Underwater*

February 28, 2021


2020 Walk Award
By Qwill Madrone, Grade 6

Alone.
The middle of the ocean.
Wide and scary.
The calm blue surrounds me.
My iridescent tail flashes and circles underwater.
I have nothing to worry about.
I dive under
The silence presses in on me.
I fill my lungs with the salty water of the sea.
Breath in, breath out.
The water evaporates in me
Leaving me with air.
A school of fish dart around me
Little silver bullets.
I use my tail to propel myself
Forward into the water.
I hold my hand out
The silky water flowing around my arm.
A bale of turtles glide under me
Their fins send water towards me
A small underwater current.
The ocean is alive.
And deep.
And blue.

*Copyright 2020 by Qwill Madrone. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

on poetry

February 27, 2021

“The history of human experience is in many ways a history of dysfunction and conflict, and literature, because it is an accurate record of that history, reflects not only what is peaceful but what is the universal hope and struggle for peace. Literature and peace are at last indivisible. They form an equation that is the definition of art and humanity.”
N. Scott Momaday
(b. February 27, 1934)

Among his many awards, N. Scott Momaday is the 2021 recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime achievement in poetry.

. . . . .
quote & photo

watch some poetry

February 26, 2021

Take a break and watch some poetry. Tasty and bite-size, these short, animated films offer a visual perspective on poems and poetry.

On a related note, if you happen to be a young (25 or under) poet or filmmaker, Poetry Screen currently has an open call for short films that combine poetry and visuals. The deadline is June 1, 2021.

Dispatches from Solitude

February 25, 2021

Elliott Bay Book Company presents Conjunctions: 75 Dispatches from Solitude, an evening of readings featuring Conjunctions editor, Bradford Morrow, along with Barbara Tran, Nathaniel Mackey, Sandra Cisneros and Henry Cisneros, and Brandon Hobson. The reading will happen tomorrow, Friday, February 26, 2021, at 5:00pm Pacific. Register here and find out more about Conjunctions here.

on poetry

February 24, 2021

“I always had a few people who liked what I did, and that was enough.”
Etel Adnan
(b. February 24, 1925)

more

SpeakEasy 27… Round 5

February 23, 2021

Please join Dayna Patterson, Jennifer Bullis, Bruce Beasley, Luther Allen, and Susan Alexander as they present the final round of linked poems for SpeakEasy 27: A Spiritual Thread on Saturday, February 27, 2021, 7:00pm Pacific.

The poets’ bios and video links to Rounds 1 through 4 are available on the SpeakEasy 27 page.

The Zoom reading is free. You may request the link by sending a note to othermindpress [AT] gmail.com.

NOTE DATE CHANGE!!: A final, audience-response round will be held Sunday, March 28, 2021, at 7:00pm Pacific. Poems must be directly linked to a readily identifiable phrase, line, or theme from a poem or poems presented in one of the first five rounds.
To have your poem considered for inclusion, send no more than two original poems to othermindpress [AT] gmail.com as a Word or PDF attachment and clearly explain the linkage for each poem. Approximately 20 poets will be selected to read their poems and explain the connection to the earlier poem(s) during the hour-long March 27 program, which will be video recorded. Submitting a poem acknowledges that it is your original work, that you have Zoom audio and video capabilities, and that you will be available to read on March 27 if selected. The deadline for submissions is Saturday, March 13, with selections and notifications by March 21.

Freedom to Read Week

February 22, 2021

It’s Freedom to Read Week in Canada, which, like Banned Books Week (September 26 – October 2, 2021) in the U.S., raises awareness about intellectual freedom and threats to free speech. Visit the Freedom to Read website to find out more about the freedom to read on the north side of the border, including Censorship at the Canadian border, 1985-2020 and Bannings and Burnings in History. What are you reading?

Leftover*

February 21, 2021


2020 Merit Award
By Alexandra M. Lucas

Left over
Fruit left off the vine too long without being eaten
Left instead to decay
In the back of a crate
In some cheery farmer’s market
With no air conditioning

Almost all sold
We did well
Good enough!

