Saturday, November 27, 2010

Random Act of Kindness

Random Act of Kindness

Don't Worry!

I want to translate the phrase don’t worry, and I call for those who use it to consider using the translation because it's much more accurate.

The first time I heard this phrase was after the movie 101 Dalmatians came out.  We had an older, cranky Dalmatian. After that movie came out, wherever we went, kids would race up to our leashed Dalmatian as their parents smiled and called out, “Don’t worry, our kid is good with dogs.” 

I would respond, “But mine’s not good with kids!”  Luckily, our dog never bit a kid, not even the little three-year-old who tweaked our dog’s nose while his dad said, ‘aw, how cute.”

Then we got our little ten-pound, rescue, complete with a pathetic limp and a timid disposition.  I thought, “Now I don’t have to worry about people getting into my dog’s space!” After months of training, I introduced him to the dog parks last summer. 

Shortly after we started going to dog parks, a pit bull owner saw that I was hesitant about having his large dog play with mine and he told me, “Don’t worry, my dog is good with other dogs.”  Right after those words, his dog mistook mine for prey and crushed my little guy’s jaw.   After jaw surgery and eight weeks of a muzzle and cone, my little guy recovered physically.

However, when many people shook their heads and said, “You shouldn’t have brought a little dog to a big dog park”, they exacerbated the ordeal. When the pit bull dog owner refused to accept any responsibility or even to acknowledge his dog’s aggression, I was put in a really difficult position.  Of course, he explained his dog's behavior with another of my favorite phrases: “My dog never did anything like that before.”

This Saturday, four months after the incident with the pit bull, I decided to take our dog to a dog park designated specifically for little dogs, Normandale Park.  I sighed at the decision because the lazy in me would much prefer the three parks within walking distance.  But, maybe all those people were right; a ten-pound dog should not be in a park with big dogs. 

Normandale is a nice park for dogs.  Two enormous fenced in play areas for any dog, and then one smaller area for little dogs.  All areas are well gated and marked.  Being a Saturday, the two larger dog park areas were crowded and rowdy, but the little dog area was empty and peaceful.  A great way to reintegrate our dog into the world of dog parks. 

My daughter and I brought our dog into the little dog area and, for the first time in four months, we let him run without a leash.  It was nice to see him relax and sniff around, and I started to think about how I could fit this park run into our busy lives.  That is until two women with three large dogs nonchalantly let themselves into the little dog area.   My dog sat down and started to shake as three enormous dogs pounced all over him.

“Don’t worry, our dogs are good with other dogs,” they called out, but I didn’t smile and play nice.  I did the unthinkable.  I challenged the implied authority of the don’t worry. I explained that this was a little dog park and that I drove to Normandale just to use this one park designated for little dogs.

Offended, they told me, “Our dogs are friendly.  They’re not a problem.  Your problem is not letting your dog play with other dogs.”   All in a huff, they finally left the little dog park. As one woman was telling the other, “You told her!” their unleashed dogs bounded straight over to jump on a little kid in the children’s play area.  The father raced to pick up his son, but the women invoked their get-out-of-jail card, calling out in dulcet unison, “Don’t worry, our dogs are good with kids.”

As I watched their dogs pawing down the front of this child, I finally got it.  Don’t worry is code for I’m an asshole and I can do whatever the hell I want.

Friday, November 12, 2010

A Guttery Great at Tony’s Tavern

A Guttery Great at Tony’s Tavern

This was a fun night at Tony's. The MC didn't show up, and so David moved the the table, set up the chairs, and we played. One Tony regular showed up, but otherwise it was just us. There was something so fun about the unexpected spontaneity of the evening. I love when things don't go as planned.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

bookfutures: discuss

bookfutures: discuss: " is your link to Bob Stein's Taxonomy of Social Reading which was unveiled at the Books in Browser..."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Show and Tell Gallery

 Last night I did a reading at Show and Tell Gallery.  I'm not sure about the expression on my face, but it was supposed to be comical piece.  I guess, if nothing else, my face made everyone laugh. 

From the Show and Tell Gallery Website:

Melissa Sillitoe started Show and Tell Gallery in her living room in 2007, a DIY gallery open at Everett Station Lofts on First Thursdays that included live musical and spoken word performances as part of the arts format. Friends showed art and volunteered showing guests from the lobby to her living room.

