This is a guest post by Sheila Sondik

Do you have stacks of unread poetry books? If you’re reading this blog, I’d guess that you do. The poet Nicole Sealey pledged to read a book of poems every day in August 2017 and has inspired other poetry lovers to do the same every August since. I decided to give The Sealey Challenge a try this year.

I did it! I read 31 books in August! A half dozen or so were by friends, some were by very well-known poets (Ada Limón, Ilya Kaminsky), and the rest were mostly new to me. So many exciting discoveries from my own bookshelves! I was swept up in the glory of poetry.

The most delightful surprise was finding Short Journey Upriver Toward Ōishida, a book I don’t remember acquiring, a discard from the Penetanguishene Public Library in Ontario (in spite of its winning the 2004 Governor General’s Award for English-language Poetry). The whimsical Hiroshige print on the cover may have been what led them to misclassify it as a juvenile book. That print was what caught my eye, and the contents are filled with references to Bashō and his trip to the far north of Japan, as well as a Tanizaki short story. One section of this book is written in the haibun form, combining prose and haiku-like poetry. A multipage prose poem features a full-fruited persimmon tree, passed by chance on a drive. That reminded me of our persimmon tree in Berkeley, which gave our family so much joy. There are also many poems in Roo Borson’s book that were written walking along rivers on repeated visits to Australia. Before the pandemic, I visited Australia several times to see my grandchildren. The Sealey Challenge worked in its mysterious way to bring me to many books like this one that have special meaning for me.

There’s no bureaucracy overseeing The Sealey Challenge. Just gather your stash and read. I found it fun to join the Facebook group to get a glimpse of what others were reading. I posted a weekly photo of what I’d read. The only thing I might change next year is to read some longer collections, that may need more than one day to complete. After all, who’s counting?

. . . . .
Sheila Sondik’s Sealey Challenge list, alphabetically:

Hifsa Ashraf, her deep-rooted scars
Hifsa Ashraf, Wildflowers
Rick Barot, The Galleons
Allison Blevins, Letters to Joan
Roo Borson, Short Journey Upriver Toward Ōishida
Marianne Boruch, Bestiary Dark
Cid Corman, nothing doing
Geffrey Davis, Night Angler
Giorgio de Chirico, Geometry of Shadows
Deborah Digges, Rough Music
Nava Etshalom, The Knives We Need
Linda Gregerson, Canopy
Joan Naviyuk Kane, Dark Traffic
Ilya Kaminsky, Dancing in Odessa
Ilya Kaminsky, Deaf Republic
Laura Kasischke, Space, in Chains
Danusha Lameris, Bonfire Opera
Ye Lijun, My Mountain Country
Ada Limón, The Carrying
Ada Limón, The Hurting Kind
Nancy Chen Long, Wider Than the Sky
Amy Miller, Astronauts
Jim Moore, Prognosis
Joan Murray, Dancing on the Edge
Hoa Nguyen, A Thousand Times you Lose Your Treasure
Bethany Reid, Sparrow
Masayo Saito, Snow Bones
Caroline N. Simpson, Choose Your Own Adventure
Judith Skillman, Oscar the Misanthropist
Sarah White, Iridescent Guest
Charles Wright, Caribou

. . . . .

Sheila Sondik is a Bellingham printmaker and poet. Her poem “At Tennant Lake” was a Merit Award winner in this year’s Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. Her website is

representing the West

October 2, 2022

We are somewhat tardy in congratulating Diane Sun of Bellevue, Washington, who was selected as the 2022 National Student Poet for the West Region. Selected annually for a year of service as national poetry ambassadors, the juried position is considered “the country’s highest honor for youth poets presenting original work.”

On September 27, 2022, Jill Biden hosted the five National Student Poets for a reading of their work at the White House along with Poet Laureate Ada Limón.

The National Student Poets were selected from students in grades 10-11 who submitted more than 22,000 poems in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards and received top honors in poetry. From this pool of National Medal recipients, 40 semi-finalists were identified as showing exceptional promise as young poets in their regions, based on their originality, technical skills, and personal voice, and were invited to submit additional poetry and performance videos to distinguished jurors for the final selection of the five National Student Poets.

Sun, who attends Interlake High School, is a cohort of the 2022/23 Seattle Youth Poet Laureate Program.

Meet the Class of 2022 National Student Poets and learn more about Diane Sun and the National Student Poets program.

new Poet Laureate

July 12, 2022

The Library of Congress has today announced the appointment of Ada Limón as the 24th Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress.

She joins a long line of distinguished poets who have served in the position, including Joy Harjo, who served three terms in the position (2019-2022), Juan Felipe Herrera, Charles Wright, Natasha Trethewey, Philip Levine, W.S. Merwin, Kay Ryan, Charles Simic, Donald Hall, Ted Kooser, Louise Glück, Billy Collins, Stanley Kunitz, Robert Pinsky, Robert Hass, and Rita Dove.

Ada Limón is the author of six books of poetry, including The Carrying, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award for Poetry. Limón is also the host of the critically-acclaimed poetry podcast, The Slowdown. Her new book of poetry, The Hurting Kind, is out now from Milkweed Editions.

Congratulations, Ada Limón!

. . . . .
photo by Shawn Miller

Literary Arts has just announced a stellar lineup for the 39th annual Portland Arts & Lectures season, 2022-2023. The series wraps up in April 2023 with poet Ada Limón.

