Mar 30, 2014

Spillworthy (an excerpt)

In Portland I could abandon Mom with her boyfriend-of-the-moment and go ask for food outside this pizza place. People don’t mind giving a kid their leftover pizza and I don’t see how that’s any different than someone inviting me to dinner—except, of course, that we don’t actually have to talk to one another—and that can be a bonus.

Plus the carryout box makes a perfect display for a spillworthy. The lid of a medium carryout holds about 500 words. With a small box, poetry works better, but a medium is perfect. 

After my belly’s full, I’m like a ship with sails gusting with wind. I write my heart out, transfer those words to a box, and set them free.

My last medium spillworthy was about Keats. I propped it up on a garbage can outside our neighborhood music store. The next day I saw someone had cut it out and put it on display in the window alongside album posters. That was so cool.

Once, Old Doogy asked me, “What’s your deal?” 

So I told him, “I’m homeless.” 

And he nodded because it was like saying, “the sky is blue” or “your dog is ugly.” Self-evident. 
But Old Doogy, being drunk, he thought about it for a long time before waving the bottle at me. “And?”

And so I told him, “I can’t take my writing with me. Where would I put it? So, you know, I fill notebooks and then I throw them in dumpsters and then I go beg for a new one. But sometimes I actually write something that shouldn’t be thrown away—something good, something worthy of spilling my heart out to the world.”

“Something spillworthy,” he slurred.

“Yes! And I rewrite those thoughts on pizza boxes or the backs of old posters—something big, but not too big—and I release that part of me into the world.”

And Old Doogy, he said, “but don’t they still get thrown away?”

And I told him he must have missed the spillworthy I posted on the nature of art.

He took a deep draw from the bottle and squinted at me. Then, like a broken radio—once all static and then clear and booming—he said, “so tell me about the nature of art, Young Spillworthy.” 

And there were these well-dressed people walking by and they were looking at us funny and the woman whispered, “Does it seem like the homeless people are smarter than our friends these days?”

And so I took that as encouragement and I told Old Doogy that art requires only two people, although there is no upper limit for participation. First there’s the artist—the writer, musician, painter, mime, whatever. If the creation is really art, it changes the creator in some way. That’s the first requirement. 

The second requirement is about the other person—the one who experiences the creation. If it’s really art, it changes something in the person who experiences it. There can be more than one creator and more than one person experiencing the art, but the circuit completes with a minimum of two people. 

That’s art. As long as my words reach one person first, it doesn’t matter if the pizza boxes get thrown away.

Old Doogy nodded and scratched his scruffy chin. When he opened his mouth, I expected him to belch but instead he asked, “What big name philosopher came up with that?”

“Ulysses S. Finch,” I said. 

“Never heard of him.

His answer was quick and I realized he didn’t get my meaning, so I explained that I am Ulysses. I’m Ulysses S. Finch. And he laughed. And he kept on laughing and I started to turn red. 

- - -

Spillworthy releases on May 1, 2014!

Mar 29, 2014

What's a Catch and Release Party?

29 MARCH 2014

Contact: Johanna Harness


In Johanna Harness' upcoming book, SPILLWORTHY, the main characters capture their best thoughts, transfer them to pizza boxes, and then set them free into the world.

To mark the official release of the book, readers worldwide will be releasing paperback copies of the new book into the world.  This global party is a "catch and release" party because new readers are encouraged to write their thoughts in the back of the book before again releasing it for others to find.

Readers who find the book can log into to tell others where they found the book and also to reveal where they next released it.

"The best part of this experience is letting go," says Harness. "Believing that the books will end up where they are supposed to be is freeing on so many levels."

Of course, the book will also available for sale.  After May 1st, it can be found on or ordered through your local, independent bookstore.

Mar 11, 2014

Catch & Release Party!

In SPILLWORTHY, the main characters release words into the world to be read by others.  In that spirit, we're having a Catch & Release Party to celebrate the release of this book into the world.

Starting May 1st, tagged copies of the book will be released into the wild at various places around the world.

Each book will be tagged with a number and a web address, so people can log in to the site and report a book catch--and hopefully another release.

I'm asking anyone who finds a book to leave a comment in the back of the book before releasing it back into the wild.

I will post exact locations where books are released, so anyone following along can go find the copy soon after it's dropped off. Otherwise, we're leaving it up to fate, believing that the book will find its way into the hands of the right people.

For my own part, I'll release a copy on May 1st and then I'm starting out on a road trip beginning May 2nd.  I'll be dropping copies in various cities in Idaho, Oregon, and Washington throughout the first two weeks of May.

I need your help to make this spread even farther!  If you're interested in participating I will send you a book to release during May.  (I'll work with your schedules and we'll coordinate.)

Some basic rules apply. Don't release the book anywhere that it could raise concerns about unattended items. And, if you leave it outside, please put it in a ziplock bag.  As the person releasing the book, you can add the first comment to the back before setting it free. I would ask that you send me a picture of the book being released and tell me the location.  (I won't post either until it's already done.)

That's it!

The more people involved the better!  If it gets over-the-top expensive, I'll have to cap it, but for now I'm throwing the doors open for anyone to participate.

If you're interested please comment here or send me an email. :)