Show and Tell Gallery Productions–which includes collaborators Luke Lefler and Nikia Cummings and volunteers–now hosts a weekly invited reading and open mic at Three Friends Coffee House. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Stonehenge Studios

Stonehenge Studios Poetry Open Mic


I read an excerpt entitled "Revolution" from my book, Only Ghosts.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Tharu Family In Dang, Nepal

Batuwaa is a made up village set near the village of Parasi in the Lumbini District of Nepal.  It also takes on some characteristics of the village in Dang where I took this photo.  I gave a health training there in the early 1990's, and I knew I would write about it one day.  Thus, Only Ghosts.

Friday, September 10, 2010

October 2nd Performance at Beach Books

Saturday 10/2/10 (5-8pm) at Beach Books in Seaside, OR: A poetry and musical experience featuring five local artists. These Portland poets will weave their work into a tapestry with full musical accompaniment.

A. Molotkov is a writer, composer, filmmaker and visual artist. Although he has been writing fiction and poetry for over 25 years, his more recent involvement with other art forms allows him to approach the creative process from various angles, with individual parts contributing to a greater whole. Molotkov is the author of several novels, short story and poetry collections and the winner of the 2008 E. M. Koeppel Short Fiction Award for his short story “Round Trip”, which was nominated for a Pushcart. His fiction and poetry has appeared in or accepted by the Hawaii Pacific Review, Peralta Press, Acquillrelle, Gival Press, Epicenter, Suger Mule and elsewhere. His debut CD “Can You Stay Forever”, an ambitious project utilizing 15 musicians, has received glowing reviews. A. Molotkov is quickly becoming known in the Portland poetry community for his exceptional skills at oral presentation. In February 2010, Molotkov spearheaded a one-hour performance “Love Outlives Us” presented by the Show and Tell Gallery and repeated on KBOO in June.

John Sibley Williams is a poet and book publicist residing in Portland, OR. He has a previous MA in Writing and presently studies Book Publishing at Portland State University, where he serves as Acquisitions Manager of Ooligan Press and publicist for Three Muses Press. His poetry was nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Prize, and his debut chapbook, A Pure River, is forthcoming from The Last Automat Press. Some of his over 100 previous or upcoming publications include: The Evansville Review, Ellipsis, Flint Hills Review, Euphony, Open Letters, Cadillac Cicatrix, Juked, The Journal, Hawaii Review, Cutthroat, The Furnace Review, Red Wheelbarrow, Aries, and River Oak Review.

Before landing in Portland, Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk lived all over. She learned kickboxing in Turkey, faced-off with a rhino in Nepal, discussed the weather with Queen Elizabeth in England, and was chastised by Mother Theresa in India. Portland has been her home for ten years. For the last four, she has been collaborating with members of The Guttery. Some of her readings have been published by The Peace Corps Digital Library, The Oregon Literary Review and Show and Tell Gallery as well as featured on the site Love Outlives Us. She writes novels about what happens when the will of the individual and the collective muscle of a culture clash. Her latest novel, Only Ghosts, is about the changes to a village in Nepal during the democratic movement of 1990. More at

David Cooke was raised Catholic in Oakland, California, and now lives in Lake Oswego, Oregon. His debut poem Edges won the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize and was nominated for a 2010 Pushcart Prize. His work appears in Flatmancrooked, Hunger Mountain, A River & Sound Revie,w and in performances at the Blackbird Wine Shop, Show and Tell Gallery, Stonehenge Studio, and KBOO’s Talking Earth. He is also known as The Lawn Guy throughout Portland and Lake Oswego for his lawn maintenance business. Much of his current work is included in his forthcoming chapbook, Discretion.

Ragon Linde is a musician specializing in eclectic jazz. He plays the guitar, drums, and bass. Ragon moved to Portland in 2006 from Tulsa, Oklahoma where he lived most of his life. While in Oklahoma, Ragon played in a wide range of musical groups over the last 35 years whose styles included big band, psychedelic jazz, heavy metal, acoustic folk, classical, and western swing. Much of his work has been recorded and his latest album of work titled My Own Private Jihad can be found on his MySpace site,

Love Outlives Us

by The Moonlit Guttery Team

love outlives us like trees
love outlives us
like the air we breathe

A. Molotkov: text, spoken voice, vocals,
duduk, percussion, handsonic
Bruce Greene: text, spoken voice
Shawn Austin: text, spoken voice,
David Cooke: text, spoken voice
Ragon Linde: guitar, electric guitar,
percussion, musical direction
Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk: text,
vocals, spoken voice

Love Outlives Us

Peace Corps

50 years of Peace Corps volunteers tromping around the world. From 1990 to 1992, I worked in Nepal (PCN170) as a teacher, teacher trainer, women's health trainer, and smokeless stove builder. My novel, Only Ghosts, comes from this time. Also, I've written some articles about my service. My narrative essay, "Assimilation" can be found in the Peace Corps Digital Library. Happy 50th Anniversary, Peace Corps.


