Paonia Literary Committee hosts 'Paonia Reads'

By Tamie Meck


If you're looking for a cure for your cabin fever, the Paonia Literary Committee has some ideas.

The committee that brought you Valley Voices, the Harvest of Voices and the Write-On Anthology will present its inaugural "Paonia Reads," a program encouraging adults and students to engage themselves in reading Sherman Alexie's National Book Award winner, "The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven."

On Jan. 28 the committee is hosting a free showing of the 1998 film "Smoke Signals," at the Paradise Theatre. The independently produced film is based on the book, which is a series of 22 related short stories of life on the Spokane Indian Reservation.

The event is sponsored by the committee in collaboration with the Blue Sage Center for the Arts, Delta County Libraries and the Paradise Theatre.

The literary committee has been active at least since 2000 and was formed by a group of writers passionate not only about writing, but also the community, said committee vice chair Eve Duboulay.

The committee sponsors other events for writers, including Valley Voices in April and October. They also host Harvest of Voices, co-sponsored by the Delta County Libraries and held annually during the Mountain Harvest Festival in September. Due to its popularity, the reading is held at the Blue Sage and streamed live to the Paradise Theatre.

For the past 10 years they have presented the Write-On Anthology. The event allows local authors to submit works for publication in the annual Write-On Anthology collection. The event was recently renamed "Convergence: Words and Images from the West Elks."

This year they are adding a photography component to the competition, with the hope of capturing the essence of the West Elks, "from football game to the mountains," said Duboulay. Deadline for entry is March 1. Winners will have an opportunity to read their submission at an event to be held at the Blue Sage during Cherry Days in July.

For its first Paonia Reads event, the committee chose "The Lone Ranger and Tonto" for several reasons. The issue of Native Americans is timely with so much discussion about human rights and Standing Rock, said committee member and librarian, Laura Lee Yates.

They have done similar programs with Harper Lee's classic, "To Kill a Mockingbird" and Jack London's "Call of the Wild" which were funded by the National Endowment of the Arts. "We wanted to reach out to all ages," and especially to high school students, said Duboulay, who is also a teacher.

Yates warns that the book has some four-letter words, most of them in the first story. The stories are also very different and contain some dark subject matter. "If you don't like the first story, try another one," said Yates.

"Smoke Signals" will be shown as a matinee on Jan. 28. It is written and produced by Native Americans. Duboulay describes it as gritty and dry and with moments of humor and darkness, "but also beautiful."

A discussion of the book and film will follow the movie. "There's no test, no pressure," said Duboulay.

Organizers would also love for people from Crawford and Hotchkiss to participate, she said.

Copies of "The Lone Ranger and Tonto" are available at local libraries, and students can check them out at Paonia High School. High Country News, The Cirque, Revolution Brewing, Backcountry Coffee and the Paradise all have browsing copies that can help people decide if it interests them or not. "Even if you just read part of it, you'll get it when you see the movie," said Duboulay.

The literary committee is always looking for new members. It meets the first Tuesday of the month at 4 p.m. at the Blue Sage.