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Pop-up: Debra Gwartney

Sat, Nov 9, 2019 from 2:00 pm - 2:15 pm PST
1219 SW Park Ave Portland, OR 97205

Debra Gwartney pops-up in the Portland Art Museum galleries with her new book, I Am a Stranger Here Myself

Gwartney is paired with the artwork Indian on Horseback by Alexander Phimister Proctor; found in the American Art Gallery, on the 2nd floor of the Portland Art Museum. Please reference the Portland Art Museum Map to find this location.


Part history, part memoir, I Am a Stranger Here Myself taps dimensions of human yearning: the need to belong, the snarl of family history, and embracing womanhood in the patriarchal American West. Debra Gwartney becomes fascinated with the missionary Narcissa Prentiss Whitman, the first Caucasian woman to cross the Rocky Mountains and one of fourteen people killed at the Whitman Mission in 1847 by a band of Cayuse. Whitman’s role as a white woman drawn in to “settle” the West reflects the tough-as-nails women in Gwartney’s own family. Arranged in four sections as a series of interlocking explorations and ruminations, Gwartney uses Whitman as a touchstone to spin a tightly woven narrative about identity, the power of womanhood, and coming to peace with one’s most cherished place.

Debra Gwartney

Debra Gwartney is the winner of the 2018 RiverTeeth Nonfiction Prize, judged by Gretel Ehrlich, for her memoir, I Am a Stranger Here Myself. Her 2009 memoir, Live Through This, was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award, and the Oregon Book Award. Debra has published in such journals as Granta, Tin House, American Scholar, The Normal School, Creative Nonfiction, Prairie Schooner, Triquarterly Review, the NYT "Modern Love" column, among others. She is the 2018 winner of the Real Simple essay contest and is a contributing editor at Poets & Writers magazine. She has received fellowships from Hedgebrook, Playa, UCross, and the Wurlitzer Foundation. She teaches in the MFA Program at Pacific University and lives in Western Oregon with her husband, the writer Barry Lopez.
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