We travel to the Wallowas for a live show at the annual gathering about writing and the West, with guests Timothy Egan, Erika Wurth, Sherwin Bitsui and more.

Every summer, writers from all over the country head to the base of the towering Wallowa Mountains for Summer Fishtrap, a conference about writing and the West. This year, they celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of one of the festival’s founders, the journalist and historian Alvin Josephy, with the theme “Hidden From History: Stories We Haven’t Heard, Stories We Haven’t Told.”

We couldn’t resist the draw of a roadtrip to the mountains, so we invited a number of Fishtrap founders and visiting writers to join us for a live show at the Josephy Center for Arts and Culture.

Rose Caslar, Rich Wandschneider, Kim Stafford and host April Baer at the live Fishtrap taping.

Rose Caslar, Rich Wandschneider, Kim Stafford and host April Baer at the live Fishtrap taping.

Aaron Scott /OPB

  • A round table with festival founders Kim Stafford (writer and Lewis and Clark professor) and Rich Wandschneider (former longtime Fishtrap director and now head of the Josephy library), as well as festival board president Rose Caslar, a Wallowa County native who took her first Fishtrap class at 15. They talk about Josephy’s influence, the place of Western writing, the reaction to hanging a four-point buck rack in a Lewis and Clark College dormitory and the area’s troubled relationship with its original inhabitants, the Nez Perce.
  • 13:30 - Josephy Center director Cheryl Coughlan tells us about how the center helps to culture a creative life in a rural community. 
  • 17:56 - Keynote speaker Timothy Egan discusses reporting on stories hidden in plain site. Best known for his National Book Award–winning “The Worst Hard Time,” chronicling Dust Bowl stories, Egan has also written about the photographer Edward Curtis, the wildfire that gave rise to the U.S. Forest Service and western issues of all types for his regular op-eds in the “New York Times.”
  • 25:10 - We venture to Fishtrap’s lodge for a youth workshop on writing hip-hop theater with poet Myrlin Hepworth.
  • 29:10 - Roberta Connor, the director of the Tamastlikt Cultural Institute whose family includes Nez Perce, Umatilla and Cayuse ancestry, was invited to Fishtrap to talk about what happens when Native stories are told by white writers and to share some of the hidden stories that speak most deeply to her.
Sherwin Bitsui and Erika Wurth with April Baer.

Sherwin Bitsui and Erika Wurth with April Baer.

Reuben Unrau /OPB

  • 36:57 - We close with a discussion with two of this year’s most rambunctious workshop leaders, writers Erika Wurth and Sherwin Bitsui. Wurth, who is Apache, Chickasaw and Cherokee, most recently published “Crazy Horse’s Girlfriend” and is working on a novel about Native gangs. Bitsui is a Diné from the Navajo Reservation in White Cone, Arizona, and his most recent poetry collection, “Floodsong,” won the American Book Award and the PEN Open Book Award.

The music in this week’s show comes from Tony Furtado’s newest album, “The Bell.” Furtado has a slew of Oregon shows coming up, including one near the Wallowas at Enterprise’s OK Theater on July 30.