So Many Poetry Readings & Workshops!

Ah, Spring! It’s nearly National Poetry Month, which means there are lots of things I want to tell you about.

Here’s where you’ll find me:

March 25 at 5p: reading at Darvill’s Bookstore on Orcas Island with Michelle Reed.

March 26 from 10 to 3p: Workshop at the Orcas Island Library: Demystifying the Line Break. Free.

April 14: Pacific Lutheran University Visiting Writers Series. Talk at 3:30, and reading at 7p. Details here.

April 22:  Reading with Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, 7:30p. $15.

April 23: Workshop at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, 1 to 3p; $30. Registration information.

June 24 and 25: Chuckanut Writers Conference. Poetry faculty includes Roberto Ascalon, Elaina Ellis and Nancy Pagh. Early-bird registration through May 15. (I’m teaching a performance workshop.)

A highly subjective and necessarily incomplete list of events around Seattle:

March 28: Nguyen Phan Que Mai and Claudia Castro Luna, Elliott Bay Books, 7p.

March 31: Colleen J. McElroy at the Seattle Public Central Library, 7p.

April 6: Near and Far: Four Poets Read. Maged Zaher, Ryan Eckes, Hailey Higdon and Sherazade Siobhan, Hugo House, 7p.

April 9: Sibyl James and Judith Roche at Elliott Bay Books, 7p.

April 12: Writers Under the Influence: Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman. Hugo House, 7p.

April 15: Hugo Literary Series with Andrew Sean Greer, Claire Vaye Watkins, Roberto Ascalon and Alex Osuch. Hugo House, 7:30p

April 21: Tess Gallagher and Lawrence Matsuda, Elliott Bay Books, 7p.

April 28: Kevin Young on “Throwing Your Voice.” Hugo House, 7p.

April 24: Christianne Balk and Judith Skillman, Elliott Bay Books, 3p.

April 29: “If You Ain’t No Place You Can’t Go Nowhere” Workshop with Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall. Noon to 2 p.m., Seattle Central Library, Level 4, Room 1. Seating on a first-come, first-served basis.

April 29: Celebrate National Poetry Month with readings by Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall and friends. Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum, 7:30p. Lucia Perillo and Heather McHugh are likely participants.

April 29: Workshop to Help Kids Cope With Grief and Loss
Draw It Out is a creative writing and drawing workshop for anyone who wants to learn how to help school-aged children cope with all types of grief and loss (e.g., loss of home, loved one, community, physical health, trauma, recent move, etc.). Art with Heart, a nonprofit that helps children who are experiencing significant life changes and events, will facilitate this training on Friday, April 29 at Seattle Children’s Hospital. No art or writing experience required. All materials provided. Registration is required.

Call for Submissions for Washington 129 from our state poet laureate, Tod Marshall: “I’m excited to announce Washington 129, an anthology of poems gathered from the people of Washington State.  The project will include work from experienced poets and newcomers to the art, young students and lifetime learners.  These poems will be published in two formats: many of the poems will be included in an online anthology that will utilize the format of an e-book; one hundred and twenty-nine of the poems (one for every year of statehood up until 2018) will be published in book form. Details (PDF).

More to look forward to:

May 19 – 22: the biennial Skagit River Poetry Festival includes Naomi Shihab Nye and more than 20 other poets. Tickets on sale now at Brown Paper Tickets.

May 20 – 22: Vortext Salon at the Whidbey Institute

June 9 – 12: Writing It Real Writers Conference with Sheila Bender


An Old Poem That I Wish Was Not Relevant


Days like today
I could let it all go.

Release ambition
like a balloon floating

into someone else’s
yard. Let the radio

keep its death toll
and speeches. I will give

myself to what will answer
with blossom and fruit.

Could I die back?
Could I be mere twigs,

waiting? Give me
light, rain, a piece of ground.

Here I might remember
the prayer of silence, practice

one thing until done well,
heal what lies

within reach.


I wrote this poem sometime after September 11, 2001; that it feels so timely makes me sad beyond words.

“Poetry for All” Prompt 3: Desire

Here’s the third in my series of video prompts, “Poetry for All.” This week’s prompt features “Desire, Like a Hungry Lion” by Dorothy Trogdon (Tall Woman Looking from Blue Begonia Press).

