long list

September 20, 2022

The National Book Foundation has announced the long lists for the 2022 National Book Awards. The ten poets and titles in poetry are:

  • Rio Cortez, Golden Ax (Penguin Random House)
  • Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Look at This Blue (Coffee House Press)
  • Jay Hopler, Still Life (McSweeney’s)
  • John Keene, Punks: New & Selected Poems (Song Cave)
  • Sharon Olds, Balladz (Penguin Random House / Knopf)
  • Roger Reeves, Best Barbarian (WW Norton)
  • Sherry Shenoda, Mummy Eaters (University of Nebraska Press)
  • Quincy Troupe, Duende (Seven Stories Press)
  • Shelley Wong, As She Appears (YesYes Books)
  • Jenny Xie, The Rupture Tense (Graywolf Press)

The finalists will be announced on October 4, and the winners will be announced at the 73rd National Book Awards Ceremony and Benefit Dinner on November 16, 2022.

If these books aren’t already on your list, add them now!

This is a guest post by Maria McLeod.

One way to break through the parameters our personal identities impose upon us is through writing persona poetry. Of course, when a poet invokes the “I,” the vast majority of poetry readers assume the “I” is the author, a prepackaged identity. On one hand, the illusion of autobiography might make readers more interested in sticking with the poem — voyeurism piquing curiosity — but on the other hand (the one I write with), I’d rather be recognized for my skills as a writer than to be confused with the characters I create. Wouldn’t you?

Aligning the “I” with the author took root during a poetic movement that came to be known as confessionalism, which marked a shift in what was deemed acceptable in poetry, to take on subjects that seemed personal, intimate, and tied to the events of the poet’s life. But this impulse to examine a narrative for what it revealed of the writer’s autobiography (or, by extension, their psychological state) did not give equal recognition to the art of generating poetic personas. Because, of course, once we put pen to page and invoke the I, we are creating and composing a version of a self. The truth of the “I” of the poem becomes a slippery fish.

This matter of identity leads me to recall a former creative writing instructor’s refrain: content dictates form. Similarly, the identities we construct, and the voices from which we speak, are necessitated by the stories we choose to tell. “I” might wear a mini skirt or hip waders, carry a hatchet or rest a baby on my right hip. Or, like Mary Poppins, I might open my umbrella, leap from a rooftop, and fly through the night sky. In poetry, anyone is made possible.

. . . . .

Maria adds: “The persona poet I admire so much is Ai, whom I had the good fortune to dine with one evening when she came to visit Pittsburgh. Here is a link to more than a few of her poems posted by the Poetry Foundation.”

Read one of Maria McLeod’s persona poems, “Ghosts of Those,” in The Penn Review.

. . . . .

Maria McLeod is the author of two poetry chapbooks, Mother Want, winner of WaterSedge Chapbook Contest, judged by Kim Stafford, and Skin. Hair. Bones., published by Finishing Line Press. She’s also won the Indiana Review Poetry Prize, judged by Denise Duhamel, and the Robert J. DeMott Short Prose Prize, judged by Thisbe Nissen. Listen to Maria’s writing discussed by the editors of Painted Bride Quarterly on their Slush Pile Podcast, Episode 103, and hear McLeod read and discuss her work on Sound Poetry, Radio Tacoma, interviewed by David Gilmour. In addition to writing creatively, McLeod serves as a professor of journalism for Western Washington University.

. . . . .
Maria McLeod photo by Stephen S. Howie
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Banned Books Week

September 18, 2022

This week, September 18-24, 2022, is Banned Books Week, an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and highlighting the value of free and open access to information.

Earlier this year, in support of the work of PEN America, Sotheby’s auctioned a specially created fireproof edition of Margaret Atwood’s bestseller and often banned book The Handmaid’s Tale. The book sold through an online auction for $130,000 and a short video captures Atwood torching her book.

More on author/poet/activist Margaret Atwood. Most-challenged book lists from the American Library Association. Poetry’s Place in the History of Banned Books from the Academy of American Poets. A long list of resources for Banned Books Week.

today in Thorp

September 17, 2022

If you happen to be in (or headed to) Central Washington today, Saturday, September 17, 2022, meander on over to the bustling metropolis of Thorp for WORD CIRCUS. Presented on the PUNCH Projects Barnstorm Stage by Inland Poetry and the Headlight-Children, Word Circus features poetry, parody, puppets, limericks, whirling hoops, open mic, book fair, and more, plus Ellensburg Poet Laureate Marie Marchand and Ellensburg Arts Treasure Jampa Dorje along with acclaimed poets from Central Washington. Also not to be missed: The Barlow’s Free Museum of Oddities & Curiosities in the gallery! Bring a picnic, a folding chair, your hat. Doors open at NOON.

This Sunday in Bellingham!

