Sunday, December 10, 2017

8th Annual Poets on the Coast with Claudia Castro Luna, Washington's Poet Laureate

A perfect holiday gift for you or a poet you love

Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Writing Retreat for Women is celebrating our 8th year of poetry workshops, art classes, and guest poets this September 7-9th in La Conner, WA. When Kelli Agodon and I began creating this retreat we knew we wanted Poets on the Coast to focus on community, acceptance, joy and generosity. In the past we had guest taught in unheated stairwells (more than once) and been set-up by bad deals by harried organizers. We vowed to be different.

And I'm pretty sure we've succeeded. Poets come back to participate in the Poets on the Coast Weekend year after year. They've organized writing groups that meet throughout the year and requested that Kelli and I set-up a Seattle Winter Retreat --- this year it's Saturday, February 10th  ---open to all --- so that we could gather more than once a year.

Each year we strive to make the retreat better than the year before and for this year, September 7-9th 2018 we've invited Claudia Castro Luna, Washington's new Poet Laureate to join us. Claudia will lead a Master Craft workshop titled Of Hands and Spleen:Writing From the Female Body.

If you'd like to give a special writer in your life a Poets on the Coast registration (Sept 7-9th) or a mini poetry retreat  in Seattle (February 10th), just contact me. We can send them a beautiful gift card. Of course, you should also consider giving yourself a gift of poetry --- writing with a community of poets changes the process --- makes us all write better. Why not?

Atlanta Review, Thank You --- After 20 Years!

I was thrilled to receive my copy of the Fall/Winter Atlanta Review in the post this weekend. Nearly 20 years ago when I was teaching at the University of Cape Town on a Fulbright Fellowship, I encountered an issue of the Atlanta Review in the English Office --- sent to us (I think) for no cost.

One of the cool elements of this journal is that they strive to be international with a recurring focus on poets from different cultures. Next up: African Women Poets in Spring 2018.

The only disadvantage of having poems in this fine journal is that they do not (yet) have much of an on-line presence so in order to read any of the poems, you need to purchase the journal. Or perhaps I could publish the complete poem here if there is interest.... the last couplets are cut off and they are where the poem does the most work.

In any case, if you are interested in international poetry, you should consider supporting this journal with your subscription --- which you can do right here. That's what I just did!

Sunday, December 3, 2017

You Know You're Thinking About It...


              Come in from the cold! Kelli Russell Agodon and I are leading a full day (2 part series) Winter Writing Retreat in the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle on Saturday, February 10th. We will begin the morning with "Writing Poems in Uncertain and Surreal Times" and then move on in the afternoon to "Getting Your Work Published." Between us we have 11 books and over 200 journal publications. Come learn how to approach editors, send out your manuscript, and find the right market for your work. This is our 5th year offering a Poets on the Coast Winter Retreat. We hope you'll join us!

Saturday, December 2, 2017

I'm Working on a Poem Called "Dear Death" but Feeling Pretty Good

Sarajevo Sunning on Her Deck Chair
The last two months have been overflowing with the good, the bad, and the in-between.

On Monday, October 9th 2017, I came home from work to find Sarajevo dead in the living room, just a step away from her bed by the window. My two other cats were with her and as death goes, she got to live to (almost) 18 --- that's about 84 in cat years. I adopted her 9 months after I moved to Seattle. She will be (is) missed terribly.

Perhaps sudden deaths of any kind are there to remind us how short life is and that we better start enjoying it now.

Maybe that's one of the reason for writing death a letter. More on that if the poem is ever completed.

I've been reading some wonderful books of poems lately and thought I would mention a few incase anyone has started holiday shopping which I have definitely not.

Here they are in no particular order:

I love this book by Cindy Veach! Gloved Against Blood is just out from Cavan Kerry Press. Veach lives along the north shore of Massachusetts in Manchester-by-the-Sea (same town as the movie) which is home to Singing Beach.  Veach's collection both re-tells the history of the women who worked in the Lowell fabric mills and the women of her family. The two intersect as Veach's matrilineal line came down from Quebec to work in the mills.  But even if you don't care for women's history (really?) and you don't care about family dynamics, the language and craft in this debut collection is stellar. I've seen this collection through several iterations and I am thrilled that it has reached the world in such fabulous form. Don't miss it.

