Interstate C-19*

February 28, 2022

2021 Merit Award
by Phelps S. McIlvaine

empty shelves, empty isles
empty bins, empty smiles
empty lights, empty stars
empty lots, empty cars
empty buttons, empty panels
empty voices, empty channels
empty highways, empty tanks
empty maps, empty thanks
empty halls, empty stairs
empty windows, empty glare
empty coats, empty shoes
empty drawers, empty rooms
empty diner, empty plate
empty food, empty taste
empty sidewalk, empty doors
empty chairs, empty floors
empty ashtrays, empty cans
empty desktops, empty pads
empty stares, from empty parks
empty souls, in empty hearts
mind may be a cycle insane
empty, full, and empty again
empty aches ‘til full arrives
grateful smiles when empty dies.

*Copyright © 2021 by Phelps S. McIlvaine. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

on poetry

February 27, 2022

“Writers I like include, in earlier generations, William Carlos Williams and Wallace Stevens. There’s an American poet named John Wheelwright I like very much. Of course, I like Byron enormously; I’m crazy about Don Juan. And of course Keats and Shelley and I suppose everyone that everyone likes. I think my poetry was very influenced — it seems almost dumb to say it — but it was very influenced by Shakespeare. Very early on I read his plays…and, I don’t know, I started speaking in blank verse at a rather early age. [Laughing] But then, I’m a writer who likes to be influenced.”
Kenneth Koch
(February 27, 1925 – July 6, 2002)

. . . . .

last chance in Wallingford

February 25, 2022

Tomorrow, Saturday, February 26, 2022, will be your last chance for in-person shopping at the Wallingford location of Open Books. The store is open 10:00am to 2:00pm today and 10:00am to 6:00pm tomorrow.

After that, the store will offer curbside pickup in Wallingford during the first week of March, and resume pickups at the new Pioneer Square location toward the end of the month. The online store will remain open and the new store, at 108 Cherry Street, will open its doors in April.

Every book you buy now makes the move that much easier.

Driving Around*

February 24, 2022

2021 Merit Award
by Payton Ling, 12th grade

I am turning up One Direction
To drown out my cars loud noise
As my friends in the backseat argue
Over the next song, asking what’s the move?
My mind is focused on the road
I feel trapped in this tiny silver box
Going 50 in a 35
I am a map with no destination
We stop to climb trees and bridges
My friends bring me out to dance in the rain
In the middle of the road at midnight
They are beautiful
Back in the car we’re speeding down an empty road,
Midnight Memories blasting out of the speakers
We scream the lyrics till we can’t breathe.

*Copyright © 2021 by Payton Ling. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

poetry outdoors

February 23, 2022

Oregon’s Percent for Art in Public Places Program, administered by the Oregon Arts Commission, was one of the first of such programs in the United States. It has placed more than 2,400 works of art in public spaces throughout the state since 1975.

The program’s placements include 28 artworks in the permanent collection of the Vanport Building at Portland State University. A recent addition at Vanport is we breathe & breathing is (an) a|synchronous music, every body needs the air, a 25-foot-long poetry installation by Dao Strom, with Vietnamese translation by Vi Khi Nao. Follow the link for additional photos and a video reading of the poem.

(As a side note, The Vanport Building, which opened for use in January 2021, is named after the City of Vanport, which was destroyed during the 1948 Memorial Day Flood.)

what poets are reading

February 22, 2022

Among its many activities and features, the Poetry Society of America asks poets to talk about five books that have made a big impression on them recently. Their comments are published online in The Poet’s Nightstand.

Some Assembly Required*

February 20, 2022

2021 Merit Award
by David M. Laws

I know all the better alleys in town, Dad would say,
Driving his two boys behind stores, scavenging cedar
And pine boxes which had borne food, clothing, and all
Fifties goods. Store clerks cast the crates in alleys.

When Dad’s Ford wagon was full, we’d head to our alley,
Dump the catch over the fence and head back for more.
Then we’d deconstruct, unbending nails into jelly jars,
Sorting wood by size and type, stacking it in the shed.

We built a million dreams with our wood, our nails.
Adults saw rustily fastened heaps of inferior firewood
Festering in our yard. But younger eyes saw tanks,
Pirate ships, submarines, racecars, rockets and robots:
Juvenile fantasies fulfilled in well-worn wood.

*Copyright © 2021 by David M. Laws. Broadside illustrated by Christian Anne Smith.

Poet’s bio:
David M. Laws is a 72-year-old musical instrument repair technician, who attained international standing as a repair clinician and teacher. He is a partner in a local music store, but most of his time is spent playing keyboards, violin, saxophone, and singing. He was in four musical groups prior to COVID: a 22-piece big band, a ten-piece jazz combo, a New Orleans-style Second Line band, and a jam group.

“Some Assembly Required” details a happy memory of childhood: “My father, a workaholic, did not spend much time with his two sons, so that annual Saturday wood mission was a big deal for us. We got to have the whole day with him, riding around in the station wagon, seeking out boxes, and learning tool use, and we ended up with raw materials for our creative visions.”

O, pen, be heard

February 19, 2022

If you’re interested in getting your work in front of a Cascadia audience, there are plenty of journals currently accepting submissions. While the past two years have disrupted many publications, it’s heartening to see how many are still in business.

This list includes only those that have current deadlines or read submissions year-round (deadlines are listed only if they appear on the journal’s website or submission manager). It does not include contests and, except as noted, is focused primarily on poetry submissions.

Before you submit, read the journal to see if your work is a good fit, read (and follow) the guidelines very carefully, and read your work to make sure it’s ready for prime time.

See the NW lit scene sidebar at right for a more complete list of current and archived journals, etc., in the Cascadia region.

. . . . .

on poetry

February 18, 2022

“I always said I’m a teacher who writes or an editor who writes. But I never said the real thing until after I’d written a third book. It’s the sort of thing that women frequently do. They sort of need permission to tell themselves that this is the work they do.”
Toni Morrison
(February 18, 1931 – August 5, 2019)

. . . . .
quote from the documentary film “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am”

Calling all Whatcom County poets: the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest will be open for submissions March 1 through March 31, 2022. Now in year 17, the annual contest is open to poets of all ages and all levels of writing experience. Visit the 2022 Contest page for details, learn more about this year’s judges, or just click to view/download a PDF of the 2022 guidelines. As always, submissions are free.

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