Sunday, August 29, 2010

The Guttery Website

My writing group, The Guttery, has finally gotten our own website.

What I like about the site is that we're blogging on it. So if you'd like to read what some writers think about the craft of writing, or what creative events are happening in Portland, Oregon, check out our site.

I'm excited about it.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Love Outlives Us to be performed on KBOO

Missed the Three Friends' Coffee House performance of Love Outlives Us?

Love Outlives Us by A. Molitkov's Moonlit Guttery Team will be performing on KBOO's Talking Earth.

Monday, June 14th
10:00pm - 11:00pm
Talking Earth
Hosted by: Barbara LaMorticella
Poetry, spoken arts, prose

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Peace Corps Nepal

Baglung Pani Miss
Recently, I've begun to write personal narratives. It is a nice break from writing fiction. Here's one about my experiences as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Nepal from 1990-1993.

The Baglung Pani Miss

A word of advice: avoid moving to a village where a volunteer preceded you.

When I moved to Baglung Pani, Andy Walker was my own personal Freddy Krueger, popping into every conversation, and shredding my every deed. At each “good morning,” people would point to the hostel next to the school and tell me, “Andy Walker built that. What are you going to build?” At noon, the woman who gave me tea would drill me with questions in rapid Nepalese and then announce, “You don’t speak as well as Andy Walker. He spoke Gurung too. When are you going to learn Gurung?” At dinner, I listened to my host family tell stories of Andy Walker’s humor and wit. I gritted my teeth through the nightmare of comparisons until the remarks grew less frequent and trickled to the occasional. I made friends with those who never knew Andy Walker and soon with those who did.

About a year into my stay, I was taking a bus back home from a training in Kathmandu when an older Nepali man offered his seat and asked me where I was going.

“Baglung Pani,” I answered. The man’s eyes lit up with a look I now recognized as the Andy Walker look and I sighed. “Yes, I know” I said flatly. “You met the volunteer there.”

“She is wonderful! Do you know the Baglung Pani Miss?” he asked, and before I could answer the man was off telling me about her perfect Nepalese, her sweet Gurung, her friendly nature, her wonderful singing voice, her skill with the children.

I sat up in my seat and beamed in anticipation of his delirious bubbling at discovering me. This was my moment of vindication! When the man slowed enough for me to get in a word, I exclaimed, “I’m the Baglung Pani Miss!”

The man’s smile faded. “Oh, no, you can’t be the Baglung Pani Miss,” he argued. “Your Nepali isn’t good! You can’t even speak Gurung.”

“No,” I said, at once indignant. “I am the Baglung Pani Miss!”

“That is not possible,” the man replied, equally adamant. “She is just like a Nepali, but look at you. You are not!”

I took a deep breath, ready for battle when Andy Walker came to mind. I sank back down and nodded. “You’re right.” The man huffed in agreement and turned away. I stared out the window so that the man could not see how giddy I looked.

Who was I to trifle with the myth of the Baglung Pani Miss?

To read other articles about my Peace Corps experience, click here.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

To My Father on His Birthday.

My sister started a new tradition in our family where, on a family member’s birthday, we each tell that person why he or she is special. This felt strange on my tongue the first time we did this for my mom’s birthday this last November. We’re not a family who gratuitously compliment, our compliments are shy; they hide within jokes, or are implicit in gestures. So, in anticipation of this new tradition for my dad’s 67th birthday party on Sunday, I thought I would write what is difficult for me to say.

All my life I hear the same phrase: you’re just like your father. In the childhood years I go without combing my hair; during my middle-school years when eons before environmentalism is trendy, I carry a lunchbox to school because it is less wasteful; in everyone’s fear that I choose to move as close to Manhattan as I can for college; in my mother’s anger that I decide to travel even farther to the Peace Corps; and in my poor family’s frustration when I marry someone no one thinks is right for me. All these times and more, I hear, in the face of my fierce purposefulness, you’re just like your father.

