‘This American Life’ writer Vowell to appear Monday night

Centrum hosts Communiversity lecture series

Shelly Leavens. (Photo courtesy of Centrum)
 Sarah Vowell. (Photo courtesy of Owen Brooker)

Shelly Leavens. (Photo courtesy of Centrum) Sarah Vowell. (Photo courtesy of Owen Brooker)

PORT TOWNSEND —Shortly after arriving in her new home, 11-year-old Sarah Vowell watched her dad leap out of his chair and grab a BB gun.

He’d heard a noise, so he ran outside and found the source. Crows.

He took some shots at them before his wife called, “Pat, you might ought to check, but I don’t think they do that up here!”

This was circa 1981.

Vowell’s family had just moved from Braggs, Okla., to Bozeman, Mont., and this memory starts one of the essays in her book, “Take the Cannoli.”

“About the only thing my father and I agree on,” she writes, “is the Constitution, though I’m partial to the First Amendment, while he’s always favored the Second.”

The author, actor and contributor to public radio’s “This American Life” is the next speaker in Centrum’s Communiversity lecture series, presented online at 5:30 p.m. today. Tickets are $15 at Centrum.org; patrons will receive a Zoom link. For more information, phone the Centrum office at 360-385-3102.

“I love how she brings humor into her work in unexpected ways,” said Shelly Leavens, who will serve as moderator of Vowell’s discussion.

As executive director of the Jefferson County Historical Society and the Jefferson Museum of Art & History, Leavens is eager to connect with Vowell, who’s written a fistful of unconventional history books.

They include “The Wordy Shipmates,” her New York Times best-seller about the Puritans in America; “Unfamiliar Fishes,” an exploration of Hawaii’s past and present; “The Partly Cloudy Patriot,” an essay collection, and her latest, “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States,” about the teenage Marquis de Lafayette, along with the ideas behind the American Revolution.

Vowell also has added her voice to “The Incredibles” (2004) and “Incredibles 2” (2018), in which she played Violet Parr, superheroine daughter of Bob and Helen Parr.

“As a writer, I’m most interested in her writing process, so I’ll ask some questions around that, but I’ve got all kinds of silly questions up my sleeve as well,” Leavens said.

“I’m excited to meet her and honored to have been asked by Centrum,” to facilitate the conversation.

Leavens herself is an artist, oral historian and long-distance hiker. Last year one of the projects she shepherded at the Jefferson Museum of Art & History was “Dear 2020.”

In it, she and the museum staff invited local residents to write postcards to that pandemic year, and to send them to the museum for a potential exhibit.

That exhibit is on display now. Some 160 postcards came in; visitors can view their messages at the museum, which is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Fridays through Sundays at 540 Water St.

“I’d love to know how [Vowell’s] COVID year has been, and maybe what she would write in her own Dear 2020 postcard,” Leavens said.


Jefferson County senior reporter Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-417-3509 or [email protected]

Sarah Vowell   photo  by Owen Brooker

More in News

“Silent Moment” is one of the photo stories Sequim artist and educator Marina Shipova has created through her work. She was chosen as the Art Fellow for the City of Sequim’s “Sequim Understory” project to help convey Sequim’s story to residents. It coincides with a potential project at the northeast corner of the Sequim Avenue/Washington Street intersection. (Photo courtesy of Marina Shipova)
Sequim live for feedback on downtown Sequim corner

Artist chosen to share photo stories

Peninsula virus cases hit plateau

Health officers still urge caution

Rachel and Daniel Shyles were among nearly 30 people to attend a COVID-19 popup clinic at Barhop Brewing and Taproom for a free beer to go along with a free vaccine. Rachel got her second shot of Moderna vaccine on Saturday. Daniel said he already had two inoculations. The service was provided by the Clallam County Health and Human Services department. (Dave Logan/for Peninsula Daily News)
Free beer with vaccine

Rachel and Daniel Shyles were among nearly 30 people to attend a… Continue reading

For the first time in a year, the Tuff as Nails rowing team took the Blue Streak for a sun-splashed spin in Port Townsend Bay on Monday morning. Coming back in are Nikki Russell, facing front at left, Barb Hager and Christine Edwards; on the other side of the boat are Mari Friend and Zoe Ann Dudley. (Diane Urbani de la Paz/Peninsula Daily News)
Back on the water

For the first time in a year, the Tuff as Nails rowing… Continue reading

Port Townsend Police Chief Thomas Olson started work last week. Some of his goals include getting the department more involved with the community and increasing the diversity among officers. (Zach Jablonski/Peninsula Daily News)
Police chief starts position

Olson working on community connections

Clallam County eyes equity agenda

Broadband one area identified

Drug overdoses skyrocket in state amid COVID

More people in Washington state died of drug overdoses in… Continue reading

Peninsula numbers leveling, but state cases may take a few more weeks

Super-spreaders blamed for 135 infections, official says

Traffic delays scheduled Thursday on U.S. Highway 101 at Bagley Creek

Work crews will be placing six 81-foot girders across… Continue reading

Most Read