September 16, 2022

This Sunday, September 18, 2022, make your way to the Mount Baker Theatre in Bellingham for a long-awaited in-person celebration of poetry: SpeakEasy 29: Waymaking. Inspired by the work of Olympia poet Bill Yake, Sunday’s event will feature Bill Yake, Empty Bowl Press, and a stellar group of poets responding to Yake’s poem “Waymaking By Moonlight.” Doors open at 3:30pm, the reading begins at 4:00pm, and it’s entirely free. Masks and proof of vaccination are required.

Humble Beginnings

September 14, 2022

Town Hall Seattle invites you to “the first chapter of something big: an annual Writers Festival that pays tribute to everything we love about the written word.”

Volume I: Humble Beginnings happens Friday and Saturday, September 16 and 17, 2022, at Town Hall’s historic building, 1119 8th Avenue. There will be readings, books for sale, book signings, a community area featuring local literary organizations, plus food, and lots more. Seattle’s Civic Poet Jourdan Imani Keith will offer the opening invocation on Friday evening. Tickets are available for both in-person and virtual attendance.

poetry in person!

September 13, 2022

Another sign of hope for poetry in Cascadia: after two-and-a-half years, Soul Food Poetry Night returns to in-person programming this Thursday, September 15, 2022. Same place — SoulFood CoffeeHouse in Redmond, Washington — with a new start time — 6:00pm.

The evening’s featured poets will be Katerina Canyon and Kibibi Monié and, as always, there will be an open mic. Here’s a link to the Facebook event.

Join host Michael Dylan Welch and the SoulFood audience in welcoming these two dynamic poets for live, in-person poetry at last.

on poetry

September 12, 2022

“The Atlantic turned down 2 of my best poems — upset for I had wanted them to be so good that even people who didn’t like poetry would feel that this was real, was good. I must write desperately, now or never, putting my finest, my most secret self into them. I must build a monument against time. And all this must be done with no thought, no hope, of fame, of publication, but in the hope that something out of it, say 3 poems out of a hundred, will be worth something, will deserve to endure, will prove that my life was not useless.”
Marya Zaturenska
(September 12, 1902 – January 19, 1982)

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prize time

September 10, 2022

The Poetry Foundation has just announced the winners of the 2022 Pegasus Awards, a family of literary prizes that include the Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize, the Young People’s Poet Laureate, and the Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism.

In recognition of Poetry magazine’s 110th anniversary, the Poetry Foundation has decided to award 10 additional Ruth Lilly Poetry Prizes this year, resulting in $1,132,500 in prizes distributed to the 2022 winners. It is the greatest prize amount that the Foundation has ever awarded to a cohort of living poets at one time. The 11 Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winners are: Sandra Cisneros, CAConrad, Rita Dove, Nikki Giovanni, Juan Felipe Herrera, Angela Jackson, Haki Madhubuti, Sharon Olds, Sonia Sanchez, Patti Smith, and Arthur Sze.

The Poetry Foundation has also chosen Elizabeth Acevedo, the bestselling author of The Poet X, to serve as the 2022–2024 Young People’s Poet Laureate, and awarded The Pegasus Award for Poetry Criticism to Kevin Quashie for his book Black Aliveness, or A Poetics of Being, which draws on Black feminist literary texts, including work by poets Lucille Clifton, Audre Lorde, and June Jordan.

SpeakEasy returns!

September 9, 2022

The Bellingham-based poetry series returns to in-person programming for the first time since 2019 with SpeakEasy 29: Waymaking.

This audience-friendly afternoon of poetry will feature Bill Yake, Empty Bowl Press, and a curated program of fine poets. The free, public event will be held at the Mount Baker Theatre Encore Room on Sunday, September 18, 2022, at 4:00pm. Masks and proof of vaccination are required.

Poet, naturalist, photographer, traveler, and occasional essayist Bill Yake has been published widely in books, magazines, and anthologies. His book Waymaking by Moonlight (Empty Bowl Press) and the title poem were inspiration for this SpeakEasy.

In addition to Bill Yake, Empty Bowl Press will be represented by newly announced co-owner Holly J. Hughes along with Marie Eaton, Kathryn P. Humes, and Lois Holub.

Reading their own poems in response to Bill Yake’s poem “Waymaking by Moonlight” will be Barbara Bloom, Nancy Canyon, Linda Conroy, Rick Hermann, David M. Laws, Charles Luckmann, Jerry Dale McDonnell, Victor Ortiz, Dayna Patterson, Raúl Sánchez, Leslie Wharton, and Richard Widerkehr.

SpeakEasy is an occasional poetry series that emphasizes themed, audience-friendly presentations of quality poetry by Cascadia-region writers. It is produced in Bellingham, Washington, by Luther Allen, author of The View from Lummi Island, and Judy Kleinberg. Please join us!

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