Pragmatic New Englander my father very much is, and very much is not. He works hard; his accomplishments are as vast as the cords of wood that corral the property of my childhood home in New Hampshire: the farmhouse in Jaffrey that takes years to restore, the antique cars, the maple syrup, stained glass, and every sort of home improvement. His ventures, however, I’ve come to realize, are not always the systematic or calculated moves of a pragmatist like, say Hilary Clinton. In fact, some of his decisions, like moving to North Carolina, are instinctual, even whimsical. In all of my dad’s choices, there is a commonality: a Thoreau-like call for a life well-lived. Dad and Thoreau would have been friends for more reasons than that they are from the same state. Dad’s life is testimony to Thoreau’s words, “Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” My dad does not leash himself to his lucrative computer programming job, nor to his place of birth, nor even to his homes that he painstakingly polishes to showcase beauty. Instead, my dad takes chances. Not all of them pan out--some rise to greatness while other shatter--but all of them are his legacy. His actions have taught me to value life, to create it, fight for it, and to pay stubborn attention to my visions.

My father walks a softer road in his love of family, and most importantly, his relationship with my mother which winds back as far as middle school. I know that many people say this, but in my father’s case it is true: he has never looked at another woman. When I was a kid, I watched women, married woman, fall all over themselves over my dad, and I watched his Ataturk-blue eyes seek refuge with my mother. My father has only ever had one best friend: Mom. To this day, he is uncomfortable when she is gone for too long. All three of his kids are solid committers. None of us have ever cheated on anyone, and all three have entered our relationships earnestly and with faith in our partners. That faith, that earnestness is a gift given to us by our parent’s marriage.

I have a little secret that should be shared on my dad’s 67th birthday—about time, right? I don’t mind when people tell me I’m acting like you. In truth, I’m proud that I’m just like you.
Happy birthday, Dad.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Support Haiti by giving to Partners In Health (PIH)

Haiti. You see the images, hear the appeals, and want to help. I recommend Partners in Health.

When I first heard about the devastation in Haiti, I immediately thought of the nonprofit, Partners in Health, founded by Dr. Paul Farmer and Ophelia Dahl. If you read Tracy Kidder's Mountains Beyond Mountains, which tells Paul Farmer's story and his enduring commitment to health care in Haiti,then you surely had the same thought as me: give to Partners in Health. No aid organization understands the health needs in Haiti as well.

According to an e-mail I received from PIH, "the PIH/Zanmi Lasante team was designated by the World Health Organization to serve as the coordinators of the public hospital, Hopital de l' Universite d'Etat d'Haiti" PIH team members were some of the first on the scene, they have one of the best health care infrastructures in Haiti, they're recognized by the World Health Organization and, most importantly, they are respected by the Haitian people.

Find out more about PIH, what they're doing, what they need, and how to contribute by going to this site: PIH IN HAITI

If you don't want to take my word for Partners in Health, here's an article that ran in the St. Petersburg Times

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Join Us At Three Friends Coffee House

Coming February 8: CAFFEINATED ART #80 – A. Molotkov, Bruce Greene and the Moonlit Guttery Poetry Team – “Love Outlives Us”

7 p.m., Three Friends Coffee House
SE 12th and Ash, Portland, Oregon
Love Outlives Us

A. Molotkov, Bruce Greene
and the Moonlit Guttery Team
an evening of words with music

Bruce Greene:
text, spoken voice

The Team:

Shawn Austin:
text, spoken voice
David Cooke:
text, spoken voice
Ragon Linde:
guitar, electric guitar, percussion, musical direction
Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk:
text, vocals, spoken voice

A. Molotkov:
text, spoken voice, vocals, duduk, percussion, handsonic

Luke Lefler:

Based on texts by A. Molotkov, Bruce Greene, Shawn Austin, David Cooke and Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk, “Love Outlives Us” is a symbolic exploration of the value and meaning of a human life, the character-defining nature of human interaction, and each individual’s responsibility for the world in which they conspire to exist. The tone of this performance is balanced around a stark contrast between A. Molotkov’s mysterious and laconic verses and Bruce Greene’s real life stories, in this case his experiences as a teacher in the years following the war in Vietnam. Shawn Austin, David Cooke and Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk contribute their own unique visions to make up a whole that has a sense of unity, despite its many edges. Ragon Linde’s musical contribution and several sung compositions by A. Molotkov expand the palette. Backed up by music, words acquire a greater levity, contributing to the listener’s ability to be entranced and whisked away on an hour-long tour of self-discovery through meaning and metaphor. Several audience participation numbers allow the listeners to become part of the performance in a more tangible way than possible in a passive listening mode. “Love Outlives Us” seeks to engage the audience on all levels, to ask questions that will linger in one’s mind long after the performers have left the stage.

love outlives us

like trees

love outlives us

like the air we breathe

Bruce Greene, David Cooke, Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk and A. Molotkov are members of The Guttery,

Shawn Austin and A. Molotkov are the founding members of The Moonlit Poetry Caravan,

Luke Lefler is the Digital Media Producer for Show and Tell Gallery.

