The Bard of Tucson

dan-gilmoreGuest author, Dan Gilmore, writer of fiction and poetry, wins us over. The twinkling in Gilmore’s eyes is for good reason. As guest speaker at the Tucson Writers’ Retreat facilitated by Allyson Latta and coordinated by Gail Rudyk at Sabino Springs, Tucson, the local writer entertained us with his irreverence, good humour and talent.

Gail’s neighbour, Deborah Toland, generously invited ten writers from our retreat into her beautiful home for a Tucson-style dinner party. Her husband J.B. blended pitchers of pink Howling Coyotes. If that wasn’t enough, he filled a large tin tub with ice and wine and other drinks. All the makings of a great party.

sylvia-allyson-dan-img_3667Debbie’s menu included shrimp, tomales (spiced cornmeal paste wrapped in corn husks and steamed), thinly rolled and baked enchiladas, taco and salsa, guacamole, bean/corn/rice salad, fruit salad and many more tempting dishes, dips and deserts that 10 writers ate and analyzed as if writing food columns. After dinner and socializing the women turned their attention to poet and fiction writer, Dan Gilmore.

Dan’s bio indicates what we were in for:
Dan Gilmore has been a fry cook, a jazz musician, a draft dodger, a soldier, an actor, a minister in a Reno wedding chapel, a psychologist, a single parent of Jennifer and Danny, a college professor, a dean, and a consultant to business. A Howl for Mayflower is his first novel. As a poet and writer, he received awards from Sandscript, the Raymond Carver Fiction Contest, and the Martindale Fiction Contest.

Here are a few of Gilmore’s serious tips for emerging writers:

  • Juxtaposition within a scene is crucial to capture a reader’s attention & provides an opportunity for tension
  • Tell secrets – delight and surprise – in your own voice
  • Be selective in your reading choices and look for authors who resonate your own voice
  • Take out your darlings (scenes you believe are your best writing segments – but do nothing for your story) & prepare to revise, revise, revise
  • Read poet Rainer Maria Rilke
  • Give proper attention to the mundane – the way you present the mundane can enhance a story
  • Memoir – memory is inaccurate, so memory is myth and anthology
  • Climb into a character’s point of view – not your own
  • Get out of your way and answers start flowing

For three hours we discussed writing and listened to Dan’s humourous anecdotes. He answered questions to our satisfaction and we happily rewarded him by purchasing his latest novel, A Howl for Mayflower.

Dan answered our questions.
One of my questions was, How does a writer get away with spilling the beans on family (as Dan does in his poetry)?

You don’t, he said. He’d lost contact with a couple of more distant family members because of his honesty.

He recalled my question when signing a copy of his book and wrote, Mary – a deep bow to your future of pissing people off, Dan. I’m not likely to take that advice, but the spirit in which he offered it amused me.

Dan Gilmore’s Books:
Season Tickets – Poems and Stories,published by Pima Press
Love Takes a Bow – New and collected poems, published by Imago Press
A Howl for Mayflower – A Novel, published by Imago Press

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