awards season

June 30, 2020

The Poetry Society of America has announced the winners of the 2020 Annual Awards. See the complete list of winners and finalists and read sample poems here. You can also see and hear a number of the winners reading their work with the links provided below (but not on the PSA website):

Atsuro Riley is the winner of the 2020 Alice Fay Di Castagnola Award for a manuscript in progress. Atsuro Riley reads “Oak”

Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the winner of the 2020 Robert H. Winner Memorial Award for a selection of poems by a mid-career poet. Teri Ellen Cross Davis reads “The Goddess of Cleaning”

Michael Dumanis is the winner of the 2020 Lyric Poetry Award. Michael Dumanis reads “The Empire of Light”

JinJin Xu is the winner of the 2020 George Bogin Memorial Award for a selection of poems that use language in an original way to reflect the encounter of the ordinary and the extraordinary and to take a stand against oppression in any of its forms. JinJin Xu reads from “To Red Dust (II)”

David Keplinger is the winner of the 2020 Emily Dickinson Award for a poem inspired by Emily Dickinson’s work. David Keplinger reads “Reading Emily Dickinson in Amherst Massachusetts”

Dai “Debby” Shi is the winner of the 2020 Student Poetry Award. Dai “Debby” Shi reading “It’s Too Early”

summer school

June 29, 2020

If you’ve ever felt like you jumped into the deep end of poetry, here’s a chance to put on your water wings and start over. Johns Hopkins University Alexander Grass Humanities Institute is offering a free online summer “blast course”: How to Read Poetry.

The five-week course will meet on Zoom for one lecture and one live discussion session each week, Mondays and Thursdays, from July 13 through August 14, 2020. “Through lectures on sound, image, language, and genre, you will learn what poetry is made of, and discover, along the way, poets of various national and historical traditions, from Shakespeare to Claudia Rankine.”

Details and registration here.

Oregon Book Awards

June 28, 2020

Congratulations to Portland, Oregon, poet Ashley Toliver, who received the Stafford/Hall Award for Poetry for her book Spectra (Coffee House Press).

See the complete list of Oregon Book Award winners and hear all of the OBA finalists reading from their works.

island poetry

June 27, 2020

The Town of Friday Harbor and Friday Harbor Arts Commission (FHAC) have announced the winners of their first Poetry Garden Contest. A blind judging process was used to review 271 poems submitted by 90 San Juan County residents. Final selections were made by Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna and include 20 adults and 10 students grades 3 to 12.

Winning poems will be published in a book as well as engraved for display at four outdoor poetry gardens located in Friday Harbor at the San Juan Community Theatre, the Mullis Community Senior Center, next to the post office, and at the waterfront viewing area below Downriggers. Congratulations to the poets and to Friday Harbor.

If your summer travels, such as they are, include San Juan Island, be sure to browse the newly installed poems.

. . . . .
Poetry Garden photo by Rebecca Cook

on poetry

June 26, 2020

“Beware, my body and my soul, beware above all of crossing your arms and assuming the sterile attitude of the spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of griefs is not a proscenium, and a man who wails is not a dancing bear.”
Aimé Césaire
(June 26, 1913 – April 17, 2008)

. . . . .
photo
quote from Notebook of a Return to the Native Land


Image credit: Seattle Early Music

This is a guest post by
Jennifer Bullis

In January 2018, out of the blue, I received an email from a composer in Seattle. He wanted to compose a cantata about the mythical Sirens, he explained, and was looking for a librettist. He had an idea: to seek a poet to write the lyrics. Standing in Elliott Bay Book Store, browsing the recently published Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse, he flipped to the mythology section, where a poem of mine happened to appear. When he contacted me, I was intrigued by his concept and by the prospect of working with someone in a different artistic medium. Thus began my collaboration with Aaron Grad on “Honey-Sweet We Sing for You.”

Aaron detailed for me his ideas for the cantata and his reasons for choosing the Sirens as his subject. Inspired by the #MeToo movement and Emily Wilson’s new translation of The Odyssey, he wanted to compose an original piece reimagining the story of the Sirens from their own point of view. Based on his idea, Early Music Seattle was planning a myth-themed concert of short pieces by Baroque-era composers, highlighting women’s stories and voices, for the 2019-2020 season.

This collaboration has been an education and a joy for me at every phase of the process. Aaron asked me to draft the libretto first, and then he composed the music to it, and we worked together to revise the libretto as the whole cantata took shape. Initially, to help me prepare to write, Aaron gave me a fascinating crash course in operatic vocal composition and the cantata form. I learned, for example, about recitative and aria passages, including the good and necessary “rage aria,” a section conveying the character’s fury at being wronged.

