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Sharma Shields and Maya Jewell Zeller reflect on complexity, gloom, and glitter in ‘Evergreen’

Sharma Shields (left) and Maya Jewell Zeller (right), editors of
Sharma Shields (left) and Maya Jewell Zeller (right), co-editors of ‘Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verses from the Gloomy Northwest’ (Scablands Books).

Recorded during the 2022 Get Lit! Festival in Spokane, Washington (in the studios at Spokane Public Radio), this episode features host Lauren Korn in conversation with co-editors Sharma Shields and Maya Jewell Zeller about their regional anthology, Evergreen: Grim Tales & Verses from the Gloomy Northwest (Scablands Books).

From the Scablands Books website:

In this rich, shadowy, glittering anthology edited by Sharma Shields and Maya Jewell Zeller, 56 Northwest writers share their singular stories, essays, and poems that center what Shields calls “the literature of despair.” These pages confront what is difficult in life with extraordinary precision and grace: In Beth Piatote's story “Secondary Infection,” a Yakama auntie narrates the undoing of a lonely woman; in the essay “There Is No Story Until It Happens to You,” Richard Fifield writes about a devastating car crash in the remote Montana northlands of his youth; in his series of poems, “During the Pandemic,” Rick Barot reflects on fear, isolation, and hope as quarantine descends; in her visual poem, “The Columbia Basin Pygmy Rabbit: An Auto-Elegy,” artist Mita Mahato mourns the decline of a fragile species and the terrors of human impact on the environment. In works that span themes from colonialism to environmentalism, from toxic masculinity to a loss of faith, the writers here unflinchingly address what makes us vulnerable, what makes us complex, what cleaves us and what connects us. As Zeller writes in the book's introduction, this ambitious anthology pushes us to “learn, memorize, and recite the songs sung by these regional voices, mapping us into a communal root system of evergreen selves.”

Please note: An extended version of this conversation will be uploaded soon!

About Sharma:

Sharma Shields is the author of a short story collection, Favorite Monster, and two novels, The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac and The Cassandra. Sharma runs a small press, Scablands Books, and is a contributing editor for Moss. She lives with her husband (writer and graphic novelist Simeon Mills) and their two children in Washington state.

About Maya:

Maya Jewell Zeller is the author of the poetry collections Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts (a collaboration with visual artist Carrie DeBacker), Rust Fish, and Yesterday, the Bees. Maya serves as Poetry Editor for Scablands Books and Associate Professor in the Professional and Creative Writing Program for Central Washington University.

Sharma Shields recommends:

The Beadworkers by Beth Piatote (Counterpoint Press)

The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield (Gallery Books)

I'm Fine But You Appear to Be Sinking (Featherproof Books) and Fire Season (Viking Books) by Leyna Krow

Godforsaken Idaho (Little a) and Daredevils (Penguin Books) by Shawn Vestal

Call Me Home by Megan Kruse (Hawthorne Books)

Maya Jewell Zeller recommends:

H of H Playbook by Anne Carson (New Directions)

Lauren Korn recommends:

The Sasquatch Hunter’s Almanac and The Cassandra by Sharma Shields (Holt McDougal)

Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts by Maya Jewell Zeller, a collaboration with visual artist Carrie DeBacker (Entre Rios Press)

The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield (Gallery Books)

The Beadworkers by Beth Piatote (Counterpoint Press)

The Doloriad by Missouri Williams (MCD x FSG Originals)

The New Wilderness by Diane Cook (HarperCollins)

The team for this episode of The Write Question included Lauren Korn, host and co-producer; Chris Moyles, co-producer and editor; and Madeline Broom, sound engineer.

The Write Question logo and brand (2022) was designed by Molly Russell. You can see more of her work at and on Instagram @iamthemollruss. Our music was written and recorded by John Floridis.

Funding for The Write Question comes from Humanities Montana; members of Montana Public Radio; and from the Greater Montana Foundation—encouraging communication on issues, trends, and values of importance to Montanans.

The Write Question is a production of Montana Public Radio.

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Lauren R. Korn holds an M.A. in poetry from the University of New Brunswick, where she was the recipient of the Tom Riesterer Memorial Prize and the Angela Ludan Levine Memorial Book Prize. A former bookseller and the former Director of the Montana Book Festival, she is now an Arts and Culture Producer at Montana Public Radio and the host of it’s literature-based radio program and podcast, ‘The Write Question.’
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