Seattle Civic Poet

February 3, 2023

Congratulations to Shin Yu Pai, who has just been selected as 2023-2024 Seattle Civic Poet.

The Civic Poet serves as a cultural ambassador for Seattle’s rich, multi-hued literary landscape and represents Seattle’s diverse cultural community. In addition to annual City events, the Civic Poet fosters community dialogue and engagement between the City, the public, and other artists, while celebrating the literary arts.


February 2, 2023

It’s February, the shortest month, and that means it’s National Haiku Writing Month (NaHaiWriMo). Get your haiku on. Learn more at the NaHaiWriMo website and find daily prompts by NaHaiWriMo founder Michael Dylan Welch on the NaHaiWriMo Facebook page, where you can also share yours.

on poetry

February 1, 2023

“It’s fascinating how you write a book. You consciously weave certain things in. Then some things are unconsciously woven into the book, both because you write one poem at a time but also because the motivations for each poem exist within the world of that poem. They subconsciously transcend the world of that poem and go to other places.”
Reginald Dwayne Betts
(b. February 1, 1980)

. . . . .

plenty to read

January 31, 2023

Further recommendations for your overburdened bookshelf:

If you’ve been moved by a book of poetry, recent or otherwise, leave a comment with the author and title!


January 29, 2023

2022 Walk Award
By Alina Tsakhniv

Snow falls outside
A blue house stands,
the streetlamp shining
Inside in a dark room
in front of a large window
I stand with my dad
He is holding an accordion
his father passed down to him,
Playing a soft song
Six generations deep
As my younger sister sleeps
I softy sing the song my grandmother taught me,
“Коли Дух Господній наповняє мене”
The snow falls faster
as I look out the window,
wondering about war.

*Copyright © 2022 by Alina Tsakhniv. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s note:
The line in Ukrainian translates as When the Spirit of the Lord fills me.

Congratulations to the five Oregon Book Awards poetry finalists:

  • Matthew Dickman of Portland, Husbandry (W. W. Norton & Co.)
  • Michele Glazer of Portland, fretwork (University of Iowa Press)
  • Janice Lee of Portland, Separation Anxiety (CLASH Books)
  • Amy Miller of Ashland, Astronauts (Beloit Poetry Journal)
  • Eric Tran of Portland, Mouth, Sugar, and Smoke (Diode Editions)

The winner will be announced live at the 2023 Oregon Book Awards Ceremony, hosted by Luke Burbank, at Portland Center Stage at The Armory on Monday, April 3, 2023. See the complete list of finalists in all categories.

Carla Shafer, prolific poet, longtime facilitator of Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, and editor of Solstice: Light & Dark of the Salish Sea, is assembling a new anthology: Poems to End Racism. Here’s the complete call from Carla:

I am collecting poems to address racism for an anthology celebrating Autumn and Spring Equinoxes as times of equity and balance. Poems (all forms) will show equity as a condition that can be celebrated at least twice a year, once in Spring (the season of new growth and endless possibilities) and once in Fall (the season of fruiting and abundance).

Selected poems will share an awareness of self and of the natural world that imagines, demonstrates, and/or calls for an end to racism, an end to hate and systems of oppression of an “other.” These poems will explore it, expose it, and break it up with images and experiences and may also give a vision of humanity at its best.

Create your own expression of equinoxes out of your experiences and the natural world where you can lift up personal/family stories authentic to experiences of racism during the last 15,000 years. Please look through your experience of how racism resides in you, what you want to share for others to see in fresh ways.

If you want to experiment with a poem crafted together with another poet, that works. Remember, your poems will be in the company of like-minded poets and writers who together will explore a whole panorama on racism and equity in well-crafted work with insights and flashes of clarity to resonate with another’s mind and heart.

Submit in MSWord or pages as an attachment (PDF okay) to:
Submission deadline: Monday, July 31, 2023
Indicate if your poem is in the Spring or Fall Equinox.
Limits: Poem length of 33 lines fills a page, maximum of 2 pages. Short poems are welcome, too. Line breaks occur at 58 spaces/characters.

The panel will look for diversity that demonstrates the problems of racism and oppression of other. While we resist labels, for the purposes of getting deep consideration (and if comfortable doing it), please include your name, racial and ethnic identities with pronouns, and year you were born. If you are white and submitting, invite a person of color who will submit too. If you are a person of color who writes poems, please submit. If you identify as LGBTQI or A, please submit.

If you would like to be on the panel of readers who recommend poems for the anthology, please let me know. You will be fully acknowledged.

Thanks! If you have questions, send your questions to me in an e-mail.
Carla Shafer, Writer, Editor, Publisher
She/her – 4th generation American/Czech-German heritage/Protestant/1944
Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater
Bellingham, Washington, USA

Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest opened the January 10, 2023, session of the Washington State legislature with her poem “These Abundant and Generous Homelands.” Her reading, and the full text of Rena’s poem, can be viewed on YouTube.

words from a cloud*

January 22, 2023

2022 Walk Award
By Matthew Stuckey

“…all the flowers are forms of water.
the sun reminds them through a white cloud…”
W.S. Merwin

you think my body is light
as air but I am
the weight of water
heavy as stones
above your head

I am water that
moves in oceans above you
I am a form of river and
ancient glacier shining

the pink cherry blossoms are
also forms of water
the egret in the light
an old tortoise hiding

and in the night
your words of despair as well

*Copyright © 2022 by Matthew Stuckey. Broadside illustrated by Kimberly Wulfestieg.

Poet’s bio:
Matthew Stuckey lives with his wonderful wife in Bellingham, Washington, where he practices acupuncture and wanders around in the mountains. This is his first published poem and will hopefully not be his last. The cloudy PNW and W.S. Merwin’s poem “Rain Light” inspired the poem “words from a cloud.”

NOTE: a chapbook of the 2022 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems, including this one, is available at Village Books in Bellingham. All sales profits benefit the annual contest.

on poetry

January 21, 2023

“Don’t you think details help you focus? Sometimes it’s only by listening in the falling darkness for the chittering of small invisible sparrows that you’re able to locate the Great Horned Owl.”
Forrest Gander
(b. January 21, 1956)

. . . . .
photo by Ashwini Bhat

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