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New book features Oregon City author


by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - Brian Biggs of Oregon City wrote an essay titled 'All Right to Write and Not Publish' about his impressions of Vietnam in 1966.An essay by Brian M. Biggs of Oregon City is included in a new nonfiction book about the craft of writing.

“Brave on the Page: Oregon Writers on Craft and the Creative Life” was released this month by Forest Avenue Press, a Southwest Portland independent publishing house.

Biggs’ essay, “It’s All Right to Write and Not Publish,” is about how he recorded his impressions of Vietnam in 1966, as a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. Years later, after retiring, he turned the notes and Super 8 movies into a memoir.

Biggs has a bachelor’s degree in theater from the University of Washington (and was on the football team that went to the 1964 Rose Bowl), and a master’s degree in directing from the University of Portland.

In 1966, the young Marine with a Super 8 camera stepped onto Vietnam soil for a year-long tour of duty. While in Vietnam, according to Biggs’ story, he took a creative writing correspondence course from the University of California at Berkeley and documented his work as a Civic Action Officer in the village of Hoa My (pronounced “Wah Me”).

Marriage, three children and jobs put the book on hold, When he retired in 1998, Biggs returned to Vietnam three times to reconnect with his Vietnamese friends in Hoa My.

Ten years of research and five years of reading chapters in a writers’ group produced a 500-page nonfiction memoir not yet published.

Then he entered a story from the book in a Crab Orchard Review contest, and got second place, a published story and a paycheck of $350.

“At 70, I know that the older you are, the longer it takes to live, but each day I find time to write,” he said.

Before retiring, he ran the theater program at Jefferson Performing Arts High School. For 22 years, he was executive director of Young Musicians & Artists, a summer program held at Willamette University.

“If the 15 author interviews in ‘Brave on the Page’ are the body of this collection, then the 27 essays are its vibrant, pulsing, messy heart,” said editor Laura Stanfill. “I challenged contributors to pick a question word, such as ‘who’ or ‘what,’ and to answer that question in relation to how they approach the blank page — in only 250 or 300 words. The resulting flash essays investigate the writer’s life in Oregon with grace, insight and humor.”

The book is available through the Espresso Book Machine at the downtown Powell’s City of Books, 1005 W. Burnside St., or online through ondemandbooks.com.

The collection has interviews and essays with 42 Oregon authors, including Lauren Kessler, Jon Bell, Yuvi Zalkow, Scott Sparling, Kristy Athens, Gina Ochsner, Kate Gray, Joanna Rose and Bart King.