Head in the Game*

March 19, 2023

2022 Merit Award
By Kyle Heaton

A cool breeze blows across the rocky concrete.
My heart races,
sweat beading down in my eyes.
The sun’s rays like lasers on my skin.
My foot jab steps,
faking out the lifeless defender in front of me.
I dribble once, twice, three times,
downhill towards the Coca-Cola hoop.
I cross over between my legs,
take a step back,
release the ball from my hands.
Swish, my team wins.
I celebrate with my dog,
the only person watching.
I chase down the ball and play again.
Not stopping until dinner,
or the hoop is darkened by night.
What else is better?

*Copyright © 2022 by Kyle Heaton. Broadside illustrated by Megan Carroll.

Poet’s bio:
Kyle Heaton attends Squalicum High School.

NOTE: a chapbook of the 2022 Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest winning poems, including this one, is available at Village Books in Bellingham. All sales profits benefit the annual contest.

Olympia High School senior Matthew Valentine has recited his way to 2023 Poetry Out Loud champion for Washington State. Matthew will go on to compete in the National Finals, May 8-10, 2023, in Washington, D.C. Congratulations, Matthew!

We should also note that the Oregon Poetry Out Loud champion is Kari Morgan, a junior at Oregon School for the Deaf. Congratulations, Kari!

on poetry

March 16, 2023

“The arts (painting, poetry, etc.) are not just these. Eating, drinking, walking are also arts; every act is an art.”
César Vallejo
(March 16, 1892 – April 15, 1938)

. . . . .

books books books!

March 14, 2023

If you didn’t attend AWP and bring home a huge stack of books (or even if you did!), here’s a new assortment of poetry-book recommendations:

Want a rolling start on your next piece of writing? Consider spending a day on the train. Back for the first time since February 2020, Rhythm on the Rails is an immersive, intimate, and inspirational one-day writing retreat on the train, facilitated by writer (etc.!) Johnnie Mazzocco. This year’s ride, from Portland, Oregon, to Seattle, Washington, and back, will roll on Saturday, April 1, 2023. Enrollment is VERY limited and today, Monday, March 13, is the last day for early-bird pricing. So if you’re interested, visit the ROTR website, read all about it, and sign up!

Good Neighbors*

March 12, 2023

2022 Merit Award
By Linda Conroy

Where the creek trickles to meet the bay,
the tide creeps in, and the muddy sand
and soil mix and flood, a heron views
the scene, balancing on one long leg.
Two red-beaked oystercatchers poking
plankton, wade with common goldeneyes
at water’s edge. A flock of buffleheads
floats slowly past, with coots of course,
and gulls fly overhead. So many seabirds,
every species different from the rest, yet
they’re here together, bustling, busy
colonizing this small stretch of coast,
content together, reveling in quiet lives
finding no necessity to quack or flap.

*Copyright © 2022 by Linda Conroy. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Poet’s bio: Linda Conroy is the self-published author of a poetry collection, Ordinary Signs, and plans to complete another volume shortly. After a long career as a social worker, she now enjoys walking, playing various instruments and singing, as well as creating poems and supporting her friends’ writing endeavors. This poem, “Good Neighbors,” was inspired by watching ducks at the lagoon where Padden Creek enters Bellingham Bay, on a day when so much of the world news was about folk being less than friendly.

This is a guest post by
Holly J. Hughes

As I write, the rain chants her ancient litany on the skylight. While I’m weary of putting on raingear to walk each day, I’m grateful for lengthening days that bring light to what’s been a dark winter here in the Northwest. For many days now, I’ve turned off the news and turned to the task in front of me: readying for publication I Sing the Salmon Home, a collection of poems about salmon edited by Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest, our third project as co-publishers of Empty Bowl Press, the mantle my husband, John Pierce, and I assumed last August.