Bruce Greene

Bruce Greene taught English, history, and psychology in the Bay Area for many years. He now works with beginning teachers at Marylhurst University. In his eclectic writing career, Bruce has been a correspondent for a national thoroughbred horse magazine and published everything from poetry and educational research to creative non-fiction and memoir. He is always looking for another river to fly fish, coffeehouses conducive to writing, and an agent for his recently completed memoir, Above This Wall: The Life and Times of a VISTA Volunteer 1969-70.

Shawn Austin

Shawn Austin would like to thank his wife for putting up with and supporting him. A poet first, Shawn draws on an eclectic approach to poetry stemming from work in the Social Services, Mental Health field, and also from his youth where he credits his poetry, “Being nurtured from the kneecaps of parties.” Much of those perspectives can be found operating in his poetry today. Shawn sees great poetry much like the kitchen, patio, refrigerator, or a toilet; “An inflected space” in a strange house where the reader steps into and interacts. Shawn is a founding member of a poetry meetup group in Portland called “The Moonlit Poetry Caravan” and has started an artistic movement in poetry, called “Inflectionism.”

David Cooke

David Cooke is an award winning poet living in Lake Oswego, Oregon. His poems have been described as vivid, assured, startling, sustained, lucid, satisfying, lyrical, gorgeous, beautiful, and mysterious. The poems are complexly layered while preserving a first reading cohesiveness. His facility at blending everyday language, puns, and natural images with the scientific, mythical, and religious is enviable. “Edges” received the Ruth Stone Poetry Prize in 2009. “Mentimos Cuando SoƱamos” and “Elliptic” will appear in Discretion, the first collection of his poetry. He hopes that you will be quite smitten with each poem.

Italics drawn from written comments by Charles Atkinson, Miciah Bay Gault, and the staff at Hunger Mountain Journal.

Ragon Linde

Ragon Linde is a musician specializing in eclectic jazz. He plays the guitar, drums, and bass. Ragon moved to Portland in 2006 from Tulsa, Oklahoma where he lived most of his life. While in Oklahoma, Ragon played in a wide range of musical groups over the last 35 years whose styles included big band, psychedelic jazz, heavy metal, acoustic folk, classical, and western swing. Much of his work has been recorded and his latest album of work titled My Own Private Jihad can be found on his MySpace site. Ragon is particularly excited about the February 8th performance as this is his first since moving to Portland three years ago.

Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk

Before landing in Portland, Carrie-Ann Tkaczyk lived all over. She learned kickboxing in Turkey, faced-off with a rhino in Nepal, discussed the weather with Queen Elizabeth in England, and was chastised by Mother Theresa in India. She’s now proud to declare herself a coffee mug carryin’, microbrew drinkin’, Powell browsin’, environmental stumpin’, trail hikin’ Portlander. She writes novels about the adventures that occur when the will of the individual and the collective muscle of a culture clash.

A. Molotkov

A. Molotkov is a writer, composer, filmmaker and visual artist. He lives in constant stress, torn between a multitude of projects in various art forms – way too many for any one sane individual to handle. Born in Russia, he moved to the US in 1990 and switched to writing in English in 1993. He is the author of several novels, short story and poetry collections and the winner of the 2008 E. M. Koeppel Short Fiction Award. The winning story “Round Trip” has been nominated for the 2009 Pushcart Award and accepted by Intramel for publication in Italian. A. Molotkov’s poetry and short stories have appeared in over a dozen publications, both in print and online. His inclination to break the rules and his interest towards blending art forms tend to get him in trouble a lot, including the challenging performance of Love Outlives Us. Visit him at if you have an hour or a week to spare.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

An Anonymous Poem From Iran

Iran has one of the richest cultures in the world. I have hope for Iran. I have hope.

Nelson Mandela's favorite singers

After watching Invictus, I was struck by the strength of forgiveness. Anger is easy, but to be soft in the face of anger and righteousness is difficult. I couldn't sleep, so I read up on Nelson Mandela--one of my heroes. And I learned that while in prison for those 28 years, he was deprived of music. Today one of his greatest pleasures is to listen to music while watching a sunset, specifically classical. He said that one of his favorite singers is Paul Robeson.

Here's a link where you can hear Robeson and read a bit of this New Jersey native's own struggles.

Paul Robeson

When I talk about South Africa and music, I have to add a link to a video of one of my favorite songs by South Africa's Johnny Clegg. Listening to this reminds me of road trips with my friend Marianne. It is a touching song and a great story.

I Never Betrayed The Revolution