We’ve mentioned the Western Washington University Children’s Literature Conference before. Now in its 18th year and typically attracting more than 600 participants, the Conference has assumed a new shape for 2021 to contend with travel and gathering restrictions.

It begins with a free, month-long virtual exhibit of work by the writers and illustrators of children’s literature. With a theme of Art as Protest / Art in the Time of COVID, the collection is varied and rich, offering a look into the creative range of the 20-plus exhibitors. It will remain on view through Sunday, February 28, 2021.

The exhibit also invites written and visual responses from the community. These will be displayed online. To submit work (or a link to existing work), complete the Community Exhibit Submission form.

On Saturday, February 27, the CLC will offer morning and afternoon conversations around themes and ideas that emerge from the Virtual Exhibit. There will be no formal presentations. Everyone is welcome; registration is free but required.

Dress Poetry

June 6, 2020

Back in early February, when it seemed like a gallery exhibit was entirely feasible, we posted a call for poems about dresses. In the intervening months, somehow, many dresses have emerged from their layers of tissue paper, shaken out their wrinkles, and offered themselves as poetry touch points.

Though the Allied Arts gallery in downtown Bellingham is not open for business-as-usual, there are dresses and poems in the window through June 27, 2020, and you can also read the poems and see photos of the dresses (and some of the poets and their muses) on the Allied Arts gallery page.

Special thanks to curator/poet Leslie Wharton.

If you’ve always wanted to attend the Chuckanut Writers Conference but just couldn’t swing it geographically, here comes your opportunity! CWC 2020 will be held online, Monday, June 22, 2020, through Thursday, June 25, with a faculty reading on the 26th and master classes on the 27th. See the complete schedule, faculty profiles, and registration information at CWC 2020.


February 27, 2020

In case you missed it, The Common has published “Poetry-Making as Empathy Play: An Interview with Oliver de la Paz,” in which the poet reflects on his most recent book, The Boy in the Labyrinth (University of Akron Press, 2019).

Previously a Bellingham resident, Oliver de la Paz teaches at the College of the Holy Cross and in the Low-Residency MFA Program at Pacific Lutheran University. He will be participating in several events at next week’s AWP Conference in San Antonio.

P.S.: Today, February 27, is his birthday and we wish him the best.

be an early bird

February 25, 2020

Chuckanut Writers Conference

The tenth annual Chuckanut Writers Conference will be held at Whatcom Community College (plus a few outlier events) on Friday and Saturday, June 26 and 27, 2020. The 2020 conference faculty is now posted online, master classes (June 25) are listed, and registration is open, with early-bird rates through May 25.

new at Village Books

February 11, 2020

You may be aware that Village Books in Bellingham hosts an open mic at 7:00pm on the last Monday of the month. Starting on Monday, February 24, 2020, Village Books will augment the open mic program with a Spanish-language open mic starting at 6:00pm. Writers are welcome to share Spanish-language fiction, essays, and poetry. Sign up at the main counter on the first floor or call (360) 671-2626.

call to poets

February 5, 2020

Poet and curator Leslie Wharton invites poets to submit work for “Dress Poetry,” a juried show to be held in the Allied Arts Gallery in June 2020.

“Dresses and poetry hold memory and can express to the world who we are. In celebration of changing norms on wearing dresses, and the 100th anniversary of suffragettes winning the right to vote, pull those pretty, powerful, dresses and poems out of the closet and join us for this exciting show.

Please pass this call along to poets, dressmakers, and artists, especially to anyone who may display a pow-wow dress, a transgender first or last dress ever worn, or any poem that moves a reader into learning about diverse experiences. We are eager to help duplicate this show in other towns if a local is willing to take the lead and find a gallery.”

Deadline for submission: Saturday, April 4, 2020
Exhibit dates: June 5 – 27, 2020
Complete guidelines here.

new, for now

January 28, 2020

In case you were distracted by the snow and missed the announcement, Bellingham’s Alternative Library has a new, if temporary, home.

The Alternative Library offers a curated public book collection and is host to a wide array of events, including concerts, film screenings, workshops, and readings.

As they continue to search for a permanent location and raise funds to support the move and ongoing activities, the Alternative Library can be found at 1309 Billy Frank Jr Street, west of Ellis, just north of Holly at the edge of Downtown Bellingham.

Your favorite ongoing events, such as poetrynight, may have relocated along with the alt.lib, so double-check venues before you go.

Remembering Jim

January 18, 2020

Friends of the “Bard of Bellingham” will gather to celebrate Jim Milstead’s life on Saturday, January 25, 2020, 5:30pm, at the SPARK Museum in Bellingham. Readings of Jim’s poetry and anecdotal recollections are welcome. Join us.

Poem Booth time again!

January 7, 2020

The Bellingham Poem Booth once again invites submissions from Whatcom County, Washington, residents. The winning poem is displayed for three months on the Forest Street side of the downtown Bellingham Co-op. Winning and runner-up poems are posted on the Poem Booth blog. The deadline is midnight, Saturday, February 15, 2020 and the guidelines are here.

The Poem Booth, which has been ably guided by a handful of volunteers since its inception, now has a new team: John S. Green, Rachel Mehl, Rena Preist, Sheila Sondik, and Elizabeth Vignali.

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