on writing…

May 31, 2013

Walt Whitman portrait by G. Frank E. Pearsall

“The best writing has no lace on its sleeves.” Walt Whitman
(May 31, 1819 –
March 26, 1892)

. . . . .
Walt Whitman portrait by Frank E. Pearsall
Albumen silver print, 1872
National Portrait Gallery
Smithsonian Institution

Pop Up PoetsIf you spend any time online, the chances are good that you’ve taken in, perhaps enjoyed, a short film of a flash mob — typically singers or musicians or dancers suddenly appearing in a public space, performing a well-rehearsed number and then vanishing back into the comings and goings of an ordinary day.

Well, here’s poetry, flash-mob style. PUP: Pop Up Poets/Poets in Unexpected Places is a New York-based group of poets that stages readings in unexpected places: ferry boats, trains, laundromats, grocery stores, even at Victoria’s Secret! It’s not about passing the hat; it’s about placing “poets and spoken word artists into the public arena” — public being the operative word.

Here’s a swell article on PUP in the The New York Times. Find out more on the Pop Up Poets website or on Facebook.

see some books…

May 29, 2013

Puget Sound Book Artists

The 3rd Annual Puget Sound Book Artists (PSBA) Members Exhibition opens next Thursday, June 6, 2013, in Collins Memorial Library on the University of Puget Sound campus, in Tacoma. The exhibit features the work of 30 artists who explore the many permutations of the book as object.

The work remains on display through July and there will be a conversation with the artists in mid-June. Learn more about PSBA and the exhibition on the PSBA website and on Facebook.

pie ‘n poetry

May 28, 2013

Kate Lebo - a commonplace book of pieWe’re always happy to see “local” poets featured in distinguished publications, so we were pleased to see “Cookbooks, Compost Heaps, and Poetry Booby Traps: A Conversation with Poet and Pie-maker Kate Lebo” in Ploughshares Literary Magazine.

The prize-winning poet, pie-maker and instructor is an MFA graduate of the University of Washington and the former registrar and volunteer coordinator at Richard Hugo House. Her handmade book, A Commonplace Book of Pie, became a surprise bestseller and will be published in October as a full-length illustrated book by Chin Music Press.

Read more on Kate Lebo’s site, Pie School, and visit her Etsy store to pick up one of the few remaining copies of the original Book of Pie.


May 27, 2013

Writing Without a ParachuteBarbara Turner-Vesselago is a writer and teacher. Her technique, which she calls Freefall writing, encourages writers to “get the thinking mind to step aside, so that writing becomes a truly vulnerable and open-hearted engagement with the moment.”

In workshops and retreats throughout the world (and online), Barbara supports and encourages participants in this creative exploration.

Barbara will be in Bellingham to talk about Freefall and read from her new book, Writing Without a Parachute: the Art of Freefall (Vala Publishing), on Sunday, June 2, 2013, at 2:00pm at Village Books.

Here’s what Barbara says about working with poets:

“Although most writers who come to my workshops seem headed in the direction of prose, I find it so exciting to come across writers whose Freefall shows me that their path is poetry. I can say — I do say — that Freefall writing is prior to any genre, but the Freefall writing of people who have a poetic turn of mind can be such breathtaking work of high play. All a poet has to do, I find, is to fully undertake to follow the precepts in his or her own unique way, and something magical starts to take place with the words on the page — magic that can stay with the writer, all the way through the revision process and into the finished poem.”

Here’s what some local writers have to say about Freefall:

“Freefall Writing has gifted me with the confidence to disregard my self-critic who demands adherence to academic dictates and self-imposed restraint. My muse learned how to ascend into the greater blue beyond through the fabulous plunge.” Marla Morrow

“Barbara appreciated that my approach to Freefall was quite different from that of the prose writers and centered on the primacy of image and sensory details.” Susan J. Erickson

“Barbara’s approach is not about method or medium. It doesn’t matter if you’re writing sci-fi or poetry or cookbooks. Freefall opens the tap on the writer’s true voice.” J.I. Kleinberg

Come meet Barbara Turner-Vesselago at Village Books and learn more about Freefall writing.


May 26, 2013

Jim Milstead ~ Collage
2013 Merit Award
By Jim Milstead**

Vistas of blue bay. Leaden waters ruffled by wind.
Soft curtains. Drenched collectables. Torn remnants.
White-sailed relaxation. Raw taste of hunger.

Hand carved gluttonies. Vast white mountains
tinged with alpenglow. Yells. Curses. Gallery walks.
Banked slaloms. Bounced checks. Open mic

anticipations. Bone dry witticisms. Sermonized
imaginations. Wetland pollution. Official cadence
of restrained ambivalence. Tails wagging

furiously. Identity theft Neuroscience on tap.
Thimbleberry delights. Earthworm desiccations.
Hospice devotion. Fault lined inevitability.

Sandstone magnificence. Kaleidoscopic uncertainty.
Rag town of bleak streets, chilled conclusions.

The echo of your voice.
. . . . .
*Copyright 2013 by Jim Milstead. Placard design by Egress Studio.
**Happy Birthday, Jim!

The World of Life*

May 25, 2013

Emily Spector-Van Zee
2013 Walk Award
by Emily Spector-Van Zee (Kindergarten)

I want to be free in the mountains.
In the mountains I want to plant
a hundred million flags.
Each one is for whoever wants to own the mountain.
          A flag for each person so there’s no war.
          There’s plenty of room for everyone.

. . . . .

EXTRA congratulations to this year’s youngest Boynton winner, 6-year-old Emily Spector-Van Zee, who, in addition to her Walk Award, has also won first place in the Kindergarten category for the KBTC PBS Writer’s Contest. See Emily’s illustrated story here. She is now being entered into the national PBS contest as the Kindergarten representative for Washington state! Emily and her story will be recorded, animated and featured on TV throughout western Washington.

*Copyright 2013 Emily Spector-Van Zee. Placard design by Egress Studio.

on poetry…

May 24, 2013

Joseph Brodsky

“Poetry is a tremendous school of insecurity and uncertainty. You never know whether what you’ve done is any good, still less whether you’ll be able to do anything good tomorrow.” Joseph Brodsky (May 24, 1940 – January 28, 1996)

. . . . .
Photo of Josepf Brodsky teaching at the University of Michigan, about 1972

newly hatched Egyptian tortoise at Chester Zoo, UK

…celebrate World Turtle Day, May 23!

Lest you think this subject does not merit the attention of poets, we offer the following links:

Turtle by Kay Ryan

The Little Turtle by Vachel Lindsay

and here, an entire collection of turtle poetry courtesy of the Chelonian Research Foundation.

Today may be the perfect day to write a turtle poem.
. . . . .

stamp lit

May 22, 2013

Dublin story stamp by Eoin Moore

There are short-short stories and then there are short-short-small stories, like this one. In July 2010, Dublin, Ireland, was designated a UNESCO City of Literature. To commemorate that status, the city invited primary and secondary school participants in a writing program called Fighting Words to submit stories that captured ‘the essence of Dublin’ in precisely 224 words.

The winning entry, by then-17-year-old Eoin Moore, was printed on a bright yellow 60¢ postage stamp and issued last week. Sweet!

Read more about the new Dublin stamp (including a slightly larger version of the text), find out more on the Irish Post page, and see our previous posts about literary postage stamps here and here.