Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71 ) Teaches Dangerous Writing

The sixth Poets & Writers Live event was held at the Pacific Northwest College of Art’s Mediatheque Theater on October 17, 2015 in Portland, Oregon. The editors of many of the area’s presses and literary magazines joined the editors of Poets & Writers Magazine to explore the art of writing and the business of independent publishing. One of the speakers was Tom Spanbauer (Kenya 1969-71), author of Faraway Places, The Man Who Fell In Love With The Moon, In The City of Shy Hunters, Now Is the Hour, and, most recently, I Loved You More (Hawthorne Books, 2014) winner of the 2014 Lambda Literary Award. He presented a talk on Dangerous Writing, an innovative approach to writing that forms the basis of the workshop he has been teaching in his basement classroom in Portland for years.

Dangerous Writing, Tom says, “is to go to parts of ourselves that we know exist but try to ignore–parts that are sad, sore; parts that are silent, an heavy. Taboo. Things that won’t leave us alone.” To be human, Tom goes onto say, “is to be engaged in an enormous battle within yourself. There is no one who is human who is not in battle.”

Therefore, write about it. At least 40 of Tom’s students have gone onto publish books.

His talk is excerpted in the current issue of Poets & Writers, January/February issue, 2016 that was delivered at the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. ( on October 17, 2015.

In his address he focuses at one point on technology and says, in part:tom_spanbauer1

We as writers today, as every other writer in every other age, must take the road not taken. But we of the technological age have a particular obstacle. We can’t pretend to believe that technology will do the work for us. Don’t fool yourselves, the robot of technology cannot take on the Dark Angel. Technology dictates limits, aspires to efficiency. Technology does not conjure, or disclose. Technology can help us confuse or disclose, but that is the extent of it.

At the heart of technology there is no heart.

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