Killing Marias: A Poem for Multiple Voices by Claudia Castro Luna  is just out from Two Sylvias Press and it's amazing. Each Maria represents one of the young women that have been murdered in Juarez, Mexico over the past few decades. (Click here for the Washington Post article "Hundreds of Women Disappear Each Year in Ciudad Juarez." There is a haunting, surreal quality to the work that accrues as the reader moves through the poems. And while the subject of the book is clearly devastating, the book itself is a pleasure to read. Castro Luna brings attention to these women's lives and she is donating her proceeds from the book to a non-profit in Juarez set-up by the families of the victims. Note: Claudia Castro Luna was Seattle Civic Poet from 2015-2017. As of January 2018, she is the Washington State Poet Laureate.

Finally, Winter Roses by Hilary Sallick is a book I've kept returning to over the last few months. The poems, as poet Pamela Alexander states in her review, "move with the economy and gentleness of Japanese paintings." As readers, we enter the library with Sallick as she observes the quiet details of the strangers surrounding her. The poems are expertly crafted and perhaps even more than that, they bring this reader a deep calm in these horrifying times we are living in.

There are more books but these are the ones I am holding close right now. May the season find you somewhere warm with an afternoon free to read.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Reading New Poems with Katy Ellis and Jodi Hollander --- Third Place Books Ravenna

Katy Ellis, Susan Rich, and Jodi Hollander

This should be fun! I am thrilled to read with Katy E. Ellis --- winner of this year's Floating Bridge Award and co-curator at WordsWest. We will be joined by Jodi Hollander who is here with her debut collection. It's a school night but we're staying out late: November 1st,  this Wednesday, 7 pm, at Third Place Books.

I will be reading new poems from my fifth collection ---- still forthcoming. Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Thank you to Jacar Press for This Pushcart Nomination

Okay. So there's been no prize awarded yet but let's keep hope alive. Thank you to Jacar Press, home of ONE magazine for nominating, "No One Goes to Heaven Anymore" for a Pushcart Prize. In the midst of much sadness, this cheered me up!

Monday, September 25, 2017

Proud to be One Third of WordsWest Literary Series -- Now in Our 4th Year and w/ Joannie Stangeland

That's me, Harold Taw, and Katy Ellis

Here is our happy trio at the venerable Easy Street Cafe and Record Store in West Seattle. 1001 thank you's to Tracy Record, Editor of the famous West Seattle Blog (the New York Times of West Seattle) for a super fun interview that reads on the page with the same energy and spontaneity as our lunchtime meeting. What a pleasure when a reporter (editor) gets every quote right and creates an article in which we recognize ourselves. Long live the West Seattle Blog --- the best source of news on our peninsula.

Here is the beginning of the article and the link to read more~

The three West Seattle writers who co-curate WordsWest Literary Series say it’s the kind of series “we would like to be invited to.”
WordsWest opens its fourth season this Wednesday night at C & P Coffee Company (WSB sponsor) and co-curators Harold TawKaty Ellis, and Susan Rich say it’s become everything they hoped it would be, and more.
While we regularly feature WordsWest in the WSB calendar and previews, we thought the start of the season would be a good time to check in with the co-founders, to re-introduce (or, if you’re new here, introduce) them and what it is they do each month. So we sat down with Susan, Katy, and Harold for that check-in over lunch at Easy Street Records one recent midday.
First – we should mention that WordsWest events usually feature two writers, in an innovative format, plus a community member reading a “favorite poem,” and a chance for interactivity with the dozens of attendees. More on the 7 pm Wednesday season-opener lineup a bit later – but first, the start of their story:
Susan – who had just come back from the Poets on the Coast retreat she runs in LaConner – explained that she and Katy met at the city’s best-known bookstore, Elliott Bay Books, introduced by a mutual friend. Talking, they agreed, “wouldn’t it be nice to go to a reading without having to cross the bridge?”
An early topic of discussion: “What would we call it?” And during that discussion,  click to continue.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Happy Fall ~ Poetry Matters - Generating New Work, Publication, and a Reading

I am thrilled (thrilled!) to be teaching at Harmony Fields next Sunday, October 1st from 2:00-5:00 pm. Poet and farmer extraordinaire, Jess Gigot, has invited me to her gorgeous farm just outside of La Conner, WA in Bow, WA. "Poetry Matters: Generating New Work and a Poetry Salon" will be held in her refurbished barn. The group is limited to 16. You can register on-line right here.

We've built in a 90 minute intermission so poets can try out one of the amazing restaurants in Bow-Edison --- a town being quickly recognized as a foodie and artist haven. At 6:30 pm I will join Jess Gigot, Michael Daily, and Georgia Johnson for a reading at the i.e. gallery.

From Poets on the Coast, to LitFuse, to Poetry Matters --- this is the season of poetry.

To find out more about the workshop or the farm --- click here.