Mr. Scatter has been a writing fool lately, and not all of it for the virtual pages of this illustrious blog.
He has also composed essays that resulted in actual financial recompense, including a trio of pieces for that fine and noble stalwart of legacy media, The Oregonian.
This piece, about Oregon’s search for a new poet laureate, analyzes the situation and reveals the two most important qualifications: a cool name and cool hair. In the old days it also helped if you could rhyme on a dime, but that is less important in our times of free and cut-rate verse. Mr. Scatter is given to understand that sometimes poems don’t rhyme at all!
Mr. Scatter is, in fact, in favor of this position and its title, and he admires Oregon’s retiring laureate, Lawson Fusao Inada, in whose hands the post has been not simply ceremonial but also active and engaged: He has taken poetry and learning to the far corners of the state, in situations ordinary and unusual, and persuasively held that language matters.
Today, by the way, is the final day to nominate someone to be Oregon’s next laureate. Find out how here.
It’s a fine show, worth the trip. And speaking of trips, Mr. Scatter pauses for what might seem a brief diversion but in fact is not.
Mrs. Scatter ceaselessly admonishes Mr. Scatter that he should join a social network club called Facebook. Mr. PAW goes a step further, proclaiming loudly that Mr. Scatter must Tweet.
In fact, Mr. Scatter has trouble with the 200-odd emails that jam his computer daily, and does not fully understand his so-called “smart” telephone. So please drop in on this reconstruction of the interview portion of How Mr. Scatter Got That Story:
“Hi, this is Joe Fe (squawk buzz) in the car (buzz) talk?”
Disconnect. Pause. Ring ring!
“Sorr (buzz squawk) bad connect (squawk buzz) driving from Omak to Olym (buzz) call back?”
Mr. Scatter hits “redial.” A pickup. A squawk.
“I’m sorry. I can’t hear a thing. Joe, if you can hear this, it isn’t working. Why don’t we try in the morning when you’re closer to Portland?”
No reply. Long pause. On to other matters. Then: Ring ring!
“Hi, Bob? This is Joe. Can you hear me OK?”
“Perfectly, man. What’d you do?”
“Well, we’re staying overnight in Olympia, and I’m in our motel room. It’s a really bad area for cell connections, so I figured, I’ll just use the phone in the room. Old-fashioned technology, you know? Sometimes it works best.”
This time, it did.
Finally, Mr. Scatter reviewed Bag & Baggage Productions‘ experiment in theatrical sexual politics, a squeezing-together of slimmed-down versions of Shakespeare’s comedy The Taming of the Shrew and John Fletcher‘s response to it, The Woman’s Prize, or The Tamer Tamed. A brief version is in this morning’s print edition of The Oregonian; you can read the longer online version here.
Bag & Baggage performs in downtown Hillsboro, the center of what used to be farm country but has become one of the state’s fastest-growing urban sprawls. This isn’t entirely bad: People need places to live, and they need the jobs the high-tech industry has grown where crops once sprouted. Still, as he was driving Mr. Scatter couldn’t help wondering whether there isn’t some way for the loosely termed “designers” of overblown strip malls and brand-name boxes to be stripped of their architecture degrees, or maybe disrobed by the AIA. Is there not a better way to do this suburban expansion thing?
Bag & Baggage’s shows are performed in the historic Venetian Theatre, a sweet small former vaudeville house that seats about 400 and also includes a bar and bistro that were hopping on Saturday night. Lots of towns have these old small opera houses, vaudeville houses, silent movie houses, and more often than not they’re either run down or they’ve become something entirely different. It’s good to see one that’s still doing well offering a variation on what it was originally designed to do.
Like a lot of old downtowns where the business energy has moved to the strip-streets outside of town, old Hillsboro has too many vacant storefronts. Will it ever regain its vitality, or find a vigorous new purpose? The Venetian suggests that at least there’s hope. A lot of sweet small towns are hiding among the American sprawl, just waiting to be reclaimed.
PICTURED, from top:
Louis Untermeyer: poet laureate with a pince-nez.
Colley Cibber: poems that could curl your hair.
Artist Joe Feddersen at ease. Photo: Mary Randlett
Woven basket, Joe Feddersen, “High Voltage”
Gary Strong as Petronius and Jacob Morehead as Petruchio for Bag & Baggage Productions. Photo: Casey Campbell
Exterior and balcony of Venetian Theatre in Hillsboro.