Developing the content, I got to research other versions of the Sirens myth, and found useful models for transformation in Ovid’s Metamorphoses. It offered Aaron and me a different way into the Sirens narrative, one that de-centers Odysseus and his sailors and focuses instead on the Sirens’ original devotion to, loss of, and search to recover the goddess Persephone after her abduction by Hades. In this new context, the Sirens’ songs of enchantment can be imagined as not only a seductive lure to sailors, but as cries of outrage, grief, and searching. “We sing for her,” sings the soprano voice in the cantata’s final recitative; “We sing for all our sisters.” The program’s title was adapted from this lyric.

Since planning for “For All Our Sisters” began, it expanded to include even more women’s voices and artistic forms. EMS Executive Director Gus Denhard commissioned Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna to narrate the program and perform original poems, and Seattle dancer Milvia Pacheco to choreograph and perform an original dance.

The live performance was scheduled for May 30th, but because of the pandemic is being rescheduled. In the meantime, Early Music Seattle is posting an exciting series of videos in which the program’s musicians and other artistic contributors, filming from home, present excerpts and discuss their visions for amplifying women’s voices through their performances. You can watch these videos on Early Music Seattle, with new videos posted weekly, and enjoy these artistic collaborations highlighting women’s voices and stories.

In addition to the links embedded above, learn more at:

. . . . .
Jennifer Bullis is the author of the chapbook Impossible Lessons (MoonPath Press). Her poems and essays appear in Verse Daily, Cave Wall, Water~Stone Review, Terrain.org, Cherry Tree, Gulf Coast, and Under a Warm Green Linden. She is nominee for Pushcart and Best New Poets awards, and is recipient of an Artsmith Residency fellowship. Her full-length manuscripts have been finalists for the Brittingham & Felix Pollak Prizes for Poetry and the Moon City Poetry Award.

LiTFUSE 2020, virtually

June 24, 2020

The wonderful late-September gathering of poets in Tieton, Washington, LiTFUSE, has announced that the show will go on, as a fully virtual program.

  • LiTFUSE 2020 will take place September 25-27. Workshops and related programming will be offered in the weeks leading up to the main event.
  • Registration fees will be reduced to $150 per person and include virtual access to all regular workshop classes. Master classes will be available for an additional fee.
  • The poetry slam and keynote events will take place virtually. In place of the poet’s banquet, there will be a digital cocktail reception for faculty and registered attendees.
  • Special accommodations for the digital environment, such as closed-captioning, printable media, etc., can be arranged.

The 2020 LiTFUSE Faculty is now listed on the site and Registration is open.

two poetry fundraisers

June 23, 2020

Two poetry organizations that are vital to Cascadia and to the wider world are holding virtual fundraising events and hope you will participate.

Tonight, Tuesday, June 23, 2020, at 6:00pm Pacific, the Skagit River Poetry Foundation presents Poemed and Uplifted, featuring poets Tony Curtis, Daemond Arrindell, Octavia Prosser, Olivia Elias, and Lucy Shainin. NOTE: “Due to a regional internet upload outage, we were unable to stream our live event. Thank you for your patience and I hope you will tune in on Sunday, June 28th at 6 PM for a re-broadcast of this event.”

Next Tuesday, June 30, at 5:00pm Pacific, Copper Canyon Press presents For the Future of Poetry, featuring Ellen Bass, Arthur Sze, and Jericho Brown, along with Editor-in-Chief Michael Wiegers.

Your generosity, in any amount, will be gratefully accepted.

powerful young voices

June 22, 2020

The Seattle Youth Poet Laureate program aims to identify youth writers and leaders committed to poetry, performance, civic and community engagement, education, and equity across the Puget Sound region. Seattle Arts & Lectures has posted a video gallery celebrating the achievements of 2019/20 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate, Wei-Wei Lee, and the public release of her first poetry collection, In the Footsteps of a Thousand Griefs (Poetry NW Editions).

The gallery also honors the incoming 2020/21 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate cohort in a series of videos featuring 2020/21 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Bitaniya Giday; the 2020/21 Seattle Youth Poet Ambassadors Helena Goos, Nathalie M., Victor Xia; and the 2020/21 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Cohort members Sylvester Gross, Maeve Kenney, Violet Keteyian, Clarissa Perez, Lucia Santos, Connor Simon, and Hazel Windstorm.

Listen & learn.

Father’s Day

June 21, 2020


For Father’s Day,
here’s a link to
“A Proper Elegy for My Father”
by Gary Copeland Lilley.
The poem appeared in
Willow Springs 73.

More on elegy (and other terms) from Edward Hirsch’s A Poet’s Glossary.

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