This project felt right from the start: from my delight in working with Rena, a poet I’ve long admired for her passion, honesty, and sense of humor, to my own decades-long personal connection to salmon, to my growing sense of urgency that we need to act now to have a shot at saving Washington state salmon runs from extinction. Each time I switched off the news, I felt heartened to be working on a project that might make a difference here in our local watershed.

To write my introduction, I reread the speech Ursula Le Guin gave when she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the National Book Awards in 2014: “We live in capitalism, its power seems unescapable. So did the divine right of kings. Any human power can be resisted and changed by human beings. Resistance and change often begin in art.”

In that spirit, Rena cast a wide net. From the more than five hundred poems that were submitted, she selected poems that together speak to the power of our collective relationship with salmon. As we read them, we were deeply moved by the diverse voices: poems expressing admiration for salmon’s indomitable spirit; poems bearing fierce witness; elegies for salmon runs lost; humorous haiku; an address to the Columbia River dam; erasure poems that form lyrics from the language of science. All these poets affirm the power of art to re-imagine and to resist: what writers have been doing for centuries. When the daily news is overwhelming, we need poetry to remind us what matters, to give voice to those who’ve been silenced and those, like the salmon, who can’t speak, yet who, as our Northwest kin, have been stitching the sea and sky together for centuries and who have been — and continue to be — honored and stewarded by local tribes on the Salish Sea since time immemorial.

As we read through the manuscript one last time, we considered how we could amplify these powerful voices. We decided to donate copies to Save Our wild Salmon, a local nonprofit whose mission is “committed to protecting and restoring abundant, self-sustaining fishable populations of salmon and steelhead to the Columbia-Snake River Basin for the benefit of people and ecosystems.” A coalition of northwest and national conservation organizations, as well as local tribes, Save Our wild Salmon has many projects, including breaching the dams on the lower Snake River. According to executive director Joseph Bogard, these copies will be shared with policymakers whose decisions could help determine the future of those salmon runs.

Meanwhile, today, March 9 is Billy Frank, Jr. Day. It seems fitting to end with the words of Nisqually tribal member Billy Frank, Jr., former chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission, who devoted his life to fighting for salmon and for treaty rights for his people, and whose words we included as an epigraph: “I don’t believe in magic. I believe in the sun and the stars, the water, the tides, the floods, the owls, the hawks flying, the river running, the wind talking. They’re measurements. They tell us how healthy things are. How healthy we are. Because we and they are the same. That’s what I believe in. Those who learn to listen to the world that sustains them can hear the message brought forth by salmon.”

We hope you’ll help us celebrate in April when the collection is released! We have two readings set up: on Saturday, April 8, 2023, at 2:00pm, a Book Launch/Celebration will be held at the Seattle Public Library in downtown Seattle. Another reading is planned for Monday, April 10, at 4:00pm in the State Reception Room at the Capitol Building in Olympia. As they are planned, we’ll be posting other regional readings on the Empty Bowl website at emptybowl.org, so be sure to check back.

Ed. note: While it is not a part of the official rollout of I Sing the Salmon Home, Holly Hughes will host an AWP off-site reading on Saturday, March 11, at 5:00pm at Casey Commons in the Casey Building at Seattle University. Featured readers are Empty Bowl authors Kate Reavey, Ann Spiers, Rebekah Anderson, and Rena Priest.

. . . . .

In addition to serving as co-publisher of Empty Bowl Press, Holly J. Hughes edited Keep a Green Bough: Voices from the Heart of Cascadia, and is the author of Hold Fast and Sailing by Ravens, coauthor of The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, and editor of Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease. Her fine-art chapbook Passings received an American Book Award in 2017. She lives on the Olympic Peninsula, where she leads writing and mindfulness workshops, consults as a writing coach, and directs Flying Squirrel Studio, a writing retreat for women on the aboriginal territory of the Suquamish (suq̀ʷabš), who continue to live on and protect the land and waters of their ancestors for future generations. You can find out more at her website: hollyjhughes.com

Myrna Keliher of Expedition Press stands in front of 40-foot-long mural of Lucille Clifton quotation

From time to time, we highlight the work of Kingston, Washington, based Expedition Press, which creates beautiful letterpress renditions of poetry. While most of Myrna Keliher’s work is on the scale of cards, books, and broadsides, she sometimes ventures into larger prints.

