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.