get out the calendar!

March 31, 2022

National Poetry Month begins tomorrow, April 1, and the calendar is packed. While we don’t claim comprehensive coverage, the month of April on the CALENDAR page has a pretty good selection of events. While more in-person readings are beginning to show up, there are still plenty of virtual events if you’re not quite ready, or if you’re not nearby. (Please note that recurring weekly and monthly events are listed separately.)

If your Cascadia-region event (April or otherwise) is not on the calendar (please check first!), leave a Comment with the essential details, including a website (required) where readers can find more information.

The CALENDAR page is updated almost daily, so check back!

O, pen, be heard

February 19, 2022

If you’re interested in getting your work in front of a Cascadia audience, there are plenty of journals currently accepting submissions. While the past two years have disrupted many publications, it’s heartening to see how many are still in business.

This list includes only those that have current deadlines or read submissions year-round (deadlines are listed only if they appear on the journal’s website or submission manager). It does not include contests and, except as noted, is focused primarily on poetry submissions.

Before you submit, read the journal to see if your work is a good fit, read (and follow) the guidelines very carefully, and read your work to make sure it’s ready for prime time.

See the NW lit scene sidebar at right for a more complete list of current and archived journals, etc., in the Cascadia region.

. . . . .
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Finding Light Together

December 21, 2021

This is a guest post by Holly J. Hughes

To share stories during dark times has long been a necessary, radical act.
~ from the Introduction to
Keep a Green Bough: Voices from the Heart of Cascadia

As I write this, we’re losing just four seconds of light each day as we approach the winter solstice, when the days will begin to stretch longer again. This incremental, daily loss of light is elemental as gravity, our seasonal rhythm, but for the last two years, the darkness has felt darker, deeper. And for the last two months, I’ve had to look hard each day to find the glimmers of light that sustain me. I know they’re there — all I need do is step out my door to see them: rain-slick rhododendron leaves, abandoned apple trees still holding a few apples, bright berries of the madrona, billowing clouds that part for a few stray rays of sun. But some days even those glimpses aren’t enough. For me, one of the enduring lessons of the pandemic is that we’re in this together — and that’s when I turn to other writers to help sustain my spirit.

A year ago, I was invited by the publisher of Empty Bowl Press to edit an issue of The Madrona Project. Responding to the mission of Empty Bowl as a publisher of “literature that reveals human communities in wild places,” I put out a call for submissions, asking my sister writers how living in our Cascadia bioregion has sustained them during the past challenging year. I was hopeful that in these divisive times, this invitation might offer a way to come together around this place and our shared common fate.

My hope was to express the diversity of voices in the Cascadia bioregion, so I reached out to many writers, starting with those who’ve lived here since Time Immemorial, as well as women working the land and the sea. My inbox was soon overflowing with poems, essays, and art reflecting not just the beauty of our place but the resiliency of the human spirit. As the voices came together, the title, too, came: Keep a Green Bough: Voices from the Heart of Cascadia, after the Chinese saying, “Keep a green bough in your heart, the singing bird will come.”

Keep a Green Bough has been out in the world for six months now. From the amazing turnout at our Finnriver farm launch to our last Zoom reading hosted by Peninsula College’s ʔaʔkʷustəŋáw̕txʷ House of Learning, those in the audience have been visibly touched and, I hope, heartened. Each time we read together, I find myself in tears at the end, moved by the beauty and power of words spoken honestly, and the resilience not only of the human spirit but of all our kin.

For me, this collection has become a steady reminder of what was affirmed last year: how essential that we connect with our living Earth and witness her human history, even the painful parts, then join together to do all we can to create a just and sustainable future for all beings.

As Rainer Maria Rilke reminds us, this is the role of the poet:

O tell us, poet, what do you do? — I praise.
But those dark, deadly, devastating ways,
how do you bear them, suffer them? — I praise.

. . . . .

In addition to editing Keep a Green Bough: Voices from the Heart of Cascadia, Holly J. Hughes 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

author photo by John Pierce

The Madrona Project

October 9, 2021

On Friday, October 15, 2021, at 7:00pm, please join Village Books, the North Cascades Institute, Humanities Washington, and ArtsWA for a group reading from The Madrona Project Vol. 2, No. 1, featuring Holly J. Hughes and Rena Priest.

For this issue of THE MADRONA PROJECT, editor Holly J. Hughes invited sixty-four women writers and artists from the Northwest to reflect on what it means to live and write in the Cascadian bioregion at the end of 2020, a year that challenged our resilience on every level. Reaching out to national and regionally acclaimed poets and essayists from Alaska to Oregon, as well as new and emerging writers, she brings together a diverse chorus, including Indigenous voices and some who work the land or sea. The voices gathered here remind us that our lives in Cascadia are still interwoven with fir and cedar, salmon and kingfisher, heron and eagle, raven and crow’ perhaps even more so as we face an uncertain future together, turning to the natural world for signs of resilience and hope. Throughout this powerful collection, writers and artists bear witness to the hard truths not only of our history but of ongoing inequities laid bare by the pandemic and the consequences of centuries of colonialism and exploitation, inviting us to consider the urgent question of our time: how to move forward into a future that’s socially just and sustainable, that honors all our voices and stories. With a moving preface by Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest of the Lummi Nation, this collection affirms the beauty, strength, and resilience of Cascadia and her people, and how our fates have always been deeply intertwined and interdependent, now more so than ever.

