Pilot’s book flying to shelves


Scott Olsen, author of “Prairie Sky: A Pilot’s Reflections on Flying and the Grace of Altitude” recently read from his book in the WSU Museum of Art.

Flying high above the Northern Prairie, professor, author and editor Scott Olsen found a new outlook on life.

 Olsen depicts this refreshed perspective in his newest book, “Prairie Sky: A Pilot’s Reflections on Flying and the Grace of Altitude.”

 “You get a thousand feet off the ground and the whole world changes,” Olsen said. “It’s the most wonderful thing you could possibly imagine.”

 Olsen landed in the Palouse for a weeklong series of events, one in which he will read from his critically acclaimed book. The event will take place at 5 p.m. Nov. 6 at the Museum of Art as part of the Visiting Writers Series.

 “Anyone who’s ever set out to discover something will be inspired from his reading,” said Linda Russo, WSU English professor and co-director of the Visiting Writers Series.

 Olsen’s 10th book is a collection of contemplative essays which portray his journey across remote landscapes in a single engine plane, with passengers ranging from friends to biologists.

 As a curiosity-driven author, Olsen invites his readers to uncover a new world, new connections and an opportunity to wander from the pilot’s seat.

 “It’s a completely new way of wondering how the world got to be the way it is and how to vision your own place in that world,” Olsen said.

 The discovery of place Olsen describes is a story to which all college students can relate as they find their own purpose and future after graduation, fellow series co-director Debbie Lee said.    

“He takes peoples’ experiences and puts them into a meaning we can all relate to,” Lee said. “His book links a greater meaning or understanding to one’s destination, or maybe not knowing what that destination is yet.”

 Russo said she wants students to gain a deeper appreciation and understanding of modern literature from Olsen’s reading.

  “In the English department, it is important for us to present literature as something that is still happening and something that is integral to students’ lives,” Russo said.

 Along with sharing his reverence for aviation, Olsen will participate in a round table discussion on the changing face of the publishing and editing world at noon on Nov. 8 in the Bundy Reading Room in Avery Hall.

 As editor-in-chief of Ascent, an online literary journal, Olsen is among many experienced practitioners who will partake in the discussion.

 “It is a tremendously dynamic time for publishing,” Olsen said. “I can’t imagine a more exciting time.”

 The discussion will allow students to engage with Bryan Fry, editor for Blood Orange Review, Rita Rudd, editor of The Palouse Review and Jana Argersinger, editor of Poe Studies.

 Those interested in publishing are encouraged to attend.

 “It’s a great opportunity for scholars and writers to engage in talking about where publishing is at the moment and where it might be going from experienced practitioners,” Lee said.

 Olsen said he wants to equip students with the knowledge they need to be successful in publishing and editing.

 “I hope students gain a broader understanding of the publishing and editing world,” he said. “Not only the nuts and bolts of it, but the philosophy as well.”

  In addition to sharing his expertise as an editor, Olsen brought his teaching skills to WSU this week as he hosted a one-credit course.

 “I want to show students the difference between good and very good writing,” Olsen said. “It’s a matter of having the most complete tool belt when choosing to tell whatever story you’re going to tell.”

 Olsen’s journey as a writer was one of determination.

 “There was no evidence that my writing would be successful,” he said. “I didn’t have confidence, but I had a desire to be a writer.”

 Rejection is a part of every student’s journey, but so is improvement, he said.

 “I have boxes and boxes of rejection slips and all of them deserved,” Olsen said. “Writing is just like any art form. The longer you stick with it, the better your art gets.”