Linfield Reports, 9/14/09


Inspiration from everyday life is at the core of a new collection of poetry by award-winning Northwest author Lex Runciman.

Runciman, Linfield College English professor, will read from “Starting from Anywhere” on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at 7:30 p.m. in the Austin Reading Room in the Jereld R. Nicholson Library at Linfield.

The event, part of the Readings at the Nick series, is free and open to the public. During the reading, Runciman will show slides to illustrate his poetry.

“Starting from Anywhere,” published by Salmon Poetry in Ireland, is based upon the belief that poetry can begin with anything. Among other topics is the notion of being born to other parents, which Runciman explores in a poem, “In My Alternate Life.” The collection’s title is particularly poignant for Runciman, who was adopted at birth and raised in an era of strict secrecy laws.

“It was a secret that was undiscussed in my household,” said Runciman. “In this book, I’ve been trying to figure out a voice or a way of talking about this. I could have been adopted by anybody. I could have grown up in any family.  But we all pretended this wasn’t the case.  We lived according to the fiction that our family was exactly like every other.”

According to Runciman, similar fictions can be seen in facets of everyday life, such as property lines and money. “The paper money itself doesn’t have any value particularly,” he said. “We just agree it’s going to be something important. We do a fair amount of our most important transactions on that basis.”

Runciman is intrigued by phrases and titles and named many of the poems in the collection after various titles from other writing. The book title itself was taken from a TS Eliot poem, “The Four Quartets.” In his writing, Runciman drew on locations he has visited, some of them with his Linfield students. He has led Creative Writing in Literary Britain during January Term since 2002.

 “It’s important for young creative writers to realize everything they’re reading was written by someone just like them,” he said. “During this class, we went to their houses and places they lived, worked and wrote. We walked their streets and looked at their skies. That helped with some of the poems in this book. I was just as inspired by doing that as anybody.”

Runciman earned an English degree from Santa Clara University, an MFA from the University of Montana and a Ph.D. from the University of Utah. His interests include environmental concerns, literature of the West, creative writing, contemporary literature in the UK and American literature in general.

Runciman has published three other poetry collections, “Out of Town,” “The Admirations,” winner of the Oregon Book Award, and “Luck.” He has also co-authored three writing text books with Chris Anderson, professor of English at Oregon State University — “Open Questions: Readings for Critical Thinking and Writing,” “Forest of Voices: Reading and Writing the Environment” and “Asking Questions: A Rhetoric for the Intellectual Life.” His reviews and comments on books appear irregularly in his blog, The Far Corner Reader. His work has appeared widely in magazines.

The reading is sponsored by the Linfield English Department and Friends of Nicholson Library. For more information, contact Susan Barnes Whyte, college librarian, at 503-883-2517,


“Assembly, line, image, system,” an exhibition of work by Portland artist Bean Gilsdorf, is on display now through Oct. 10 in the Linfield College Fine Art Gallery in the James F. Miller Fine Arts Center.

Using life-sized prints from 10 different automobiles, Gilsdorf constructs a large scale installation from fabric, paint, dye, bleach and thread that sweeps along the circumference and runs beyond the enclosure of the gallery’s four walls, building a continuum of color and implied motion.

Gilsdorf takes a cue for this exhibition from the French idiom faire la navrette, which references the back-and-forth pass of the shuttle in the loom while weaving cloth. The images of industrially-produced objects on hand-printed and dyed fabric explore formal relationships of line, shape and color. Composed of more than 100 continuous feet of cloth and hung from the ceiling by 220 individual threads, the installation references mass production but retains the allure of the hand-crafted.

The Linfield exhibit is free and open to the public. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, call 503-883-2804.


Mindy Larson, assistant professor of education, will kick off the Fall Semester Faculty Learning Commons on Tuesday, Sept. 15, at noon in the West Wing of Dillin Hall. Larson will present “Engaging students with course readings through reading response options” and share examples of reading responses from courses including chapbooks, double entry journals, sketch-to-sketch and response journals.


Mindy Larson, assistant professor of education, along with Donna Kalmbach Phillips, a colleague from Pacific University, had an article, “Embodied Discourses of Literacy in the Lives of Two Preservice Teachers,” published in the May 2009 issue of the journal Teacher Development: An international journal of teacher’s professional development.

Nancy Drickey, associate professor of education, senior Amy Shoemaker and Marissa Davis, 2009 Linfield graduate, presented research findings at two conferences from a recent trip to Japan to study middle school math teaching. They presented at the Oregon Math Leaders Conference Aug. 4 at Linfield and the Teachers of Teachers of Math Annual Conference Sept. 12 at Oregon State University.



All day: Men’s golf at Warner Pacific Invitational


Noon: Faculty Learning Commons, Mindy Larson, West Wing Dillin Hall

7:30 p.m.: “Starting from Anywhere,” Lex Runciman, Nicholson Library


5 p.m: Women’s soccer at Willamette


7 p.m.: Volleyball at Whitworth


All day: Women’s golf at George Fox Invitational

2:30 p.m.: Men’s soccer vs. Puget Sound

7 p.m.: Football at Occidental

7 p.m.: Volleyball at Whitman


Noon: Women’s soccer vs. Pacific Lutheran

2:30 p.m.: Men’s soccer vs. Pacific Lutheran