“Wildfire in a Time of Climate Change” will be the theme of a Poetry in Performance event to be held from 2 to 4 p.m., Sunday, September 26, in the pavilion at Kimmel Park in Mill City. The event is one of a series organized by the Mid-Valley Poetry Society.
The program will feature artist and storyteller Paul Toews and poet Eleanor Berry. Musician Shawn Morford will accompany Toews’s storytelling on fiddle and banjo. Sound for the event will be provided by Ken Cartwright, station manager and program director for the Santiam Canyon community radio station, KYAC. All four are Canyon residents who lost homes in the Beachie Creek fire on Labor Day 2020.
This will be an in-person outdoor event in Mill City, a Canyon town in the path of that fire. Toews and Berry will present work reflecting their experience of the fire and its aftermath. Admission will be free, and there will be an open mic between sets by the featured presenters.
A deep love of the woods and mountains of the Pacific Northwest impelled Toews to work in those woods as a timber man and also to become a landscape artist, working primarily in watercolor but also in other media. A sense of the adventure in “ordinary” lives and an ear for everyday speech led him to become a storyteller. Since 2002, Toews has owned and operated a gallery and studio on Third Avenue in Stayton, showing his work and teaching art classes there as well as at his home, now lost to wildfire. His work is also exhibited at Elsinore Framing and Fine Arts Gallery in Salem and other galleries throughout the area
Berry grew up in the northeast and lived about 25 years in the upper Midwest before moving with her husband to the Santiam Canyon in 1994. Place, especially the natural world, has been a principal inspiration and subject of her poetry. Her first book, Green November, reflected her slow acclimation to the land and climate of western Oregon. Her second book, No Constant Hues, and her recently published chapbook, Only So Far, continue her exploration of her new home place and of other places she has lived and visited. A “poetry activist,” Berry is a past president of the Oregon Poetry Association and of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies. With the late Virginia Corrie-Cozart, she co-founded the Mid-Valley Poetry Society in 2010.