Now I must do the proper thing —
Collapse into myself
On the bruises and patches of skin
That have lost their softness

Fade from view
So the ones approaching ripeness
Won’t be afraid

A cautionary tale

Look away, now
Look away

*Copyright 2020 by Alexandra M. Lucas. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

For Whose Eyes and Ears

February 20, 2021

This is a guest post
by Jed Myers

In the lore of therapy, it’s said a person’s emotional state will improve with keeping a journal. The benefit holds even if the journal entries are never shared with another soul. Does that mean we need only ever spell things out for ourselves alone? Or does it mean that the act of writing is so fundamentally relational, no actual other is needed for the experience of being heard and understood by another?

Words have evolved for the conveyance of one being’s experience to another. So even when we speak in our imaginations, talk to ourselves, or write our private entries, we are invoking the presence of another, however invisible.

I do wonder, for whose eyes do we place the words of our reflections on the page? In whose ears do we hope our written words will ring? And whose are the minds and hearts we want to stir with what we’ve written?

I’m sure there’s no simple or single answer to any such questions. But I’m also sure — from tuning in to my own process of writing, if by nothing else — that there is an envisioned other, or a collection of others, that we’ve got a representation of in the wings of the act of writing, to whom, in the writing, we’re speaking.

Maybe this goes against a kind of purist’s notion of writing only for oneself. I don’t know. It could be that an implicit other just like oneself, a mirror twin, so to speak, is such a purist’s other. The writing that would emerge in that spirit might be more idiosyncratic, harder for the rest of us to “get,” but it might be in its own way just right — the words chosen and arranged for the dear twin who will understand perfectly.

Then there’s the writing for a different other, or for a gathering (in the mind’s amphitheater) of others of varied sensibilities. Perhaps these are the presences some of us want to touch with our words. These imagined others might stand in for real expectable readers in the world. We can’t be sure how they’ll hear us, as we don’t know just how they think and feel. How will our poems ring with them?

That question’s at my shoulder while I work out my lines. It can serve to press me, word by word, closer to the marrow, where I’ll find more intuitive sureness of common feeling, even across cultures and times.

I like to invite one odd other to the gathering and to be sure that figure’s listening — a guest from some time in the future, when my life’s been over long enough that those who’ve remembered me are gone. I reach for what might make that other grateful to have stumbled onto my words. I’ll write what I need to say — as if in my journal — that will also close the rift of space and time, so that my guest might feel that a hundred years ago is more or less last week. That’s what I feel sometimes reading Sappho or Du Fu — the intimacy of distant solitudes.

. . . . .

Jed Myers lives in Seattle, where, aside from writing, he’s a psychiatrist with a therapy practice and a Clinical Professor in Psychiatry at the University of Washington. He’s author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press), and four chapbooks, including Dark’s Channels (Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Award) and Love’s Test (winner, Grayson Books Chapbook Contest). Recognitions include Southern Indiana Review’s Editors’ Award, the Prime Number Magazine Award, The Southeast Review’s Gearhart Prize, and The Tishman Review’s Edna St. Vincent Millay Prize. Poems have appeared in Prairie Schooner, Rattle, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, Southern Poetry Review, The Greensboro Review, multiple anthologies, including Two-Countries: US Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents (Red Hen Press) and Take a Stand: Art Against Hate (Raven Chronicles Press), and many other publications. Poems are forthcoming in New York Quarterly, Tupelo Quarterly, Cutthroat, Sequestrum, and Galleywinter Poetry Series. Two essays on poetry and medicine have appeared in JAMA. Jed is Poetry Editor for the journal Bracken.

Jed Myers will co-feature with Charles Rafferty in the Poets in Conversation reading series on Saturday, May 22, 2021, 4:00pm Pacific. Details and access information will be posted on this site and on The Poetry Department Calendar page.

Author photo by Alina Rios
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Mini Lit Fair – tomorrow!

February 19, 2021

The annual print journal Moss has rounded up literary organizations from across Cascadia to present a marathon of poetry, storytelling, and lyrical cinema, tomorrow, Saturday, February 20, 2021. Featured readers include (among many others) Jess Walter, Shelley Wong, Kayla Kumari Upadhyaya, the Cadence: Video Poetry Festival, plus a panel discussion between publication editors and curators.

It’s all free. See the complete details here and register here.

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