read this poem, er, article

January 31, 2015

The AtlanticWhether you are a stalwart reader of poetry or someone who wishes they could read more (or better), Mark Yakich offers some eminently readable advice in The Atlantic: Reading a Poem: 20 Strategies, A guide for the perplexed. In fact, Yakich, who is himself a poet and a teacher of creative writing, presents what is in essence a list poem. It merits, as he suggests all poems do, being read aloud. Enjoy.

calling Tacoma poets!

January 30, 2015

Tacoma Arts Commission

Applications for the 2015-2017 Tacoma Poet Laureate position are now available. The individual selected as Tacoma Poet Laureate will hold the title for two years — from May 2015 to April 2017 — and receive a $2,000 stipend for advancing and actively contributing to Tacoma’s literary community in meaningful ways through readings, performances, workshops, presentations, publications and/or special projects. This individual will also participate in Tacoma Arts Month each October and help produce the 2017 Tacoma Poet Laureate ceremony announcing the next Tacoma Poet Laureate.

Eligibility extends to literary artists who live in Pierce County and are active engaged in Tacoma’s creative community. Applicants must be at least 18 years of age and practicing artists, dedicated to producing poetry in any form, genre or style on a regular basis. Other eligibility requirements apply.

Lucas Smiraldo is the 2013-2015 Poet Laureate. If you think you can fill his shoes, visit the City of Tacoma Arts Opportunities page and download the application. Deadline is Monday, March 2, 2015, at 5:00pm.

on poetry

January 29, 2015

Muna Lee“What of the voices that sound most clearly above the chorus?”
Muna Lee
(January 29, 1895 – April 3, 1965)

temporary poetry walk

January 28, 2015

MSU poetry chalking

In these days of multitudinous journals, readings and instant self-publishing, there are many ways to get your poems in the public eye and ear. Here’s another: poetry chalking. For the fall semester, the Poetry Center at Michigan State University “arranges a poetry chalking on MSU’s campus to meet students and spread the joy of poetry.” They provide the chalk as well as an assortment of poems, though students are invited to write their own. suggests, “Go one step beyond hopscotch squares and write a poem in chalk on your sidewalk!” Teacher Steve Peterson held a “chalk-a-bration” on the sidewalks of his small Iowa town with his 5th-grade students. Poet and teacher Justin Evans chalked poetry in Nevada with his Honors English students.

Caveat 1: Choose your sidewalk carefully; Danny Rowland, in Bath, England, irked local authorities with his political verse chalked on public walkways. Caveat 2: Choose your chalk carefully. Regular sidewalk chalk washes away easily, but other types of chalk may contain oil, which makes them resist removal. More here.

Happy chalking!

photo © Steve Mahler

Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater and Bellingham Repertory Dance (BRD) announce the 2015 Phrasings Collaboration for Writers & Dancers

The 9th annual Phrasings collaboration and performance will offer a fresh constellation of modern dance, film and original poems. Poems will be linked with video creations, drawing inspiration from the dancers and Seattle choreographer Mary Sheldon Scott (known as Molly).

Five performances are scheduled, May 22, 23 and 24, 2015, in Bellingham, Washington, at the Firehouse Performing Arts Center.

BRD is a collective of accomplished dancers dedicated to bringing high-quality, vibrant contemporary dance to the Northwest. They are always looking for new ways to engage visual arts, spoken word and modern dance as an intersection of new ideas and experience. In a special, community-supported effort, BRD contracted with Mary Sheldon Scott to create a completely new 20-minute piece.

This year, five to seven poets will be selected to read their poem as part of the show or to work with videographers on a short film featuring their poem. Writings need to be derived from the work of Ms. Scott and the movement of BRD dancers, so writers are invited to six open rehearsals at the Firehouse (1314 Harris Avenue in Fairhaven) to watch and write. Come prepared to freewrite while watching preparations for the show in the hope that the dancers’ movements might inspire “phrasings,” images or a storyline that will become a poem.

The open rehearsals are Friday, January 30, 2015, 2:00 to 4:00pm and 6:00-9:00pm; Saturday, January 31, 11:30am to 4:30pm (full company from 2-4:30pm only); and every Friday in February, 12:30 to 2:30 pm. Writers may drop in without an appointment for as long as desired.

All winning submissions will be presented in a Phrasings 2015 chapbook. Poets whose poems are selected will receive a video of their poem. One submission from every poet will be printed and displayed during the shows.

Guidelines provided by Chuckanut Sandstone Writers:

We are looking for a wide range of poetry and all forms of writing to be selected for:

  • Originality, and not previously published or performed.
  • Vivid imagery – with content that’s personal, pastoral, featuring the natural world, tactile.
  • Lyrical qualities – gives attention to rhythm and language.

Themes – Please consider suspension and/or interdependency as themes for your concrete images, narratives or imaginings. You may or may not use the actual words, but let suspension and/or interdependency become your context. (And if the theme doesn’t work for you, your poem without the theme might work for us. Let nothing hold you back from submitting.)

Your entry must be e-mailed by Sunday, February 22, 2015.

  1. To submit: e-mail your entry(ies) to Use the subject line: Submission Phrasings 2015.
  2. Submit one to three separate poems as a pdf or Word attachment. Do not put your name on the attachment. Limit yourself to pieces that are one to two pages in length.
  3. In the body of the e-mail, please list the titles (or first lines) of the submissions and your name, phone number, street address and e-mail address.

