"Bumbershoot!" "Bless you." It's easy to see how our most hallowed of local festivals could be likened to a sneeze. There's that similar spontaneous quality,

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1998 Bumbershoot Picks: Books

"Bumbershoot!" "Bless you." It's easy to see how our most hallowed of local festivals could be likened to a sneeze. There's that similar spontaneous quality, like when you can't predict a sudden downpour. Then there's the momentary inconvenience, like when you lose your companions in the throng. Finally, there is also relief, the post-experience flood of self-congratulation for having withstood a day of calf-busting lines in the name of artistic expression. At this year's Bumbershoot you'll hear words flying every which way, from poets and novelists, scholars and slammers, readers and ragers. The highlights will be nothing to sneeze at, and may even leave you a little breathless.

Robert Hass—The former poet laureate (1995-96) revitalized his official post by producing new poems during his tenure (Sun Under Wood) as well as encouraging people to consider and read poetry. In his latest book, Poet's Choice, Hass takes his favorite poems by modern and romantic poets and writes about them in engaging, accessible ways. The gifted poet and translator, who raises his voice regularly in the names of literacy and the environment, will be sitting in on the "Fish and Chimps" panel. Starbucks Literary Stage, Fri 4-4:45; Bagley Wright Theater, "Fish and Chimps" writer's forum with First Fish, First People contributors and Jane Goodall, Sat 2:30-4; Bagley Wright Theater, Sat 8:30-10. —Emily Baillargeon

First Fish, First People—Writers Sherman Alexie, Jeannette C, Armstrong, Gloria Bird, Mieko Chikappu, Nora Marks Dauenhauer, Nadyezhda Duvan with Jan Van Ysslestyne, Shigeru Kayano, Tomoko Oda with Tomo Matsui, Sandra Osawa, Lee Maracle, Vladimir M. Sangi, and Elizabeth Woody take on two topics in this new anthology from University of Washington Press: North Pacific Rim culture (here represented by artists from the Spokane and Coastal Salish tribes, Japan, Canada, and Siberia) and the importance of Pacific salmon to these communities. All contributors will take the stage to read their cultural takes on fishing, in both modern and mythical terms. Bagley Wright Theater, Fri 8-10. —Emily Baillargeon

Sister Spit—These gals, a truckload of self-proclaimed "outlaw broken-word damsels," hit the Pacific Northwest for their Ramblin' Road Show, stopping off at Bumbershoot. Having evolved from a weekly all-girl, spoken-word, open-mike series in San Francisco, Sister Spit and co-founders Sini Anderson and Michelle Tea regularly expectorate "all the shit that's fit to spit." It's clear these ladies aren't going to be easy to ignore. Along for their joy ride is Lynn Breedlove, a member of dyke-punk band Tribe 8. Starbucks Literary Stage, Sat 6-7:15; Starbucks Literary Stage, Mon 2:15-3:30. —Emily Baillargeon

Dr. Jane Goodall—The champ of chimps, Dr. Goodall has earned her status as an anthropological scholar and animal-rights activist over more than 35 years in the field. Her work has resulted in the Jane Goodall Institute, as well as its offshoot in educational and environmental concerns, Roots and Shoots. Still overseeing projects in Tanzania, Goodall is a spokesperson for the humane treatment of all living things. Opera House, Sat 1-2; Bagley Wright Theater, "Fish and Chimps" writers' forum, Sat 2:30-4:30. —Emily Baillargeon

Lisa Michaels—In her recent memoir Split, the published poet devotes her careful and intimate prose to her upbringing in the counterculture of the 1970s. The only child of radically idealistic parents who divorced soon after her birth, Michaels shuttles between her activist father and gardener mother and constructs her own version of "family." Fitting in becomes the mantra of this compelling coming-of-age story. Here's one writer, newly settled in Seattle, who will be interesting to follow as her career unfolds. Starbucks Literary Stage, Sun 2:15-3:15. —Emily Baillargeon

Ntozake Shange—The poet, novelist, and playwright (for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf) has always played language like an elaborate instrument, particularly in her poems and careful dialogue, where words careen and eddy like jazz compositions. It is fitting, then, that the writer should come to Seattle accompanied by the Rituals & Lizards Project (artists and musicians Joseph Bowie, Kahil El'Zabar, Ari Brown, and Malachi Favors). She'll dazzle audiences with her program of sultry spoken word all tangled up in jazz. The effect, if you get a seat early, should be intoxicating. Opera House, Mon 6:45-8. —Emily Baillargeon

Ursula K. Le Guin—The winner of this year's Golden Umbrella Award, Le Guin conjures up sci-fi and fantasy with such assurance that it appeals even to those who don't read the genre regularly. Her Left Hand of Darkness stands out for many, and is only one of her books to have won Hugo, Nebula, Pushcart, or National Book awards. The Oregon native receives her award (past honorees include visual artists George Tsutakawa and Guy Anderson, former Seattle Rep artistic director Daniel Sullivan, and author Tom Robbins) at the fifth annual ceremony, which has become one of the "sure things" in the weekend's lineup. Bagley Wright Theater, Mon 7:30-8:45. —Emily Baillargeon

 
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