose (published in paperback as Finding Life in the Land of Alzheimer’s). She is also the author of Oregon Book Award winner Stubborn Twig, which was chosen as the book for all Oregon to read in honor of the state’s 2009 sesquicentennial. Kessler’s work combines lively narrative with deep research to explore everything from the wild, wild west of the anti-aging movement to the stormy seas of the mother-daughter relationship. She is the author of seven works of narrative nonfiction, including her latest, Counterclockwise: My Year of Hypnosis, Hormones, Dark Chocolate and Other Adventures in the World of Anti-Aging. Her other books are My Teenage Werewolf: A Mother, A Daughter, A Journey Through the Thicket of Adolescence; Washington Post bestseller Clever Girl; and Los Angeles Times bestseller The Happy Bottom Riding Club. Her journalism has appeared in New York Times Magazine, Los Angeles Times Magazine, O magazine,, Utne Reader, The Nation,, Prevention, Ladies Home Journal and elsewhere. She blogs at and Her author site is Kessler directs the graduate program in multimedia narrative journalism at the University of Oregon.

Wendy Madar (pen name Ashna Graves) is the author of Death Pans Out and No Angel. Born in Santa Fe, she began teaching college journalism in 1989, then moved to Oregon State University’s humanities research center, where she was made associate director in 2003. She has continued to travel and to spend time in the emptier regions of the American West with her botanist companion, who is also her best reader and adviser on the hows and whys of violent crime in a region of unsurpassed natural beauty. Like her heroine, she lives quietly in an old house within walking distance of her office. Her web site is

Gina Ochsner lives, writes, and teaches in Keizer. She is the author of the short story collections The Necessary Grace to Fall and People I Wanted to Be. Both collections won the Oregon Book Award, and the first received the Flannery O’Connor Award for Short Fiction. Her novel The Russian Dreambook of Colour and Flight was long-listed for the Orange Award (UK) and received the Grub Street Book Prize. Ochsner is the grateful recipient of grants from the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Literary Arts, Inc., the National Endowment for Arts, the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, and the Howard Foundation. Ochsner is an avid reader and collector of folk and fairy tales, myths and ghost stories.

Elena Passarello is an actor, writer, and the first female winner of New Orleans’ Stella! Shouting Contest. Her collection of essays on the human voice in performance, Let Me Clear My Throat (Sarabande), won the Gold Medal “IPPY” for nonfiction at the 2012 Independent Press and Publishing awards. A recipient of fellowships from the Bread Loaf Writer’s Conference, the University of Iowa Museum of Art, and the MacDowell Colony, Elena recently joined the faculty of Oregon State’s School of Writing, Literature, and Film. Her essays have appeared in Oxford American, Creative Nonfiction, Slate, Iowa Review, 9th Letter, and others, including the 2011 music writing anthology Pop When the World Falls Apart. Elena lives in Corvallis with three cats and one man. Her website is

Susan Jackson Rodgers is the author of two story collections: The Trouble With You Is and Ex-Boyfriend on Aisle 6.  Her fiction has appeared in journals such as New England Review, North American Review, Glimmer Train, Beloit Fiction Journal, Midwestern Gothic, Quick Fiction and Prairie Schooner. She grew up in Connecticut and New York City, taught at Kansas State University, and moved to Oregon in 2008 with her husband and three children. She teaches creative writing and literature at Oregon State University. Here website is

Joe Wilkins’ memoir The Mountain and the Fathers: Growing up on the Big Dry, captures life in the desolate badlands of eastern Montana. It was recently named a finalist for the Orion Book Award and the Montana Book Award and has just been released in paperback. Wilkins is also the author of two poetry collections, Notes from the Journey Westward, winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize, and Killing the Murnion Dogs, a finalist for the Paterson Poetry Prize and the High Plains Book Award. Wilkins’s work has been anthologized in Best American Magazine Writing, Writing Today, New Poets of the American West, Best New Poets, and The Southern Poetry Anthology, and his essays, poems, and stories have appeared in a host of magazines and journals, including The Georgia Review, The Southern ReviewThe Missouri ReviewHarvard Review, Orion, and Slate. He lives with his wife, son, and daughter in McMinnville where he teaches writing at Linfield College.

Emcee Barry Lopez was born in Port Chester, N.Y. and grew up in southern California and New York City. He has lived in Oregon since 1968. He is the author of Arctic Dreams, for which he received the National Book Award, Of Wolves and Men, a National Book Award finalist, and eight works of fiction, including Light Action in the Caribbean, Field Notes, and Resistance. His essays are collected in Crossing Open Ground and About This Life. In 2004 he and his wife, the writer Debra Gwartney, edited Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape, a reader’s dictionary of regional landscape terms. Lopez’s work has been widely anthologized and translated, and he has received major awards from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Guggenheim, the Lannan and National Science foundations, and the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. His website is


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