Additional Date for Title Workshop: March 7

Wow. The February session of the title workshop is already full! Hugo House has added a new section: Saturday, March 7, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.

The class is called “The Title as Frame and Invitation.” We’ll let examples by Angel Nafis, Alice Oswald, Thomas Lux, Lucille Clifton and others lead us into a deeper appreciation and understanding of this too-often overlooked element of compelling, memorable poems.

Bring copies of three of your own poems-in-progress; we’ll practice titling to entice the reader with an irresistible frame and invitation.

At Hugo House in Seattle. Registration and more details here.

National Poetry Month

poetryThough lately it’s felt more like July, it’s still National Poetry Month, with lots of poetry events left to enjoy (or perhaps you’re looking to take a class, or want to visit Open Books: A Poem Emporium?).

If you’re on or near Whidbey Island, I’d love to see you at one or both of these events this weekend:

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

Saturday, April 23: Generative writing workshop at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts, 1 to 3p; $30. Registration information. Still a few spaces available

I also recommend:

April 22: Couth Buzzard Post-Explosion Rebuild Fundraiser, Couth Buzzard Books, 7:30p. Donations to support Couth Buzzard strongly encouraged. Features a community of “songsters, comedians and writers” to support the bookstore as it recovers from the Greenwood neighborhood gas explosion. 

April 23: Red Lineage Hackathon at Hugo House. 1 to 3p. Free class for teens to create web-based poems for Red Lineage, a global collaborative poetry project created by poet and conceptual artist Natasha Marin.

April 23: Celebrate National Poetry Month at the Seattle Public Library’s Central branch, 2p. Features Seattle Civic Poet Claudia Castro Luna, Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Leija Farr, Alan Lau, Anastacia Tolbert, Maya Chinen and Max Taylor.

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

April 27: Jess Gigot, San Juan County Library, 7p.

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

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, Heather McHugh and Lucia Perillo. Folio: The Seattle Athenaeum, 7:30p.

April 30: W. S. Merwin: To Plant a Tree on KCTS, 8pm.

And since May is just around the corner…

May 2: Poetry in Nature Reading. Group reading celebrating an installation of local poetry on nature trails Mount Vernon Public Library, 6 pm.

May 6, 13 and 20: Readings by the 2016 Jack Straw Writers.

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

May 23 and 24: Art with Heart’s Chill & Spill training will prepare adults to help teens facing the pain of trauma using Chill & Spill as their guide. Ryther Mental Health, Seattle. Contact Kathryn for more information: info@artwithheart.org

And of course, many readings at Elliott Bay Books

Happy reading, writing and listening, friends.

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

Deciduous

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 KUOW.org.

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, www.coppercanyonpress.org.

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

Seattle Wrote!

Writer Norelle Done has created a cool blog about Seattle-area writers and the publishing world. She’s posted dozens of interviews on a huge range of topics. Earlier this month, she talked with me about how I became a writer, and about the process of writing and shaping Every Dress a Decision. You can read Norelle’s interview with me here, or browse the site at SeattleWrote.com.

Journalist Norelle Done blogs about the Seattle literary world.
Journalist Norelle Done blogs about the Seattle literary world.

What English Lacks

Untitled

The beginning of wisdom is in getting things
by their right name.

—Chinese proverb

 

Ear. Nose. Eye.
We teach every child
to point and name.

The child goes to school,
learns “he” is the norm,
“she” the grammatical

variant. When the place
between her legs is left
unnamed, what lesson

does the child learn
but that what she discovers there
doesn’t quite exist

(except to be washed, face averted).

Eventually she’ll find
the dessicated,
reticent Latinates—

the language and labels
of diagnosis
and prohibition—

a linguistic burka, rooted
in pudere: be ashamed.
She’ll find the dysphemisms

of juvenile slang—
metaphors of confused fascination—
geographic euphemisms.

(Might as well call it Australia.)

Quarter of a million words
but not one with the raw
authority, the accurate—forgive me—

mouth feel
of the thing itself. So taboo
as to be nameless,

that place all human aching starts.

–Elizabeth Austen
The final line is borrowed from Li-Young Lee’s “Self-Help for Fellow Refugees.”

This is a poem I’ve been trying to write for a long, long time. It finally came together under the pressure of a deadline. I’d been asked to write a new piece based (as loosely as desired) on the theme of pie and/or whiskey for the Pie and Whiskey reading at Get Lit! this year.  I abandoned several fruitless approaches–jettisoning a version that included a long list of popular euphemisms–and let the poem be shaped by the reality that I can’t find language that satisfies. (An early version of “Untitled” appears in the Pie and Whiskey chapbook published by Lost Horse Press in April 2012.)

I’ve posted it here because when I began including it in readings, people (both men and women) asked me where they could find it. You are welcome to share the poem with others if you’d like, but please be sure to include the attribution to Li-Young Lee’s poem.

“Desire, a Hungry Lion”

Dorothy Trogden, author of "Tall Woman Looking"
At 7pm on May 30, I’ll be reading with poets Kathleen Flenniken and Dorothy Trogdon at the University Bookstore. Here’s one of my favorite of Dorothy’s poems. It’s in her collection TALL WOMAN LOOKING from Blue Begonia Press. Come hear her read. She’s marvelous, and I believe this is her first reading in Seattle.

Desire, 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