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The Very Mootsiest Short Story Will Win

Imagine if Margaret Mitchell had titled her book “Gone With the Mootsy.” If John Irving had titled his novel “The World According to Mootsy.”

Or if John Grisham had titled his legal thrillers “A Time to Mootsy” or “The Pelican Mootsy.”

That’s sort of the spirit that Rick Turner and Tom Davis hope to capture in their “The Story of Mootsy” short-story contest.

Turner is the owner of Mootsy’s, a tavern at 406 W. Sprague that has become a regular site of poetry readings.

Following in the tradition of such other public-arena reading series as those once held at the Big Dipper and at the Anaconda Cafe, Mootsy’s hosts weekly readings each Sunday at 5 p.m.

The series began more than a year ago after Davis, a Spokane poet and former English teacher, approached Turner.

“I’d been trying to get a reading series going for a long time,” said Davis, who originated the Big Dipper readings. “Rick’s a real good guy.”

According to Turner, who opened the tavern two years ago this March, Davis would drop in when he was doing the initial remodeling. “We talked about doing poetry, what kind of bar it was going to be, and one thing led to another.”

Some 17 readers showed up on a recent Sunday, though Turner stresses that poetry hasn’t suddenly usurped rock ‘n’ roll and Rolling Rock as Spokane’s main bar attractions.

“It’s not like we have them waiting in line to get in,” he admits. “It’s a small group and it kind of changes every Sunday. But more and more people are coming to participate, and that’s what makes it fun.”

Fun, too, is the theme of the contest.

The idea is to come up with a clever notion of who the Mootsy is for whom the tavern is named.

“Somebody asked me, ‘Where’d you get the name Mootsy?”’ Turner explains. “I told them, and they said, ‘Jeez, you ought to have a better story than that.’ So that’s kind of how it happened.”

According to the contest rules, Mootsy can be used however the entrant desires.

It can be “a person, place or thing, a foreign language, a forked tongue, a faraway galaxy or simply a common noun,” as in, “I got my mootsy working tonight.”

The story should be “no less than 3,000 words” long, which would take the author about 30 minutes to read. The timing is important for, in addition to taking home $300, the winner will be invited - or, for more shy types, required - to read his or her tome in person.

The contest deadline is Feb. 28, 1997. Send all entries to Mootsy’s, 406 W. Sprague, Spokane, WA 99204 (phone: 624-1281).

Turner, who is putting up the prize, deserves credit for keeping the ancient art of poetry alive - even if Davis suspects that he has an ulterior motive.

“I think Rick just want to have somebody figure out what Mootsy means,” he says.

Then, as Hemingway might have written, we can all bid “A Farewell to Mootsy.”

A time to write II

Note to parents of kids who can write: If you’ve got a student who’s looking for ways to boost his or her high school transcripts, you might want to encourage them to enter the 1997 Black History Month Essay Contest.

This annual writing competition, which is sponsored by the Eastern Washington University Black Education Program and the Martin Luther King Jr. Family Outreach Center, provides area students the opportunity to write about issues involving African-Americans.

The theme of this year’s contest: “Select a person in your life or from history who has used his or her education (formal or informal) to advance the prosperity of people of African descent.”

There are four competition divisions: elementary (grades 4-6), junior high (grades 7-9), high school (grades 10-12) and college/university. Cash prizes range from $50 to $200.

Deadline is Jan. 10, 1997. For further information, including specific entry instructions, call the EWU Black Education Program at 359-2205.

What’s your signing?

The Book & Game Co. at Coeur d’Alene’s Silver Lake Mall has developed a busy lineup of book signings over the holidays. Coming events include:

The husband-wife writing team of Tony Bamonte and Suzanne Schaeffer will sign copies of their book “History of Pend Oreille County” from 1-3 p.m. today.

Mitch Finley will sign copies of his various books, which include “Whispers of Love,” “101 Ways to Nourish Your Soul,” “Catholic is Wonderful” and “Everybody Has a Guardian Angel,” from 1 to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Louise Shadduck will sign copies of his book “At the Edges of the Ice” from 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday.

Iris Siegler and Kim Torgerson will sign copies of their book “Doodles and Oodles” from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 22.

The reader board

Kathie Durbin, author of “Tree Huggers: Victory, Defeat & Renewal in the Northwest Ancient Forest Campaign,” will read from her book at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Auntie’s Bookstore. (See book review on E6.)

Phil Garrison, author of “Identity and the West,” will read from his book at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at BookPeople, 512 S. Main in Moscow, and at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at Auntie’s Bookstore.

, DataTimes

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