Thursday online

December 2, 2020

Tomorrow, Thursday, December 3, 2020, Edmonds Center for the Arts (Edmonds, WA) presents the first-ever WE SPEAK Festival, a virtual, evening-length celebration of spoken word poetry and storytelling. Featuring critically-acclaimed artists Jericho Brown, Andrea Gibson, Kealoha, Shane Koyczan, and Robin Sanders, alongside talented local youth chosen through a juried selection process, WE SPEAK seeks to embody the complex themes and concerns of the year 2020.

Admission is “Pay What You Can $5-$45” and the festival will be available for playback by ticket holders for four days after the live program.

Additional details in My Edmonds News.

Best-of season!

December 1, 2020

Let it begin! We’ve been tracking recommendations all year long and now it’s time for the pundits to weigh in on the best poetry books of 2020. Here is the first round of top titles:

poetry in your ears

November 30, 2020

If recent publications are any indication, poetry readers are also eager to listen. Several poets have issued audio versions of their latest books at the same time as the books themselves. For example,
Margaret Atwood, Dearly
Jericho Brown, The Tradition
Barbara Kingsolver, How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons)
Aimee Nezhukumatathil, World of Wonders

In addition, here are some other places to find audio poetry:

Happy listening!

Lake Louise Spring*

November 29, 2020


2020 Merit Award
By Judy Bishop

Cold rivulets run down over rocks,
through woods, finally flow into the lake.
Hillside alders beaten by winter’s wrath,
limbs bent, broken into submission.
The well-worn path, wet and muddy,
crisscrossed by rabbits and squirrels.
Robins — hearty spring harbingers — hop, stop,
cock their heads. Red-winged Blackbirds cling
to cattails, cry, divert attention from nests.
Nervous geese, eager to mate, squawk
and take flight at slightest sounds.

Pink Salmonberry blossoms beckon Rufous
Hummingbirds. Western Skunk Cabbage cups
curled leaves in prayer.

Sunshine and the stay-at-home order welcome
trail walkers. We dance our six foot distance,
warmly greeting neighbors never met before.

The south wind forms honey-comb patterns on
the lake. Below the surface, lilies in their dark
unseen secret world, not unlike the virus, begin
their epic journey toward the light. So do we.

*Copyright 2020 by Judy Bishop. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Living Nations, Living Words

November 28, 2020

As you may have heard, Librarian of Congress Carla Hayden has announced the appointment of U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo to a third term, to begin in September 2021. Harjo is only the second laureate to receive this extension since terms for the position were established in 1943.

Among the laureate’s responsibilities is the creation of a signature project. Hayden’s announcement also marks the launch of Harjo’s signature project, “Living Nations, Living Words.” Designed to “introduce the country to the many Native poets who live in these lands….The ‘Living Nations, Living Words’ project features a sampling of work by 47 Native Nations poets through an interactive ArcGIS Story Map and a newly developed Library of Congress audio collection.”

“Each of the 47 Native Nations poets featured in ‘Living Nations, Living Words’ selected an original poem on the theme of place and displacement, and with four touchpoints in mind: visibility, persistence, resistance, and acknowledgment.” Forty-seven may not sound like a lot, but this is an ambitious project. Follow the links above to learn about the poets, hear and read the poems, and read transcripts of the poets reading and discussing their poems. All of the material is now archived in the Library of Congress.

on poetry

November 27, 2020


“I am trying to imagine language without light, as though I wanted to understand how things were before language, when, deep in the throat, syllables and vowels were not yet organized and it was necessary to tilt one’s head back to allow sounds to fly through the open air, terrifying, guttural or strident.”
Nicole Brossard
(b. November 27, 1943)

. . . . .
photo
quote: Fences in Breathing

Thanksgiving

November 26, 2020

poem and art © j.i. kleinberg

change, one word at a time

November 25, 2020

If you are a writer, linguist, lexicographer, sociolinguist, language technologist, word enthusiast, or someone interested in how languages evolve, you may be interested in the fascinating, free, downloadable Words of an Unprecedented Year report from Oxford University Press.

In addition, there will be a free webinar, Words of an unprecedented year: Behind the scenes of the Oxford Languages’ Word of the Year 2020, on Thursday, December 10, 2020, at 7:00am Pacific. It will be recorded and available for later viewing. Registration is required.

study some poetry

November 24, 2020

Soapstone is a grassroots literary organization that has been around since 1992 and currently operates out of Portland, Oregon. From
1998 through 2010, Soapstone provided residencies to more than 375 writers at a retreat in Oregon’s Coast Range. These days, Soapstone provides grants to support ad hoc events and short-term study groups that introduce or offer the opportunity to delve into the work of women writers. All events and study groups are open to the public.

Soapstone has three all-online study groups slated for the winter/spring season:

Reading Natasha Tretheway, led by Andrea Hollander
Six Saturday Mornings, January 9 through February 13, 2021, 10:00am to Noon Pacific

Reading Bernardine Evaristo’s GIRL, WOMAN, OTHER, led by Tricia Snell
Six Saturday Mornings, February 27 through April 10 (skipping March 27), 2021, 10:00am to Noon Pacific

Reading Claudia Rankine, led by Ashley Toliver
Six Saturday Mornings, April 24 through May 29, 2021, 10:00am to Noon Pacific

Fees are very modest and class size is very limited. Visit Soapstone for details.

National Book Awards

November 23, 2020

Congratulations to poet Don Mee Choi, whose book DMZ Colony (Wave Books) was named winner of the 2020 National Book Award in Poetry. Poetry finalists are Mei-mei Berssenbrugge, A Treatise on Stars (New Directions), Tommye Blount, Fantasia for the Man in Blue (Four Way Books), Anthony Cody, Borderland Apocrypha
(Omnidawn Publishing), and Natalie Diaz, Postcolonial Love Poem
(Graywolf Press).

See a complete list of winners and finalists in all categories, watch the November 18 awards ceremony, meet the 5 Under 35 Honorees for 2020, and read about the 2020 National Book Awards Judges.

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