Silk Road Assistant Editor: Katie Fairchild

Katie Fairchild photoMajor: Creative Writing; Editing and Publishing, English Literature minors

Graduation year: 2016

Hometown: Port Angeles, WA

What do you look for in a Silk Road piece or in any writing?

I tend to look for something that stands out. Of course, clean grammar and sentence structure are important, but it doesn’t matter if a piece doesn’t grab my interest. In a poem, I want to be compelled to read to the next line. Fiction and nonfiction should have me eagerly turning pages until I’m disappointed that it’s run out. I’ve seen plenty of well-written pieces come my way that I won’t pass up because the writer never found the plot.

On the flipside, a piece needs to have more than just a gripping plot. In my opinion, vivid imagery is a key part of good writing, especially in pieces for Silk Road.

If you could have any job once you graduate, what would you love to do? Money is no object.

I would love to be a professional Sasquatch hunter if Sasquatch actually existed. But really, as cheesy as it sounds, I think I’m on-track to do what I love regardless of money. I plan on going to grad school on the east coast and working my way up the ranks of a big-name book publishing company. It’s true – when I grow up, I want to be Sandra Bullock from The Proposal. Silk Road is preparing me for my inevitable domination. I suppose if that didn’t pan out and I still had unlimited money, I’d go down to Hollywood and be a writer or show-runner for my own tv show. The format has always appealed to me, partly because I love writing dialogue and partly because (sadly) television reaches a much broader audience than books do, and it makes me giddy to think about multimillions of people knowing my writing.

Do you have any authors or pieces of literature that inspire you?

I’ve always had a fondness for Ernest Hemingway and Raymond Carver. Their clipped, direct styles have had a huge influence on the way I write creatively. Perhaps it’s better to say that I’ve been influence by Carver’s editor, because that’s who was responsible for Carver’s signature staccato style.  I’m also a fan of local legend Chuck Palahniuk because of his blend of the dark with the humorous – all of my writing has a touch of that. I also want to note that I was exposed to some pretty dark pieces during a developmental stage in my writing – Roald Dahl’s “The Landlady” and “Lamb to the Slaughter,” Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery”, that sort of thing. All of that has unquestionably had an influence on what I like in a piece of writing and what I like to write about myself. Thank my sixth grade teacher for that.

What does Silk Road embody to you? What words would you use to describe Silk Road to someone who knows nothing about it?

Silk Road, to me, is a publication about people. It is a gathering place for people and their stories, and for other people to hear about their experiences. It’s an opportunity for people to open their eyes to the world around them, one page at a time.

Ruth Ozeki Event

Event Correspondent: Katie Fairchild

“Portland is a town of readers and eaters,” Ozeki began. “You are my tribe.” Which is exactly why Silk Road Review attended acclaimed novelist Ruth Ozeki’s talk at the Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall, hosted by Literary Arts. In the lobby of the historic building, we got to promote our past issues, as well as our upcoming Asia issue, for which we are still taking submissions. We were also eager to support Ruth Ozeki, who had already wormed her way into our collective hearts through her brilliant writing. Just as we suspected, Ozeki endeared herself to all in attendance from the moment she opened her mouth.

Ozeki’s most recent novel, A Tale for the Time Being, is about a 16-year-old Japanese girl and her journey of self-discovery. It is about time-being. It is about connection with one’s family, which in protagonist Nao’s case means connecting with her 104-year-old anarchist feminist zen Buddhist nun of a Grandmother and the ghost of her kamikaze pilot Great-uncle.

And what exactly is a time-being? Ozeki addressed that in her talk, which was part of the annual Portland Arts & Lectures series, co-sponsored by Pacific University. Ozeki primarily referenced Dogen Zenji and his concept of “uji”. She explained that uji has many different translations and meaning based on inflection. For us and our context, it means “time being,” but Ozeki says that it is a word that refuses to settle. The word has a spirit of its own. This is especially apropos when put in the context of A Tale for the Time Being. People, places, spirits, and the concept of time itself are all fluid. Why would language be any different?

Ruth Ozeki has one of the best endings to a lecture of all time. She led over 2,000 people through meditation. Not only was the audience obediently quiet, but they were actively engaged in the art of mediation for a solid five minutes. I don’t think I’ve ever been more relaxed than I was in those moments. Even the person next to me, who had been less than thrilled to mediate, turned to me at the end of the session and said, “That was exactly what I needed.”

Overall, Ruth Ozeki’s talk was phenomenal. How great was it? you may ask. You’ll just have to take my word for it, at least for the time being.