A feminist writer/poet, facilitated discussions, food and even animals are featured during Blue Mountain Community College’s Arts & Culture Festival.

The festival is Monday, April 16 through Thursday, April 19 and includes activities on the Pendleton (2411 N.W. Carden Ave.) and Hermiston (980 S.E. Columbia Drive) campuses of BMCC. The activities are free and open to the public.

A special 20th anniversary celebration is Monday from 5-6 p.m. in the Student Union in Pioneer Hall. Doug Radke, who founded the festival, will speak. In addition, Susie’s Cafe will provide light refreshments.

At 6 p.m., Natasha Ria El-Scari, the festival’s artist-in-residence, will give a presentation in Bob Clapp Theatre. Other opportunities to hear El-Scari include Tuesday at 1 p.m. (Hermiston), and Wednesday at 11 a.m. (Pendleton).

Her poetry, academic papers and personal essays have been published in anthologies, literary journals and online. El-Scari’s 2015 DVD, “Live at the Blue Room,” demonstrates how she connects with people with warmth and unrelenting honesty.

When asked in an interview what makes her unique, El-Scari said “… most people lie to themselves, but I like to reveal myself.”

A past Kansas poet laureate, Denise Low speaks highly of El-Scari.

“Poems lift off the page, almost reading themselves,” Low said. “Unlike some performance poetry, her words translate well to the printed page.”

Other highlights in Pendleton include inaugural video contest (Monday, 10 a.m.); a barbecue (Monday, noon); a presentation by a National Public Radio senior producer (Tuesday, 10 a.m.); Indian relay races (Tuesday, 11 a.m.); information on immigrant rights and DACA (Tuesday, noon); Ekphrastic poetry with Shaindel Beers (Tuesday, 1 p.m.); writing competition readings (Tuesday, 1:30 p.m.); the Eastern Oregon Forum featuring a panel discussing how service animals help change lives (Tuesday, 7 p.m.); an Oregon Humanities Conversation Project facilitated discussion, “In Science We Trust,” (Thursday, 11 a.m.) and a Video Film Fest (Thursday, 4 p.m.)

Activities in Hermiston include a focus group about food insecurity (Tuesday, 11 a.m.), the Conversation Project “In Science We Trust,” (Wednesday, 10 a.m.) and “Talking About Dying” (Wednesday, 1 p.m.); interactive African drumming (Wednesday, 11:30 a.m.) fireside chats about a Holocaust survivor (Thursday, 11 a.m.) and a survivor of a World War II Japanese-American internment camp (Thursday, 1 p.m.) and immigrants’ rights and DACA (Thursday, 2 p.m.). A barbecue and photo booth fun is Wednesday at noon; and food by Ruty’s Restaurant, lawn games and an alpaca display is Thursday at noon.

For a full schedule of events, visit www.bluecc.edu. For questions, contact Casey White-Zollman, vice president of public relations, at 541-278-5839 or cwhitezollman@bluecc.edu.


Contact Community Editor Tammy Malgesini at tmalgesini@eastoregonian.com or 541-564-4539

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