THE TITLE of The Frozen Moment, an anthology of poetry, fiction, and essays by (primarily) Oregon writers, refers to a foundational element of Portland novelist Tom Spanbauer's Dangerous Writing workshop series. The first assignment in Spanbauer's classes is to examine and address the "frozen moment," simply described as "the moment after you're different."
Most of the writers featured in The Frozen Moment are Dangerous Writing alumni, and in many of the selections, this frozen moment is palpable enough to grasp—especially in shorter fiction pieces like Judy Reeves' "Messy Things, Pepper Trees," Mary Wharff's "Scary, Baby," and Michael Sage Ricci's "Lag." Two nonfiction essays anchor the book: Margaret Malone's excellent "Cavern of Space" and "The Visitations" by Spanbauer himself. So accustomed to his fiction—in novels like The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon—I was surprised to see that "The Visitations" was nonfiction. It carries a surrealism that might convince you it's made up; evidently, however, the story grew from events outside Spanbauer's house in Southeast Portland.
Even though he takes no credit for the book's inception, Spanbauer answered some of my questions about the book and the upcoming reading.
MERCURY: Has anyone else ever published a collection of pieces from Dangerous Writing?
TOM SPANBAUER: No, this is the first time that anyone has had the wherewithal or vision to do this. It wasn't my idea at all. It was all Colin [Farstad] and the people in the class themselves. And it was such a wonderful community feeling that came out of it... it's touching.
How many of the featured writers have been your students? How many will be reading?
I think at least 75 percent of those in the book have been in the classes. The lineup is Liz Prato, Michael Sage Ricci, Margaret Malone, Gigi Little, Kathleen Lane, JW Griffith, and me. There will also be a special performance by Christine Calfas.
Are you going to read from your piece in the book?
Well, we've had several readings so far—and I've already read that piece a lot. So, I'm going to read from [my new novel] I Loved You More.