In 2001, Ellen Waterston (or, Ellie, as her friends call her) launched Nature of Words, a literary nonprofit in Bend. Although she's since stepped aside to focus on other projects—like her recent verse novel, "Vía Làctea," which is being released Nov. 15—Waterston remains committed to the organization's mission and continues to stay involved through various programs, such as the Nature of Words' annual Literary Festival.
At this year's event, Waterston will be leading a workshop in which she'll discuss her new collection of poetry and explain the artful process behind the making of "Vía Làctea."
The book, whose title translates to "Milky Way," is a fictionalized version of Waterston's own pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago in Spain. The Camino represents the ancient routes so heavily used by pilgrims as they trekked across Europe. And the title comes from the belief that the dust kicked up by the pilgrims' feet formed the Milky Way, which, on the Camino, is always directly overhead.
Of course the thoughtful, varied poetry is a draw in and of itself, but the book's construction is equally impressive. Waterston worked with Atelier 6000, a local printmaking nonprofit, to create a limited edition art book, complete with original hand-pulled engravings and handset typography. Only 50 copies were produced and each will sell for approximately $1,000.
"It's really like buying a painting," Waterston said. A soft cover version will also be available.
After she sees through the release of "Vía Làctea," Waterston is planning on leading writing retreats in Mexico and Spain before launching off on a "bigger prose project." Meanwhile, the celebrated Bend author continues to teach creative writing at Central Oregon Community College and at St. Charles' Cancer Center while hosting additional workshops at the Writing Ranch, which Waterson founded in 2000.
Brown Bag Lunch Workshop, Saturday, Nov. 9 at OSU-Cascades Campus, Cascades Hall, 11:15 am-12:45 pm. $35.