Advance registration is required.

best selling

September 3, 2021

Nice to see two Cascadia-region publishers (Empty Bowl and Fonograf) and five titles among the top twenty poetry bestsellers for August from Small Press Distribution! All available through your favorite independent bookseller.

Eat this Poem

August 15, 2021

Eat this Poem is a website that pairs food and poetry, one city at a time, along with musings on writing, cooking, creativity, motherhood, and embracing the simple things. The site’s Literary City Guides, A travel resource for bookworms who love to eat, feature a number of communities in Cascadia, including Ashland, Bellingham, Boise, Corvallis, Missoula, Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver and Victoria, BC.

face to face?

July 8, 2021

(NOTE: this post has been updated since it was published on July 8, 2021.)

We were curious about the prognosis for in-person poetry readings, so we contacted a bunch of event organizers from around Cascadia. There are certainly some missing and a few didn’t reply (perhaps they’ll Comment with current info), but here’s what we’ve found out so far (locations are Washington unless otherwise noted):

  • BookTree (Kirkland) will probably resume in-store readings in September and may have a couple of special events with visiting poets before then… like in August.
  • Broken Mic (Spokane) weekly in-person open mics resumed on Wednesday, July 7, 2021.
  • Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater (Bellingham) continues on Zoom on the second Wednesdays in July and August. Starting in September: second-Wednesday live readings at an indoor location TBA and fourth-Wednesday Zoom open mic readings; the two may later merge into a hybrid.
  • Couth Buzzard (Seattle) weekly in-person Wednesday Open Mics resumed on July 7. Seating is limited so reserve by calling 206-436-2960.
  • Creative Colloquy (Tacoma) MAY be back in action in July but no firm answer quite yet; will continue to host The Writer’s Workshop Series virtually for the time being.
  • Creekside (Bellingham) will not gather in person or Zoom for the summer months but hopes to resume on Zoom in the fall, perhaps October.
  • Duvall Poetry (Duvall) at some point will meet again in person at the Duvall Library, but no definite date has been set.
  • Easy Speak (Seattle)
  • Edmonds Bookshop (Edmonds) has no immediate plans for in-person readings, but hopes to be ready for a National Poetry Month gathering in April 2022.
  • Elliott Bay Book Company (Seattle) expects to start hosting some in-person readings in October (Teresa K Miller will appear in person on October 10), while still hosting some Zooms. Elliott Bay has just announced its first in-person event in a year and a half: a ticketed outdoor benefit reading with Molly Wizenberg.
  • Empty Bowl (Anacortes) is still publishing and plans to send out a schedule of live, in-person readings to begin in September.
  • Everett Poetry Night (Everett) has two weekly in-person readings: Sundays at Legion Park (open mic, weather dependent) and Thursdays at Café Zippy (open mic plus feature, in covered patio)
  • 49 Writers (Anchorage, AK)
  • Gelato & Poetry Night (new in Bellingham) meets in person, in the patio, with a featured reader and open mic, 2nd and 4th Sundays, 2:00pm at All That Jazz Boutique Gallery, downtown. Masks and vaxx required. More on Instagram @allthatjazzgallery.
  • Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic (Vancouver) hopes to return to in-person readings in a new location before the end of the year. Also hoping to find $upport for continued Zoom coverage.
  • Haiku Komo Kulshan (Bellingham) is on hiatus for the summer. Will Zoom in September with a kukai.
  • Haiku Northwest will continue to meet via Zoom through the summer and will meet in person for the annual Seabeck Haiku Getaway, October 28-31, 2021.
  • Hugo House (Seattle) is still working out the details, with the first in-person Scribes summer camp in August, select in-person adult classes beginning in September, and other in-person events and classes phased in slowly this fall.
  • It’s About Time (Seattle) reports that the Seattle Public Library will not host public events through the end of the year, so plans for resumption of in-person readings at the Ballard branch remain in the works.
  • Lilla Lit (Portland, OR)
  • Margin Shift: Friends in Poetry (Seattle) isn’t quite ready to declare an in-person, indoors schedule, but will celebrate with the first live reading in 15 months on Thursday, July 15, at Volunteer Park at 6:30pm. This and future events will also livestream.
  • Milwaukie Poetry Series (Milwaukie, OR) hopes to host the 15th Season in person starting this Fall. Meanwhile, the 14th Season continues online.
  • Northwest Renaissance Poets (Auburn) does not have plans to resume in-person readings but hopes to start looking at options soon.
  • Olympia Poetry Network (Olympia) venue, New Traditions Café, has not yet opened for live events, but OPN is looking at September or soon after as a dream date for normalizing the monthly series.
  • Open Books (Seattle) is optimistic and the all-volunteer event staff is discussing plans, but there’s no definitive answer yet.
  • Planet Earth Poetry (Victoria, BC) is currently venue hunting; hopes to be able to resume face-to-face readings in the fall and also hoping to do a hybrid Zoom/in-person format.
  • PoetryBridge (West Seattle) on August 15, 2021, Leopoldo announced that in-person sessions would be postponed “until the situation regarding Covid improves significantly. My new plan is to have the next event be a ‘pop up’, meaning that I will provide fairly short notice based on improved conditions.” To receive updates by email, send a note to info@poetrybridge.net.
  • poetrynight (Bellingham) is talking about restarting but uncertain about the timing and location as their venue, the Alternative Library, is moving.
  • Puget Sound Poetry Connection (Tacoma) will meet live on Friday, September 10, at 7:00pm at Immanuel Presbyterian Church for the first live meeting after nine months of Zoom.
  • RASP (Redmond) awaits word from the venue on renovations and whether/when in-person sessions may be possible.
  • Red Wheelbarrow Writers (Bellingham) intends to begin in-person first-Saturday gatherings in August, including an open mic for ten readers as part of each meeting, newcomers welcome.
  • Salon of Shame (Seattle) is not sure when in-person will resume, but is putting together an outreach strategy to ensure they’ve got plenty of readers once they do.
  • SoulFood Poetry Night (Redmond) plans to resume its in-person events with the September 16, 2021, reading and meanwhile, continues on Zoom with the July 15, 2021, reading marking SoulFood Poetry Nights’s 15th anniversary, with features Jeannine Hall Gailey and Annette Spaulding, who were the very first readers on July 18, 2006.
  • Striped Water Poets (Auburn)
  • Valley Writers (Bellingham) will continue meeting on Zoom, 1:00-3:00pm on the last Friday of the month until further notice.
  • Village Books (Bellingham) in-person open mics with Seán Dwyer will resume in July (both Spanish-language, 6:00pm, and English-language, 7:00pm) with simultaneous Zoom for off-site readers.
  • Whatcom Writers & Publishers (Bellingham) is on hiatus for the summer following a celebratory in-person picnic. Watch the site to see if the second-Wednesday meetings will resume in person or online.
  • Windfall (Eugene, OR) will resume in September; the hope is that Windfall will continue in a hybrid fashion, with authors at the library proper, but streaming the readings so folks can tune in from anywhere in the known universe.