In fact, Publishers Weekly last week featured some of Expedition’s really-big work in “Expedition Press Delivers Poetry on a Grand Scale.” Expedition’s 40-foot-long plywood mural shares Lucille Clifton’s words, “i continue to continue.”

The huge piece was exhibited at the American Booksellers Association Winter Institute in February and will be on display this week at the AWP Conference. Attendees can also find Expedition Press at booth 1341 at the AWP Bookfair.

on poetry

March 7, 2023

Words matter, for
Language is an ark.
Language is an art,
An articulate artifact.
Language is a life craft.
Language is a life raft.
Amanda Gorman
(b. March 7, 1998)

. . . . .
photo by Abbie Trayler-Smith
Quote excerpted from “What We Carry” in Call Us What We Carry: Poems

AWP off-site, March 9

March 6, 2023

Here are a few of the AWP Seattle off-site events scheduled for Thursday, March 9, 2023:

Literary Rule Breakers: AWP 2023 offsite event – 1:00-2:00pm – at Seattle Coffee Works
To some artists, rules are actually challenges! At this event seven published writers will briefly explain what “rule” they are breaking and read a piece that in some way breaks a rule. Maybe in form or style, or simply through a character that doesn’t play by the rules. Come listen, drink tasty coffee, and chat with writers! Featuring: Jennifer Moore, Matt Bell, Katie Berta, Kelly Kathleen Ferguson, Josh Davis, Alyse Bensel, and Jennifer Pullen.

RHINO Poetry & Hypertext Review – 3:00-5:00pm – at Caffe Ladro
RHINO Poetry & Hypertext Review join forces at AWP next week. Stop by the table for free stuff and come to the reading on Thursday, 3/9 from 3-5 pm at Caffe Ladro: 801 Pine Street in Seattle! Free coffee, tea, and snacks.

A Dozen Nothing AWP Offsite Poetry Reading – 4:30pm – at Chop Suey
To celebrate seven years of bringing you some of the best poetry on the web, A Dozen Nothing presents the ultimate AWP offsite, featuring twenty-two fantastic poets from around the country at the legendary Capitol Hill music club, Chop Suey. Doors open at 4:30, so come early, buy a drink, and relax before the reading begins at 5:00 pm. 21 and over, no cover. Readers: Colleen Louise Barry, Mary Biddinger, Bill Carty, Jason Crawford, Nicelle Davis, Gabriel Dozal, Knox Gardner, Elizabyth Hiscox, Charles Jensen, Robert Lashley, Denis Mair, John Marshall, Trey Moody, Sierra Nelson, Shawnte Orion, Sarah Pape, Rena Priest, Todd Robinson, Lily Someson, Arianne True, Elizabeth Vignali, and Jason Whitmarsh. Check out their work at http://www.ADozenNothing.com! Questions? Please email us at adozennothing@gmaildotcom

Water~Stone Review AWP Offsite Reading – 5:00pm – at The Tasting Room
Featured readers include contributing poetry editor Ed Bok Lee, and contributors Sin Yong-Mok, Kathryn Savage, Jake Levine, Jose Hernandez Diaz, and Joseph Holt.
No registration required. Just show up, sip some delicious offerings from The Tasting Room, and enjoy listening to our featured readers!

