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David Rutiezer was raised in Illinois and Massachusetts, the grandchild of Jewish immigrants. He sings and plays keyboard and ukulele, has studied music therapy, and since 2004 has been performing and developing The David Show, an interactive musical variety program for everyone from folks with Alzheimer’s to families with young children. David has performed and taught Israeli and International folk dancing for all ages, abilities, and backgrounds. A 2012 graduate of the Rainier Writing Workshop MFA, David’s poems have appeared in Drash and Harpur Palate. He lives in Portland, Oregon, where he has volunteered for Friends of William Stafford, Cascade Festival of African Films and the Oregon Holocaust Memorial.
Sylvia Zingeser is the mother of two sons. Aaron Walters, who was gay, died from AIDS in 1992. Her youngest son, Ben, lives with bi-polar and schizo-effective disorder since the late 1990’s. Sylvia had long conversations with Aaron while Aaron was living with AIDS. She didn’t want to forget those conversations as she knew they would too soon come to an end. She started writing down their conversations, and at one point she decided it was time to take a writing class. She stayed in writing, poetry, and editing and publishing classes at Portland Community College’s Sylvania Campus in Portland, Oregon until she self-published her collection of short stories and poetry, Scared of That, Living While Dying of AIDS, under the her Hebrew name, Ariela Press. Shortly after the publication of Scared of That, her youngest son became ill. She has become an advocate for people with mental illness. She will tell you that she learned how to be an advocate from Aaron, who was very active as an advocate for people with HIV/AIDS. Sylvia is a member of National Alliance for Mental Illness Multnomah (NAMI Multnomah), and serves on of the Training Advisory Council for the Portland Police Bureau. Sylvia resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, William M.B. Summerlight.
Pat Vivian was raised in Michigan and kept moving west until she saw the Columbia Gorge and made the Pacific Northwest her home. She has worked as a technical writer, journalist, forest fire lookout, hospice caregiver, shelter volunteer and educational assistant for kids with developmental disabilities. Her poems have appeared in Calyx, Talus and Scree, the Oregonian, Twelve Oregon Poets and other Northwest journals and anthologies. Her chapbook A Luminous Trail Through the Wilderness was published by 26 Books/Unnum Press. Pat has served as an editor for Portlandia Press and for Fireweed: Poetry of Oregon.
Marla Allen (who won’t be appearing but whose poetry will also be read in her absence) grew up in Orange County, California. She has lived in San Francisco since 1986, and currently shares an apartment with her cat, Oscar. Marla has been living with AIDS since 1988. She spends her days trying to stay healthy, going to doctor appointments, groups, and alternative specialists, and striving for a stress-free, positive life. Over the years, Marla has traveled to North and Central America, the Middle East, Africa, Europe, New Zealand, and Australia. Marla is a jewelry designer, working mostly with semi-precious stones and crystals. She attended the Art Institutes in San Francisco, where she studied graphic design and web design. She currently volunteers her time as an HIV testing counselor.
Stephen Earl Murray, Jr. grew up on Alison Hill in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. His biological parents were writers, too. He likes the stage at Tres Desperado’s because it’s like an auction block. Stephen has been writing since he was about 6 years old, and he’s toured with a lot of well-known international artists.
Wom Smith is visiting from Montana and he makes God-Conscious art.