Meanwhile, in related news: Pacific Northwest Writers Conference will remain 100% online for 2021 as will Write on the Sound writers’ conference, while Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association will hold their regular tradeshow, in person.

Please be sure to check web links for the latest information.

HUGE thanks to the determined organizers who have kept on in spite of the odds and who responded so quickly to my pleas for information.

. . . . .
Photo by Joe Mabel

busy times

March 30, 2021

As we navigate into National Poetry Month, the calendar gets busier and busier. This is just a reminder that The Poetry Department maintains a 12-month CALENDAR of events throughout Cascadia.

While many of our favorite reading series have gone dark in the last year, we’ve held on to their weekly and monthly calendar listings if there is still a website available and hope they may eventually be revived. Many programs have moved onto Facebook and we include those links where available.

The information provided is very limited: a date, brief description, time (Pacific unless otherwise noted), and, importantly, a link where you’ll find more information.

To add your local event, leave a Comment on any post or send a note to thepoetrydepartment AT gmail.com.

Check back often; the calendar is updated almost every day.

calendar page

May 30, 2019

Just a reminder that the CALENDAR page is loaded with poetry events and updated almost daily. It covers the Cascadia region and extends 12 months into the future.

We’ve added sections for events that happen Every Week and Every Month, and we’ve also added poetry/writing conferences and the dates that submissions open for publications that are based in the region.

To make a correction or add your event to the calendar, send an email to thepoetrydepartment at gmail dot com with the following information (required): date, city, brief description, time, venue, valid link for more information.

Click on CALENDAR, near the top of this page. Add your event. Visit often.

what’s goin’ on…

April 3, 2018

It’s National Poetry Month and there’s waaaaay too much going on to feature everything on the front page. But The Poetry Department CALENDAR page is updated almost every day and while it doesn’t include everything, it lists a lot more events throughout Cascadia…and throughout the year!

To add your Cascadia event, leave a Comment or send an email to thepoetrydepartment AT gmail.com (you know the drill), listing the date, the city/state, a brief description, the time, the venue, and a LINK to a website where readers can find more information.

Check back often and mark your calendar!

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