Prompt 3: Desire

Desire, Like a Hungry Lion

                                                                  For RB

A hungry lion is loose in the streets of May.

How difficult it is for you to know what you require
at any passage of your life
               yet something sees and knows and waits

until you open your door and go forward to meet it,
to offer what has been taking shape within you.

Hold out the tempting crumbs in the palm of your hand
and quietly wait until you feel the touch of the velvet muzzle.

Look well at the fur and claw of wildness, your brother.
The stars need darkness or you would not know them.

—Dorothy Trogdon

You can hear Dorothy Trogdon reading her poem at

Poem credits:

Dorothy Trogdon, “Desire, Like a Hungry Lion” from Tall Woman Looking. Copyright © 2012 by Dorothy Trogdon. Used with the permission of the author and Blue Begonia Press.

My thanks to the featured poets for permission to use their poems, and to Sheila Farr and John Helde for essential technical help.

“Poetry for All” Prompt 2: A Visitation

Here’s the second in my National Poetry Month series of video poetry prompts. This week’s prompt includes a poem by Peter Pereira, from his collection What’s Written on the Body. These are intended for the poetry-curious, beginning writers, and anyone who’d like company at the desk. Please share freely, and I hope you’ll leave me a comment to let me know how it goes, OK?

Prompt 2: A Visitation

This prompt features Peter Pereira’s poem “Twenty Years after His Passing, My Father Appears to Us in Chicago, at Bobby Chinn’s Crab & Oyster House, in the Guise of Our Waiter, Ramon” from What’s Written on the Body (Copper Canyon Press).

See other prompts.

Poem credits:

Peter Pereira, “Twenty Years after His Passing, My Father Appears to Us in Chicago, at Bobby Chinn’s Crab & Oyster House, in the Guise of Our Waiter, Ramon” from What’s Written on the Body. Copyright © 2007 by Peter Pereira. Used with the permission of Copper Canyon Press,

My thanks to the featured poets for permission to use their poems, and to Sheila Farr and John Helde for essential technical help.

National Poetry Month: Let’s Write!

Over at, I’ve just launched a short series of online poetry prompts: Poetry for All. These videos are mini versions of the free poetry writing workshops I’m giving all around Washington state. Each combines a model poem with a writing activity, and is intended to be useful to the poetry-curious and beginning writers alike. Here’s the first one.

Prompt 1: A Memorable Meal

Prompt 1 features Li-Young Lee’s “Eating Together,” from Rose (BOA Editions), and was inspired by the indispensable The Pen and the Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World by Brenda Miller and Holly J. Hughes.

Poem credits:

Li-Young Lee, “Eating Together” from Rose. Copyright © 1986 by Li-Young Lee. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, Inc., on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd.,

HUGE thanks to the featured poets for permission to use their poems, and to Sheila Farr and John Helde for essential technical help.

“The self is a thousand localities”

Poet Diane Raptosh
Poet Diane Raptosh

I’m delighted to welcome Diane Raptosh, a poet who is currently serving as Idaho’s Writer-in-Residence, to Seattle.

We’ll read together at Elliott Bay Books on Sat., March 14 at 7p.

Raptosh is a prison studies scholar and a cultural critic. Check out her TEDxBoise talk: Poetry, Democracy and the Hope of Sounds.

To whet your appetite, here’s an untitled poem from her most recent collection, 
American Amnesiac
, which was long listed for the National Book Award:

The self is a thousand localities

like a small nation—assembly required: borders and roads,


armies, farms, small and large pieces of parchment. I stand by

all the territories I have ever been, even as I can’t


remember them. I am a locum—ear to the emperor penguin, a banner ad

blinking to the hoi polloi. Since I’ve become John Doe, I swear


I can feel most objects with sixty digits

instead of five. This makes me think


of Lisette. Makes me miss her left collar bone. Her hips’ wingtips.

A train moans from a far hummock.


Which reminds me that everyone I’ll have to live without

I must help to find a place within. Which is an act


of granite will. A strain. A ditty.

An exercise in utmost beautility.


from American Amnesiac, by Diane Raptosh

                             (Etruscan Press, 2013)