The final WordFest for 2022 highlights history, memory and horror

The final WordFest program for 2022 will be held on November 8 from 18:00 to 20:00 at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, 1428 22nd Ave., Longview. The free event is open to the public.

Civil War historian and retired Kelso history teacher John Simpson will read from his sixth book, All for the Union, based on 180 war letters donated to the Cowlitz Count Historical Museum in 2014.

John Simpson

The communication was written by two brothers and two sisters-in-law to their sisters and wives in western New York. The four soldiers fought in every major battle in the Eastern theater from Bull Run to Petersburg, according to a press release provided to The Daily News.

The Ellithorpe family’s letters “give a glimpse into the daily lives of soldiers in the Army of the Potomac and on the front lines they were sworn to protect,” the release states.

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Simpson grew up in Long Island, New York; and in Edmonds, Washington. The son of Scottish immigrants, his love of Civil War history began when he visited Gettysburg National Military Park during the Civil War Centennial celebration.

He received his PhD in Civil War history from the University of Oregon. He also wrote extensively about minor league baseball during the “Dead Ball Era” from 1900 to 1920.

Caroline Kurtz will read The Road Called Both Ways, her memoir of growing up in Ethiopia. He will also read from his second memoir, Today Is Tomorrow, about his return to the region in the midst of a brutal civil war.

Caroline Kurtz

Caroline Kurtz

Kurtz is a bicultural citizen who grew up “absorbing the sights, sounds, smells and customs of Africa,” the press release notes, and has returned with her husband and three children to Sudan, where she teaches, advocates for women and supports peace-building efforts between Ethiopia and Ethiopia.

He is fluent in the Ethiopian Amharic language and has organized community-run projects for sheep banks, beekeeping and apple orchards. He collected money for schools in Muslim villages.

She lives in Portland and continues to work with Portland community leaders to bring solar energy, clean water and women’s empowerment to the region, according to a press release.

Debz Briske

Debz Briske

Debz Briske will be reading from her book “Image of Fear”. At 2 a.m. on December 8, 1922, a large portion of the coastal town was destroyed by a fire of unknown origin during a rainstorm in Astoria. In 2007, the recession hit. Using two historical events, Briske tells about Tobias, a troubled teenage boy living in 1922 and Madison, a lonely girl living in 2007, how fear shapes their lives and those around them.

Briske tells and writes stories about psychological and paranormal horror, personal monologues.

She works in health care, enjoys baking and gardening, and sharing ghost stories, the press release states.

Novelist and WordFest coordinator Alan Rose will present a different approach to memoir writing.

“Any human life is made up of many transformative moments,” he is quoted in the release. “But trying to make sense of these moments and find some meaning can be very difficult,” she said.

His approach will help people isolate and identify their most important memories.

Alan Rose

Alan Rose

Rose is the author of three published novels and one novella. His AIDS novel As if Called Death won the 2021 Foreward INDIES (small independent publishers) Book of the Year Award in the LGBT category.

Rose is also the host and producer of local outlet KLTV’s Book Chat and reviews books for the Columbia River Reader.

Presentations are followed by an open microphone.

Due to COVID-19, participants are advised to be vaccinated and boosted if possible, and to wear masks when not eating or drinking.

For more information about WordFest, which meets on the second Tuesday of each month in the fellowship hall of St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church, contact Alan Rose through his website at

Contact Nancy Edwards at 360-577-2544 or


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