Tom Durkin
Special to Prospector

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November 14, 2013
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Molly Fisk, an accidental poet at Nevada Theatre Friday

Sadly, there will be no live chickens or belly dancing, as previously announced, at the Molly Fisk & Friends show Friday night at the Nevada Theatre.

Nevertheless, the show must go on.

“We’re just going to do it,” Molly Fisk vowed during a Tuesday interview in her cozy little home just outside Nevada City.

“I love belly dancing. I think it’s hilarious,” said Fisk, an avid dancer. However, “The belly dancing didn’t work out,” she shrugged, stroking Obsidian, her cat with “too many toes.”

As for the chickens, “They fall asleep,” she laughed.

Besides, it takes about three hours to properly blow dry a chicken, according to her young 4-H source.

Molly Fisk & Friends is the only literary event in the Nevada City Live! series of concerts and plays being presented by longtime Nevada County musician and producer Paul Emery.

Fisk and her friends — sans chickens and belly dancers — will present an evening of eclectic literature and music centered around Fisk’s poems and readings from her latest book, “Blow-Drying a Chicken: Observations from a Working Poet.”

Joining her on stage will be local poets Maxima Kahn and Kirsten Casey, as well as short-story writer Kate Dwyer.

Maggie McKaig and Luke Wilson of Beaucoup Chapeaux will provide musical interludes as Petite Chapeaux, and KVMR DJ Chris Towne will play a tune or few on his Jew’s harp.

Not just words on paper

Successful writers not only write well, they read what they wrote well, and Fisk has had nine years of practice. Ever since October 2004, she has been reading three-minute essays on community radio KVMR every week during the Thursday News Hour (approximately 6:25 p.m.).

The essays have become so popular that the Corporation for Public Broadcasting gave KVMR the funding to distribute her essays nationally to other independent community radio stations, reported KVMR Program Manager Steve Baker.

“We feel (her essays) resonate not only here but have a delightful, quirky appeal to national audiences who share our collective values and smiles,” he added.

So far, stations in California, Wisconsin, Colorado and Illinois have picked up her commentaries, and Fisk said she plans to visit them all this spring as part of her self-booked marketing tour.

“I’m taking over the world one community radio station at a time,” she joked Tuesday.

Meanwhile, she’s already placed “Blowing Drying a Chicken” in 20 independent bookstores from here to Boston, not to mention online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Although this is her first book of essays, “Blow Drying” is also her second CD of KVMR commentaries. She released “Using Your Turn Signal Promotes World Peace” in 2005.

Sliding down the ladder of success

Fisk did not start out to be an award-winning poet. A cum laude graduate of Radcliffe/Harvard, the San Francisco native went on to earn a master’s in business administration with honors from Simmons College Graduate School of Management.

At age 35, she had an epiphany: She really didn’t like being a loan officer for a big Chicago bank working with Fortune 1000 corporations. So, “I slid down the ladder of success,” she recalled with a wry smile, still stroking her cat with too many toes.

“Poetry was a big accident,” she admitted.

A friend gave her “Wild Geese,” a book of poetry by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Mary Oliver. It changed her life.

“When I found poetry, I found my native language,” she said.

Since then, she has written and collaborated on several poetry books, picking up assorted honors and awards along the way. Her most recent collection of poetry is “The More Difficult Beauty.”

Asked which award meant the most to her, Fisk didn’t hesitate: “The NEA (National Endowment for the Arts) grant. That’s how I bought this house.”

The $20,000 grant to write a book of poetry allowed her to buy a fixer-upper on Newtown Road. It was enough for a down payment, but it was only with the help of her many friends that she was able to make it into the warm and welcoming home it is today.

While “Blow Drying a Chicken” is generally selling on the merits of her wry and gentle humor, some of the three-minute gems are poignantly personal.

In her essay “Good Wishes,” she tells how 47 friends Scotch-taped their personal good wishes on index cards inside the walls of her house before they put up the sheet rock.

Molly Fisk moved to Nevada City in 1996 to get married. That didn’t happen, but she found her home, five cats and a new ladder of success to climb.

Tom Durkin is a freelance writer and photographer in Nevada City. He can be contacted at tdurkin@vfr.net.

“When I found poetry, I found my native language.” Molly Fisk


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The Union Updated Nov 14, 2013 12:11PM Published Nov 14, 2013 11:54AM Copyright 2013 The Union. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.