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, 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:

Carla Shafer, prolific poet, longtime facilitator of Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater, and editor of Solstice: Light & Dark of the Salish Sea, is assembling a new anthology: Poems to End Racism. Here’s the complete call from Carla:

I am collecting poems to address racism for an anthology celebrating Autumn and Spring Equinoxes as times of equity and balance. Poems (all forms) will show equity as a condition that can be celebrated at least twice a year, once in Spring (the season of new growth and endless possibilities) and once in Fall (the season of fruiting and abundance).

Selected poems will share an awareness of self and of the natural world that imagines, demonstrates, and/or calls for an end to racism, an end to hate and systems of oppression of an “other.” These poems will explore it, expose it, and break it up with images and experiences and may also give a vision of humanity at its best.

Create your own expression of equinoxes out of your experiences and the natural world where you can lift up personal/family stories authentic to experiences of racism during the last 15,000 years. Please look through your experience of how racism resides in you, what you want to share for others to see in fresh ways.

If you want to experiment with a poem crafted together with another poet, that works. Remember, your poems will be in the company of like-minded poets and writers who together will explore a whole panorama on racism and equity in well-crafted work with insights and flashes of clarity to resonate with another’s mind and heart.

Submit in MSWord or pages as an attachment (PDF okay) to:
Submission deadline: Monday, July 31, 2023
Indicate if your poem is in the Spring or Fall Equinox.
Limits: Poem length of 33 lines fills a page, maximum of 2 pages. Short poems are welcome, too. Line breaks occur at 58 spaces/characters.

The panel will look for diversity that demonstrates the problems of racism and oppression of other. While we resist labels, for the purposes of getting deep consideration (and if comfortable doing it), please include your name, racial and ethnic identities with pronouns, and year you were born. If you are white and submitting, invite a person of color who will submit too. If you are a person of color who writes poems, please submit. If you identify as LGBTQI or A, please submit.

If you would like to be on the panel of readers who recommend poems for the anthology, please let me know. You will be fully acknowledged.

Thanks! If you have questions, send your questions to me in an e-mail.
Carla Shafer, Writer, Editor, Publisher
She/her – 4th generation American/Czech-German heritage/Protestant/1944
Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater
Bellingham, Washington, USA

The Larger Voice

November 6, 2022

The Native Arts and Cultures Foundation (NACF) advances equity and cultural knowledge, focusing on the power of arts and collaboration to strengthen Native communities and promote positive social change with American Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native peoples in the United States.

The NACF National Artist Fellowship initiative was built around the fact that in order for any artist to succeed creatively, they need time, space, and financial support to cultivate their creative process, improve their craft, explore new concepts and, for some, take risks that they might not have had the capacity to take otherwise.

The Larger Voice: Celebrating the Work of Native Arts and Cultures Foundation Literature Fellows is a new publication by NACF that highlights the work of National Artist Fellows in literature. Edited by Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest, the collection features cover art by Dyani White Hawk Polk (Sičáŋǧu Lakota), a foreword by U.S. Poet Laureate Joy Harjo (Mvskoke), and selected works by Sherwin Bitsui (Diné), Laura Da’ (Eastern Shawnee), Natalie Diaz (Mojave and an enrolled member of the Gila River Indian Tribe), Heid E. Erdrich (Ojibwe Turtle Mountain), Kelli Jo Ford (Citizen of the Cherokee Nation), Santee Frazier (Citizen of the Cherokee Nation), Linda Hogan (Chickasaw), Layli Long Soldier (Citizen of the Oglala Lakota Nation), Mona Susan Power (Enrolled Member of the Standing Rock Sioux Nation), Luci Tapahonso (Diné), David Treuer (Ojibwe), Michael Wasson (Nez Perce [Nimíipuu]), and Elizabeth Woody (The Confederated Tribes of the Reservation at Warm Springs, Oregon).

Read The Larger Voice on issuu or request a PDF.

at the local library

April 15, 2022

Nice to see POETRY WALK: Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest, The First Five Years on display in such good company at the Bellingham Public Library for National Poetry Month. Edited by Nancy Canyon and Anita K. Boyle, and designed and illustrated by Nancy Canyon, the 152-page collection includes the full text of all winning poems from 2006 through 2010. Copies are still circulating in the Whatcom County Library system and at Western Washington University.

A second five-year collection was published in 2015 and chapbooks of winning poems have been published annually since then. The 2022 chapbook will be available at the time of the awards ceremony, Thursday, May 19, 2022.

call for student poems

March 10, 2018

Portland, Oregon, based Honoring Our Rivers invites student (kindergarten through college!) submissions of original writing, art, and photography for the annual Pacific Northwest Rivers anthology.

