Jeff Leard: An American writer in Taiwan

Jeff Leard is an Ashlander. But that's not where he's hanging his well-worn, Neruda-style hat these days.

Shortly after graduating from Southern Oregon University, and working in the English Language Skills program through the university, Leard decided it was time for a change of pace, and a bit of repose from a consumer-based life experience for himself and his daughter. Now Leard, a writer and an educator, lives in Taiwan, on a semi-spiritual and sociological sabbatical. His mission is to teach English abroad, while he himself becomes part of a culture most foreign to him.

For years, Leard was an A-town renaissance artist. Metering physical labor, single parenting, being a full time student and pursuing a mastery of Literature, Leard took every opportunity he could to plunge into the extra-curricular world of the arts. A lauded writer and performance artist, Leard took advantage of the many lesser known options of Southern Oregon.

While a college student at Southern Oregon University, Leard was the editor of "SPEWS" (now "Cognito"), SOU's online literary magazine, and he also hosted some of the "SPEWS" open-mic nights at the Jefferson State Pub. He has worked with the West Wind Review and remains close with much of the faculty in the Writing program. He worked the open mic scene for years, also emceeing and providing publishing opportunities for his writing peers, as well as often performing with the more novice artists to bolster their confidence. He also served as a producer for Rogue Valley Television in 2004.

Leard has long fostered a passion for history, geographical analysis and liberal pontification, such as "Confessions of an Economic Hitman," by John Perkins and "Guns, Germs and Steel," by Jared Diamond. He is currently working on "The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee," also by Diamond. After working for an extended time with foreign students who are at ELS, through SOU, to master the English language, Leard was soon one of the most popular educators on campus, particularly with the Saudi Arabian students with whom he principally worked the most.

But Leard was always a traveler, having toured considerably and living in Samoa for an extended period and he found that he was ready for a change; also wanting to expose his daughter, Savvy, to perspectives other than domestic.

Since arriving overseas, Leard has found a budding joy in photography as well, capturing the mysteries of a place driving him to so much self-definition. And of course, the consummate writer and chronicler, Leard has found whole new worlds to chart through his travelers and immersion.

Leard still maintains his Ashland roots and his love for the Rogue Valley and plans to return Stateside for another visit shortly, visiting friends and family and paying a pilgrimage to Omar's. A writer, father, educator and traveling contemplator having gone on a mystical path of discovery shared by both Siddhartha and Rambo, Jeff Leard is an American writer in Taiwan. It will be exciting to imagine the phoenix of the artist in Leard that shall arise from the leafy greenery of Taiwan.

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