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Category: Reviews

“Poetry Has a New Name”

 “Salem’s art scene is untapped. Portland—forget about it. It’s like elbowing into a crowded sardine can. But not here. This is a river you can leap into, and create a great literary scene.”

Henry Hughes, in an interview with the Salem Weeklybunchofanimals

Click here to read my recent article in the Salem Weekly‘s Art section, discussing our local poetry community.

The article weaves through an insightful interview with the ever gracious poet and author, Henry Hughes, who has just released a new collection of poetry, Bunch of Animals, as well as a memoir, Back Seat with Fish. Hughes’ writing continues to capture his ongoing love affair with fishing, people, nature, and the Pacific Northwest in exquisite detail and accuracy. Both his poetry and his nonfiction are highly recommended. You can read reviews for Hughes’ Back Seat with Fish by clicking here. For reviews on Bunch of Animals, click here. Both books are available for purchase on

(Cover image for Bunch of Animals is an original piece by local artist Gregory Poulin.)

Book Review: “Back Seat with Fish” by Henry Hughes

Back Seat with Fish
I had the immense pleasure of reading and reviewing a new work of nonfiction, released by Skyhorse Publishing earlier this month. Back Seat with Fish is a refreshing take on the fishing memoir, written by the magnanimous Henry Hughes. Hughes’ book is dynamic and engaging, plunging into the art of angling, of navigating relationships and traveling the world. There is no shortage of entertainment, nor thoughtful execution. Hughes is a brilliant storyteller, reviving the once-unpalatable genre of ‘the fishing memoir’ for men and women of all ages and origins to enjoy. Click here to read the full review on Amazon before purchasing a copy for yourself or for a friend. (There’s no such thing as buyer’s remorse when a novel is this good.) #supportlocal


Cória Estates: A Review

Sunny vineyardThat particular Tuesday was an Adventure Day, which means I pack up a small bag of essentials (typewriter, book, pen, paper, sunscreen and sunglasses) and follow the call of my wanderlust muse, wherever she may lead me. On this particular summer day, I knew my destination would be wine country–the sunny, cloudless sky just begged for it. When most Salemites think of local ‘wine country’ we immediately imagine the West Salem hills, which are famous for their numerous small-batch wineries offering Oregon’s staple Pinot Noir.

But today…today I am introducing you to a little boutique winery (without the boutique price tag) in the South Salem hills by the name of “Cória Estates.” I will be reviewing and discussing their wines, their tasting room and amenities, their event options, and a few other notable tidbits I experienced during my visit.

Sisters Irish Bistro Review

Another St. Patrick’s Day came and went this past Monday, and in true, own-your-ginger-heritage style, I chose to don green, tame my redhead mane, and go out to partake of all the Irish fare possible. Irish food and spirits run aplenty in the rainy, emerald isles of our Willamette Valley. I was thrilled to hear that there would be a new Irish Restaurant opening in downtown Salem just in time for the festive holiday.

Sisters Irish Bistro is co-owned and operated by a mother-daughter team, Judith Moss and Tena Khonizy, respectively. The Bistro is located in the Reed Opera House and offers small plate appetizers, salad, soup, lunch and dinner entrees, and dessert. The bistro also boasts a full-service coffee bar.

Upon entering the restaurant in its quaint location on the bottom floor of the Reed, I can instantly see the potential. Lit by bright yet tasteful lamplight, I take in the old stone-and-mortar walls, vintage-style stained glass windows, rustic mahogany beams and tables, and fancy faux fireplace; they have carved out the perfect location for an authentic Irish Bistro in the heart of our capital.

Moss and Khonizy share their heritage with pride in providing genuine Irish cuisine from recipes that have been in their family for generations. The simple menu includes the traditional Irish meals: Corned Beef & Cabbage, Bangers & Mash, and Irish Beef Stew, all averaging around $10 per entrée. Appetizers include salad and soup of the day, while the dessert bar flaunts four different Irish-style cakes (Irish Oatmeal, Apple Rum, Carrot, and Irish Fantasy).

The Lego Movie: Everything Was Awesome

Take an all-star voice acting cast, mix in the timeless usage of stop-motion filming, a dash of CGI, an unexpected pinch of live-action, and an overabundance of the most classic toy of all time. Piece them together and behold: The LEGO Movie. (Be still, my childlike heart!)

Photo courtesy of

Released in the U.S. on February 7th by Warner Bros. Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures, I immediately bought tickets for the first LEGO movie ever produced to witness history in the making. I initially assumed I would experience a typical, feel-good, cutesy animated film, which I was willing to endure due to the star-strewn cast. With names and voices equally recognizable, the picture includes movie icons Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, Will Farrell, and Will Arnett, which guaranteed an above-average film at the least. However, I soon learned I should leave my expectations in the lobby.

Indeed, the film begins like every other feature…but immediately accelerates from zero to 60 in a matter of seconds. From the epic, over-the-top introduction to the jaw-dropping surprise ending, the creators rev up the fast-paced plotline to entertain even the most skeptical of movie-goers. There is so much happening all at once, with such colorful and creative mastery of LEGO animation, it is impossible to do anything but smile and hold on to your seat.

Red Rehab to Relapse

Denison Label
Courtesy of

Musings from the West Side Wine Store

(from one of my previous jobs, yet also my favorite with so many good memories)

About a year ago I realized I was utterly “burned-out” on pinot noir. For some people, this happens and is an understandable palate change on our wine tasting journey. However, for someone working in the wine industry, living smack-dab in the epicenter of Willamette Valley pinot noir country, this was a travesty. I mean, for goodness sake, about a third of our reds at the wine shop are pinot noir because of all the local wineries who harvest the grape. I was backwards. My palate needed help.

I went into rehab (of the wine sort) to get me turned back on to reds. So I spent some time timidly trying out the heftier red wines of our northwest region, and even foreign vintages, delving deeper into the fuller and richer, darker and heavier reds that I couldn’t “handle” during my year-long pinot noir love-affair. I welcomed the change, and appreciated that my nose, tongue, and stomach didn’t reject the more complex reds as before. And I settled into a happy, red routine once more.

Until Tim Wilson came along.

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