found Valentine

February 14, 2016

found poem © j.i. kleinberg - touch
found poem © j.i. kleinberg

Early-bird tickets available!

February 13, 2016

Skagit River Poetry FestivalTickets are now on sale for the 2016 Skagit River Poetry Festival, May 19-22 in the historic town of La Conner, Washington. The four-day event features some of the most renowned and diverse names in poetry, including Naomi Shihab Nye, a celebrated Arab-American writer described as “international in scope and internal in focus.” She is four-time winner of the prestigious Pushcart Prize.

The 9th biennial festival opens with a literary bang on May 19, when spoken word poets take the stage in a program called “Wake Up. Speak Out,” challenging audiences with new poetic ideas and forms. Participants include Jeanann Verlee, who has represented New York City ten times at the National Poetry Slam; Jamaal May, Detroit poet and filmmaker; Daemond Arrindell, curator of the Seattle Poetry Slam; American-Bangladeshi poet, educator, editor, and spoken-word artist Tarfia Faizullah; and Seattle Grand Slam champion Matt Gano.

Over the next two days, the festival presents some of the most thoughtful and provocative voices in contemporary poetry, reflecting cultures from around the world. The lineup includes Aimee Nezhukumatathil, a poet born to a Filipina mother and Malayali Indian father; Natalie Diaz, a member of the Mojave and Pima Indian tribes and a former professional basketball player; Zen Buddhist priest and poet Norman Fischer; poet Lorna Dee Cervantes, a major voice in contemporary Chicana literature; and Koon Woon, born in a small Chinese village near Canton in 1949 and described as a “cross-cultural rebel.”

Top Northwest poets on the bill include Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellow Richard Kenney from Port Townsend; Canadian musician, philosopher, and award-winning poet Jan Zwicky; and Washington State’s new Poet Laureate Tod Marshall, a professor at Gonzaga University who is dedicated to bringing humanities to underserved populations. “Poetry matters — not just to poets, professors, and students — poetry matters to everyone,” he says.

Events include a Thursday night Soiree extravaganza, a mixer with festival artists that includes wine and delicious, locally sourced hors d’oeuvres. On Sunday, the final day of the festival, select poets will offer writing workshops to the public. The workshops will be posted on the Festival Workshops page and at Brown Paper Tickets in April.

Tickets for all other events are on sale now at Be sure to click through the dates and ticket offerings on the menu. Special discounts are available for students with ID and seniors over 65. Unless sold out, tickets will also be available at the door. Get your Early Bird ticket by March 1 and save $25.

The festival takes place in venues throughout La Conner. “The festival turns La Conner into a town filled with poetry, from its churches to its museums, its community center, and its bed and breakfasts,” says poet Susan Rich. “Where else can a person sleep, eat, live, and breathe poetry for a spring weekend?”

The festival, one of the largest celebrations of poetry on the West Coast, is put on by the Skagit River Poetry Foundation, a non-profit organization that brings poets into school classrooms year-round to promote literacy, an appreciation of language, and youth participation in culturally diverse communities. All proceeds benefit the foundation’s mission to support lifelong literacy and cultural diversity through the writing, reading, performing, and teaching of poetry in Northwest Washington schools and communities.

For more information, visit the festival website at (, email, or call 360-399-1550.

Reasons to go to…New York

February 12, 2016

Barbara Guest - Fay Lansner

From February 20 through April 23, 2016, Poets House will host the exhibition Metamorphosis: The Collaboration of Poet Barbara Guest & Artist Fay Lansner. The show tracks their long collaboration and friendship through drawings, paintings, collages and portraits. On Saturday, February 20, there will be a tour of the exhibition and a conversation with Erica Lansner, Gabrielle Lansner, and exhibition curator Raphael Rubinstein followed by the opening reception.

More about Barbara Guest. More about Fay Lansner.

Poets Wanted: Dead or Alive

February 11, 2016

Poets Wanted: Dead or Alive

Back by popular demand, it’s Poets Wanted: Dead or Alive, featuring presentations and discussions led by Michael Dylan Welch about famous dead poets. Join us at the Redmond Library (15990 NE 85th Street, Redmond, WA) for the first event on Thursday, February 11, 2016, celebrating the poetry of Sylvia Plath. Starts at 6:30 pm. Free!

Join us for all dates in this series:

Thursday, February 11: Sylvia Plath
Tuesday, February 16: William Stafford
Tuesday, February 23: Maya Angelou
Tuesday, March 1: Dr. Seuss (families welcome for the first hour)
Tuesday, March 15: Wallace Stevens
Tuesday, March 22: Shel Silverstein (families welcome for the first hour)
Tuesday, March 29: Allen Ginsberg

Come and learn more about these poets, featuring videos, biographical information, and selected poems — and bring your favorite poems by these poets to read or discuss. Everyone welcome!

poem tech

February 11, 2016

Secretary Bird

Now and then, we talk about apps related to poetry and here’s one that recently came to our attention. Secretary Bird is a free “poets workbench support application” designed specifically to help poets organize their poetry writing, revisions, submissions, readings, critiques, etc.

The developer, John Richardson, is a British poet and web designer; non-British English speakers may find some slight (but not critical) differences in terminology. While we can’t vouch for the software, Richardson has created a handsome website (with the sole exception of the video, which is a bit tedious), so if you are comfortable in the world of new technology and you’re looking for a new way to wrangle your poems, you might try Secretary Bird. Feedback welcome.

on poetry

February 10, 2016

Author Boris Pasternak at Peredelkino, a writer's colony, October 1958Black spring! Pick up your pen, and weeping, / Of February, in sobs and ink, / Write poems, while the slush in thunder / Is burning in the black of spring.
Boris Pasternak
(February 10, 1890 – May 30, 1960)
. . . . .
Excerpt from “Black February” by Boris Pasternak; read the complete poem as translated by the poet’s sister, Lydia Pasternak Slater.

Mardi Gras

February 9, 2016

film by Elizabeth Lennard

In honor of Mardi Gras, which is today, Tuesday, February 9, here is something a bit different: a 1979 film by artist Elizabeth Lennard based on a poem by the modernist Blaise Cendrars. The 9-minute film is in French and English; the complete poem, in French, is here. Watch “Mardi Gras based on a poem by Blaise Cendrars” by Elizabeth Lennard.


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