Words To Carry Us

openTonight at Open Books, Kari Hilwig and I will offer — and invite — poems in response to grief, illness and healing. I’ll mention lots of books as resources, so wanted to make that list available here.

Let me say that these are books that have been personally meaningful. It is, of necessity, a partial list – even on my own bookshelves, the more I looked, the more I found* – and the list had to end somewhere. I offer this as a starting place for those who may be looking for poems to accompany, to perhaps even carry them, through grief or illness.  What books have been useful for you? 

I’ve Heard the Vultures Singing: Field Notes on Poetry, Illness, and Nature. Lucia Perillo.

Time Will Clean the Carcass Bones: Selected and New Poems. Lucia Perillo.

My, My, My, My, My. Tara Hardy.

Native Guard. Natasha Trethewey.

Meaning a Cloud. J.W. Marshall.

Woodnote. Christine Deavel.

What the Living Do. Marie Howe.

The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing. Kevin Young, ed.

A New Theology: Turning to Poetry in a Time of Grief. Sheila Bender.

Gaze. Christopher Howell.

Poetic Medicine: The Healing Art of Poem-Making. John Fox.

The Wild Braid: A Poet Reflects on a Century in the Garden. Stanley Kunitz with Genine Lentine.

Red Studio. Mary Cornish.

Mercy. Lucille Clifton.

Trapeze. Deborah Digges.

*I have no doubt that as soon as I press “publish” I will think of several other utterly necessary books. This is the good news: since loss is an inextricable part of our human condition, it has been a central concern of poetry since earliest times.

Celebrating Open Books: A Poem Emporium

openbooksFriends, just a quick note that this is the week Seattle’s beloved Open Books: A Poem Emporium transitions to its new owner, Billie Swift. You’ll find “A Few Final Words from John and Christine” here.

As I just wrote to John and Christine, I am keenly aware that the poetry community I encountered when I turned to poetry some 20 years ago was shaped indelibly by Open Books — by the physical space, the intimate readings, the books of course!, but most of all by John and Christine’s always smart and unfailingly kind presence, and by their knowledge and insight regarding poetry. (And, truth be told, by the example of their own poems and way of being poets in the world.)

Now would be a good time to stop by or call the store – to buy that collection you’ve been hankering for or meaning to send to a friend. John and Christine have announced that they’ll be open two hours after normal closing time Friday, Saturday and Sunday this week, and invite us to “Come reminisce, socialize, and look towards Open Books’s bright future with other friends of the store.” (More info here.)

Indies First! November 30

Do you know about Indies First, part of Small Business Saturday on Nov. 30?  Sherman Alexie put out a call:

Now is the time to be a superhero for independent bookstores. I want all of us (you and you and especially you) to spend an amazing day hand-selling books at your local independent bookstore on Small Business Saturday (that’s the Saturday after Thanksgiving, November 30 this year, so you know it’s a huge weekend for everyone who, you know, wants to make a living).

Here’s the plan: We book nerds will become booksellers. We will make recommendations. We will practice nepotism and urge readers to buy multiple copies of our friends’ books. Maybe you’ll sign and sell books of your own in the process. I think the collective results could be mind-boggling (maybe even world-changing).

Who could resist that? So, this Saturday, you will find me at two wonderful independent bookstores, and I hope you will share this information with others and buy lots of books at your local independent bookstore.
  • From noon to 2p, I’ll be at Couth Buzzard Books in Greenwood. Other local authors including Peter Mountford and Wendy Joseph will be there throughout the day
  • From 3:30 to 6p, I’ll be at Open Books in Wallingford. The brilliant Maged Zaher will be there from 11a to 2p.
  • Elliott Bay Books is also participating, with our state poet laureate Kathleen Flenniken among the writers planning to be there.
Open Books, the center of my poetry universe.
Open Books, the center of my poetry universe.

Please come and say hi and buy some books!

“Every Dress a Decision” Is Here!

Yippee! Every Dress a Decision has arrived!  You can order signed copies at Blue Begonia Press — we’ll get it to you mid-month or so. Or, come to one of these readings so we can say hello to each other.

April 22, 7pm at Oak Hollow Gallery, 5631 Summitview Ave., Yakima, Wash. (the official East of the Cascades launch)

April 28, 7pm at Cheap Wine and Poetry with Paul Nelson, Roberto Ascalon and Katie Ogle

April 29, 7pm at Village Books in Bellingham

May 4, 7pm.  First Wednesday Reading sponsored by the Oregon Literary Review at Blackbird Wine Shop, Portland, OR

May 6, 7:30pm at Open Books (the official West of the Cascades launch reading)

May 21, 11am at Burning Word in Leavenworth (with fellow Blue Begonia poets Terry Martin, Jim Bodeen and Dan Peters)

May 21, 7pm at Elliott Bay Books

May 23, Poetry Night in Bellingham

 June 1, at C&P Coffee in West Seattle, with Novelist Harold Taw

June 21, 7pm at Innisfree Poetry Bookstore and Cafe in Boulder, Colorado.