The submission deadline is EARTH DAY, April 22, 2018.

The subject matter is Pacific Northwest rivers: “anything relating to your watershed” including oceans, animals, human interaction, forests, etc. “We especially love to see students express their personal connection to rivers.” Within the anthology, there is also a themed section: Celebrating the tribes of the Pacific Northwest and their ancestral and present-day relationships to rivers.

Read the complete submission guidelines here.

A conservation nonprofit, Honoring Our Rivers encourages stewardship of river watersheds and nurtures the next generation of civic and conservation leaders by engaging the creative capacities of youth. Learn more here.

watch for it…

June 27, 2017

We have it on good authority that Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall is working on a series of readings for Washington 129.

We’ll post them here when dates are confirmed, but meanwhile, check out the review of Washington 129 by Dennis Held in The Spokesman-Review.

toasting the new year

January 3, 2017

World Enough Writers

Do you have poems in which beer, wine, or spirits play a role? If so, wobble on over to World Enough Writers and have a look at the submission call for the Beer, Wine, & Spirits Anthology. To be edited by James Bertolino and published in Winter 2018, the anthology invites poems of any style, form, or line length. Submit one poem at no charge, two or more for $5. As of this writing, the submissions page does not include a deadline, so submit soon.

nudge nudge

October 14, 2016

Washington 129

We mentioned this back in March, so this is just a gentle reminder that submissions are still open for Washington 129, the anthology of poems by Washington State writers being assembled by Washington’s Poet Laureate, Tod Marshall. According to the call for submissions, “all poets, no matter age or experience level, are encouraged to submit. Poems are not required to address Washington geography, imagery, or culture directly, but those that do will be given priority consideration.”

Poems must be previously unpublished. Submit no more than three poems as a single Microsoft Word attachment or in the body of an email to Be sure to include your name, phone number and email address. (Poems may also be submitted by U.S. mail; details on the call for submissions.)

One hundred twenty-nine (one for each year of Washington’s statehood up to 2018) of the poems will be included in a print anthology; an additional selection will be assembled into an e-book available online.

Visit the Washington 129 page on the Washington Poet Laureate site, download the call for submissions and send your poems!

cat call

June 22, 2016

Sugar skull catHere’s a call for poems that’s sure to offend some people and sure to elicit fine words from stories untold:

Poet Dee Dee Chapman is (in her own words) “putting together an anthology on the theme of dead cats. Why dead cats, you say? Good question! (I love cats, for the record, and wish them to be fluffy, sassy and cuddly for as long as we both shall live.) This is an experiment, because I discovered the theme to be oddly prevalent at a poetry reading, and the more I talk to writers about it, the more pieces are out there that fit. I’m excited to discover what the topic/theme/image can mean, and where it will take us beyond the initial loss of a companion.”

After an initial round of submissions, promoted through Facebook and word of mouth, Chapman has extended the deadline and says, “My first round of submissions was wonderful, strange and promising. However, I’d like to publish a full-length anthology, so I’m keeping submissions open….Side note: I’m truly sorry to all the friends I know have lost their fluffy friends recently. Please don’t take my interest in this subject to mean I’m insensitive to the loss of kitty companions. Quite the opposite.

“Continued CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS to NINE LIVES LATER: A Dead Cat Anthology. This upcoming anthology seeks to examine the image of a dead cat. We are accepting poetry, nonfiction, prose, fiction, art, music. Previously published is acceptable. We are looking for work that takes the theme beyond the loss of companions (though great work that grieves them will be considered). ***NOTE: living cat stories will not be accepted; neither will other dead animal stories. This is a specific theme, please submit only pieces within that theme. Compensation is one copy of the anthology when it is printed in October, as well as invitation to read at the anthology’s release party.”

The submission deadline is Thursday, September 1, 2016. Submit work by email to

. . . . .
Sugar Skull Cat

Ice Cream, etc.

April 4, 2016

World Enough Writers

World Enough Writers, an imprint of Concrete Wolf, publishes a diverse offering of themed poetry anthologies and selected individual collections. Managing editor Lana Hechtman Ayers has announced topics for a number of upcoming collections, including an Ice Cream Poetry Anthology edited by Patricia Fargnoli, deadline Tuesday, May 31, 2016. Send something tasty!

More on the World Enough Writers website and World Enough Writers on Facebook.

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