The Greensboro Review at AWP ’23 – Offsite Reading – 5:30-6:45pm – at The Rendezvous Seattle
Join The Greensboro Review in Seattle at an offsite event on Thursday 3/9, 5:30 – 6:45 PM in the Grotto at the historic Rendezvous & Jewelbox Theater.
Recent and forthcoming journal contributors will read their poetry and fiction to celebrate the coming release of our 113th issue (as well as 58 years of continuous publication). Featured readers include: Rose McLarney, Bill Hollands, Phoebe Oathout, Mike Good, Dan Albergotti, Candace Walsh, Jim Whiteside, and Emma DePanise. We regret the downstairs Grotto space is not ADA accessible.

Come as You Are: a reading produced by Leah Umansky + Dena Rash Guzman – 6:00-9:00pm – at A/NT Gallery
WHO: Robert Lashley, Sarah Gilbert, Meg Day, Nathan McClain, Zeina Hashem Beck, Dena Rash Guzman + Leah Umansky
Prelude: Music by Mark Brunke (guitar)
WHAT: verses + chords + vino

AWP23 Offsite Reading: Veliz Books, BOA Editions, & Noemi Press – 6:00pm – at the Seattle Public Library
Join us for an in-person reading at the beautiful Seattle Public Library, 10th Floor Reading Room! Featuring readings by: Molly Bendall, Tina Cane, Sehba Sarwar, Anthony Sutton, Jeannine Hall Gailey, Sandra Simonds, Jessica Q. Stark, Nawall Nader-French, Angela Pañeredando, and Casey Rocheteau.

Jam Yesterday, Jam Tomorrow: A Trans-Genre Cabaret – 7:00-9:00pm – at Gallery 110
Features poets as early media film tellers (Benshis) performing new scripts to silent films, to now media poets spinning DJ jams around ChatGPT. Featured Poets: Katy Bohinc, De Kai, Henry Goldkamp, Greta Jane, Sean F. Munro, Roxi Power, Margaret Rhee, Mark Scroggins, Rodrigo Toscano, and Ronaldo V. Wilson.

AWP Offsite: Black SWANA Lit – 7:30pm – at Northwest Film Forum
Mizna launches the Black SWANA Takeover Issue with Safia Elhillo, Romaissaa Benzizoune, Samah Fadil, and Umniya Najaer. Join Mizna in Seattle for a night of Black SWANA literature and music. Coinciding with the national literary conference in Seattle, AWP 2023, Mizna presents an offsite event to launch the Black SWANA Takeover Issue. This reading will feature guest editor Safia Elhillo as well as Romaissaa Benzizoune, Samah Fadil, and Umniya Najaer. Ladin Awad will be MCing the reading and DJing a dance party to follow. This event takes place at the Northwest Film Forum on March 9, 2023, doors at 7:30pm, reading starts at 8pm. Space is limited. RSVP REQUIRED
COVID SAFETY: NWFF requires masks for all patrons while in the building; read more here: bit.ly/nwffcovidsafety
For AWP attendees, also be sure to catch Mizna’s panel at AWP and visit us and RAWI at Booth 939 in the AWP book fair.

AWP 2023: Situated Sublimities – 7:30pm – at Beneath the Streets
Join us for an evening of poetry, featuring readings of newly published work by Elizabeth Metzger, Meghan Maguire Dahn, John James, Austen Leah Rose, J. Mae Barizo, Patrick James Errington, Kelly Weber, and Julia Guez.
Venue: Beneath the Streets, 102 Cherry St, Seattle, WA

#AWP23 Lit Up Thursday – 8:00pm – at Elliott Bay Book Company
An AWP Literary Reading & Party Hosted by: The Adroit Journal, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, and Pleiades, featuring Sarah Ghazal Ali, Victoria Chang, Chen Chen, Chanda Feldman, Saúl Hernández, Faylita Hicks, Luther Hughes, K.Iver, Danny Lang-Perez, Dana Levin, Philip Metres, Chloe Garcia Roberts, Lee Ann Roripaugh, Vanessa Angelica Villarreal, Erika T. Wurth, with DJ Gold Chisme. After Party to follow next door @Oddfellows. First 100 attendees will receive a free drink ticket for the After Party.

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