The videographers will select the two submissions that they want to work with, and will contact the poets for further development. A reading committee will select the three to five poems to be read and featured at the show.

Receipt of your submission and outcomes with follow-up details will be sent via e-mail. Send your comments or questions to Carla Shafer, via e-mail to:

Further inspiration: Mary Sheldon Scott is a visual artist as well as a choreographer, so be sure to visit her website. Her artwork will be on display at the Firehouse Café during May.
. . . . .
Bellingham Repertory Dance photo © Steve Mahler

new from VB

January 26, 2015

Village Books Writing

Bellingham’s Village Books, which already schedules many hundreds of Literature Live readings each year and offers book groups and writing groups galore, now has a monthly e-newsletter targeted to writers. Just Write! recaps writing-related events, classes and information, along with news, resources, tips and prompts. Visit the Village Books Writers’ Corner online to see more and sign up.

another poetry walk

January 25, 2015

Robert Burns Steps in Ayr, Scotland

January 25 is the birthday of poet Robert Burns (January 25, 1759 – July 21, 1796), which we celebrate here by adding this handsome poetry walk to our growing collection. We recently mentioned a Gordon Young project done in collaboration with Why Not Associates. This is another.

Created in 1998, the Burns Steps are located outside the Tam O’ Shanter pub in Ayr, Ayrshire, Scotland. The granite steps are carved with a verse from Burns’s poem “Scotch Drink.” More, but not much more, here.

O, pen, again

January 24, 2015

photo by Ramsey Mohsen

Now and then we like to offer some encouragement to those of you who know you should be submitting poems for publication. Here’s a list. These are national publications based in the Cascadia region. The links take you to the submission guidelines. We can’t make it a whole lot easier. Get busy.

A River and Sound Review ~ open reading period is February 1 to May 31.

Alice Blue Review ~ is accepting submissions.

Burnside Review ~ accepts submissions year-round.

Cascadia Review ~ considers submissions year-round.

Clover, A Literary Rag ~ accepting submissions now for the Summer 2015 issue.

High Desert Journal ~ reads submissions year-round.

Isthmus ~ reads submissions year-round.

Jeopardy ~ is accepting submissions through March 2, 2015.

The Monarch Review ~ reads submissions year-round.

The Other Journal ~ accepting submissions for ‘The Trauma Issue’ until February 1, 2015.

Pacifica Literary Review ~ open to submissions September 15th to May 15th.

PageBoy Magazine ~ reads submissions year-round.

Poetry Northwest ~ accepts submissions September 15 – March 15.

Portland Review ~ accepting submissions through January 31, 2015.

Raven Chronicles ~ submission guidelines for the summer/fall 2015 issue will be posted in February.

The Seattle Review ~ accepts long-form submissions year-round.

Shark Reef ~ is accepting submissions through March 31, 2015.

Silk Road Review ~ reads submissions year-round.

StringTown Magazine ~ reads submissions year-round (submit by mail only).

Switched-on Gutenberg ~ is accepting poems on the theme “excuses” November 1, 2014 to March 31, 2015.

Tin House ~ accepts submissions September 1 through May 31.

Willow Springs ~ accepts submissions between September 1 and May 31.

Windfall ~ will accept poems of place for the spring issue until February 1, 2015.

Poet, submit.

NOTE 1: Literary journals come and go. We try to keep track of those in the region, but if you know of one that is not listed among the NW lit scene links in the sidebar, at right, please leave a comment!

NOTE 2: This list focuses on literary journal submissions and does not include contests, prizes or chapbook awards (for example, Crab Creek Review, Floating Bridge Press Chapbook Competition, Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest).

NOTE 3: Before submitting your work, always read a copy of the publication and read and follow the submission guidelines carefully.
. . . . .
photo by Ramsey Mohsen

Jazz Jam and Poetry Slam

Bellingham’s iDiom Theater is starting some late-night events and one of them is a series of poetry slams. On the last Friday of every month, Tobias Childs will host the Jazz Jam and Poetry Slam, reviving a series started by Glenn Apollo Hergenhahn-Zhao more than a decade ago. This triumphant return will include a live jazz band from WWU, a featured poet each month, and a cash prize!

On Friday, January 30, 2015, Jam and Slam features Tim Sanders, a Seattle-based poet, playwright and graphic designer whose writing and designs have appeared in The Stranger, HENHOUSE magazine, ACT Theatre, Yes! Magazine, and 826 Seattle’s Greenwood Space Travel Supply Co. His works for stage have been produced in Seattle, Chicago, New York and other places unknown to him. He also helped put on the original Jazz Jam & Poetry Slam with Glenn and others.

The JJPS will offer a $100 CASH PRIZE to the winning poet who, along with the runner-up, also receives a spot in the coveted Grand Slam Finale on April 17.
8 poets, 3 rounds, 1 Tim Sanders & 1 Winner who, as customary, is chosen by the audience.

There is a student discount and also still slots available if you want to try and compete for the 100 big ones. See more on this and other iDiOM late night events on Facebook.


January 22, 2015

National Readathon Day

Looking for an excuse to spend the day reading? Here it is! Saturday, January 24, 2015, is the first-ever National Readathon Day. In fact, it’s a fundraising event for the National Book Foundation, which promotes literacy and reading. “It’s like a walk-a-thon charity drive, but we’re turning pages instead of walking laps.” Learn more about National Readathon Day, then pledge and play!