Be sure to check out the many other events and classes on tap at Literary Arts, including this Friday’s reading and conversation with Susan Rich and John Sibley Williams.

festival season

September 10, 2020

The 2020 Tell It Slant Poetry Festival (formerly the Amherst Poetry Festival) is a free event that celebrates the poetic legacy of Emily Dickinson and the contemporary creativity of the Pioneer Valley (Massachusetts) and beyond. This year’s festival will be held remotely, and will take place September 14-20, 2020.

The schedule is out now and includes headliners Ada Limón, Jericho Brown, Kimaya Diggs, Franny Choi, Shayla Lawson, and as is tradition, the Emily Dickinson Marathon.

Space is limited, so make sure to sign up for individual programs in advance.

new podcast

July 7, 2020

We recently wrote about voca, the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s Audio Video Library of more than 1,000 recordings of poets reading their work during visits to the Center between 1963 and today. The Poetry Center has now curated selections from voca for a brand-new podcast series, Poetry Centered.

In each episode, a guest poet introduces three poems from voca, sharing their insights about the remarkable performances recorded in our archive. Each episode concludes with the guest poet reading a poem of their own. Our inaugural season includes episodes hosted by Hanif Abdurraqib, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Ada Limón, Urayoán Noel, Maggie Smith, and TC Tolbert.

Visit the Poetry Centered Podcast page to listen, subscribe, or download transcripts.

Congratulations to the 175 writers, scholars, artists, and scientists who have been named winners of 2020 Guggenheim fellowships. The impressive list includes the following poets:

  • Michael Dickman, Poet, Princeton, New Jersey; Lecturer in Creative Writing, Princeton University
  • Janice N. Harrington, Poet, Champaign, Illinois; Professor of English, University of Illinois
  • Ada Limón, Poet, Lexington, Kentucky
  • Philip Metres, Poet, University Heights, Ohio; Professor of English, John Carroll University
  • Aimee Nezhukumatathil, Poet, Oxford, Mississippi; Professor of English, University of Mississippi
  • Lisa Olstein, Poet, Austin, Texas; Professor, Department of English, University of Texas at Austin
  • Jana Prikryl, Poet, Brooklyn, New York
  • Diane Seuss, Poet, Kalamazoo, Michigan
  • Brian Teare, Poet, Charlottesville, Virginia; Associate Professor of Creative Writing, University of Virginia

“Guggenheim Fellowships are grants to selected individuals made for a minimum of six months and a maximum of twelve months. Since the purpose of the Guggenheim Fellowship program is to help provide Fellows with blocks of time in which they can work with as much creative freedom as possible, grants are made freely. No special conditions attach to them, and Fellows may spend their grant funds in any manner they deem necessary to their work.”

award season

January 24, 2019

The National Book Critics Circle has announced its 31 finalists in six categories — autobiography, biography, criticism, fiction, nonfiction, and poetry — for the outstanding books of 2018. The finalists in poetry are:

  • Terrance Hayes, American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin (Penguin Books)
  • Ada Limón, The Carrying (Milkweed)
  • Erika Meitner, Holy Moly Carry Me (BOA Editions)
  • Diane Seuss, Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl (Graywolf Press)
  • Adam Zagajewski, Asymmetry. Translated by Clare Cavanagh (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

Terrance Hayes was also listed as a finalist in the Criticism category, for To Float in the Space Between: A Life and Work in Conversation with the Life and Work of Etheridge Knight (Wave).

The National Book Critics Circle Awards, begun in 1974 and considered among the most prestigious in American letters, are the sole prizes bestowed by a jury of working critics and book-review editors. The awards will be presented on March 14, 2019 at a free public event held at the New School in New York City. See the complete list of finalists in all categories here.

are you listening?

October 23, 2018

Every couple of months, editors from Poets & Writers Magazine offer a behind-the-scenes preview of the latest issue, talk with contributors and authors featured in the magazine, and discuss the lighter side of writing, publishing, and the literary arts in a podcast called AMPERSAND. The latest edition, Episode 22, features “superstar nonfiction writer Susan Orlean, best-selling novelists Barbara Kingsolver and Richard Powers, and Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey.” In Episode 21, Kevin Larimer and Melissa Faliveno discuss the work of Ada Limón and Rebecca Solnit. Find other episodes on Soundcloud. Listen!

National Book Award in Poetry

November 18, 2015

finalists in poetry

The winners of the National Book Awards in Fiction, Nonfiction, Poetry, and Young People’s Literature will be announced this evening, November 18, 2015, at the Benefit Dinner and Ceremony at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. The ceremony will stream live on the National Book Foundation website.

This year’s finalists in poetry are:
Ross Gay, Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude, published by the University of Pittsburgh Press.
Terrance Hayes, How to Be Drawn, published by Penguin.
Robin Coste Lewis, Voyage of the Sable Venus, published by Alfred A. Knopf.
Ada Limón, Bright Dead Things, published by Milkweed Editions.
Patrick Phillips, Elegy for a Broken Machine, published by Alfred A. Knopf.

You can see the long-list and finalists in all categories on the National Book Award page and read Elizabeth Lund’s article on the finalists in poetry in the Washington Post.

%d bloggers like this: