Lake Louise Spring*

November 29, 2020


2020 Merit Award
By Judy Bishop

Cold rivulets run down over rocks,
through woods, finally flow into the lake.
Hillside alders beaten by winter’s wrath,
limbs bent, broken into submission.
The well-worn path, wet and muddy,
crisscrossed by rabbits and squirrels.
Robins — hearty spring harbingers — hop, stop,
cock their heads. Red-winged Blackbirds cling
to cattails, cry, divert attention from nests.
Nervous geese, eager to mate, squawk
and take flight at slightest sounds.

Pink Salmonberry blossoms beckon Rufous
Hummingbirds. Western Skunk Cabbage cups
curled leaves in prayer.

Sunshine and the stay-at-home order welcome
trail walkers. We dance our six foot distance,
warmly greeting neighbors never met before.

The south wind forms honey-comb patterns on
the lake. Below the surface, lilies in their dark
unseen secret world, not unlike the virus, begin
their epic journey toward the light. So do we.

*Copyright 2020 by Judy Bishop. Broadside illustrated by Angela Boyle.

Poets House

November 20, 2020

We try to keep things somewhat upbeat here at The Poetry Department, but were saddened to read that Poets House, the nation’s premier poetry library, at Battery Park City in New York, has announced that it will suspend operations indefinitely, effective immediately, due to budgetary issues caused by the Coronavirus. It is hoped that the library may be able reopen late in 2021 once the pandemic is under control and Poets House has reconfigured its operations.

Though events have been suspended, online resources continue to be available, at least for the moment, including audio, video, and digital materials, such as a wonderful collection of chapbooks from the “Mimeo Revolution.”

Gatherings

September 1, 2020

Gatherings is an art and poetry based project that experiments with a cycle of giving and receiving. The project began with 51 professional artists (making a total of 56 boxes), and 53 poets contributing original poems. Artists created their art on handcrafted wooden boxes. Poets have written original poetry for inclusion inside the boxes. The Gatherings boxes then began to travel as each artist chose a person to give the box to. Each recipient participated by adding something meaningful they chose to include inside the box: narrative writing, commentary, a poem, artwork, a meaningful object. That person then chose the next recipient, and so on in a sequence of giving and receiving.”

The boxes and all their contents will be available for interactive viewing at: Patricia Rovzar Gallery in Seattle, WA, September 1 – September 14, 2020, and Gail Severn Gallery in Sun Valley, ID, September 18- October 4, 2020.

Visit the Gatherings Project website for images, credits, poetry, and more information.

kids STILL need books

July 17, 2020

Back in February (doesn’t that seem like a very long time ago?) we published a guest post by Joe Nolting about the wonderful Kids Need Books program. Even with all the social challenges of our time, KNB has been distributing books to families who want them. Kids still need books and Joe and his team are figuring out ways to distribute them safely.

If you’re cleaning out bookshelves, please consider sharing books with people who need them. Read Joe’s latest post on KNB’s essential work and how you can help.

free poetry workshop

July 5, 2020

The Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) invites you to participate in a free online poetry writing workshop, “Poetry of Stillness,” this Wednesday, July 8, 2020, at 3:00pm Pacific.

A writing experience for people who have been affected by COVID either through work or personal connections, this workshop is designed to focus on a quiet moment and find beauty and peace in something small.

Workshop participants will read several peaceful, beautiful poems, and then be guided through writing a poem of their own. No previous writing experience is needed, but even experienced writers should enjoy the time of focus and meditation.

Danielle Hanson is the author of Fraying Edge of Sky (Codhill Press Poetry Prize) and Ambushing Water (finalist for Georgia Author of the Year Award). She is Poetry Editor for Doubleback Books, and is on the staff of the Atlanta Review.

Find the workshop here (sundress).

Poetic Shelters

May 22, 2020

The ever-busy, ever-imaginative Claudia Castro Luna, Washington State’s Poet Laureate, has introduced a new project for these times: Poetic Shelters.

“This project asks you to consider the poetics of your home and how its physical and emotional character is changing during this time. The home, whatever that may be for someone, is a space we each know intimately and can therefore represent poetically by sharing our memories, frustrations, daydreams, and also by by describing its physical configuration.”

Poems, mini-essays, and accompanying photos, if available, are invited. While Poetic Shelters is Washington-centric, contributors from other locations are welcome to submit.

Visit Poetic Shelters for more information and to read a sampling of poems.

Pandemic Assignment

May 16, 2020

This is a guest post
by T. Clear

Tasked with the poetry prompt tomato, I sat down to a white page, and waited for something to happen. I’ve never been one to write to a prompt. All attempts have resulted in a ho-humness that’s not worth the energy it takes to type. Stabs at keeping a journal and establishing a daily writing practice have never amounted to much. A poem chooses me, instead of the other way around. I won’t say I’m happy with this arrangement, but I’ve come to accept it. Yet there I was, with an assignment, and because I had the time, decided to give it a chance.

Tomatoes belong to the nightshade family — Solanaceae — which includes potatoes, peppers and eggplants, as well as several poisonous species. As children, my five sisters and I feared deadly nightshade, whose dark purple blossoms with yellow starburst centers grew vigorously on the fenced edges of our property. We knew not to eat any of the crimson berries, and our idiomatic folklore taught that we would die within 15 minutes upon ingestion of any part of the plant. We wore gloves to yank it out; it exuded a bitter scent, as if even inhalation had the power to strike us down.

Nightshade seemed a good place to start work on a poem. A quick search informed me that the nightshade we so deathly feared was actually bittersweet nightshade (also known as felonweed, snakeberry, violet bloom); and death, though a possible outcome, is generally not a consequence, unless one were to consume ripe berries in great quantities, and with no ensuing intervention. Just like that, a large swath of my childhood beliefs was proven wrong. I wondered: what else did we believe would do us in, or not? And how were we so lucky to survive childhood’s real dangers? — Maple trees from which to plummet, the wrath of stinging nettles, blackberry vines whose unforgiving thorns snagged our arms in bloody zigzags. Skinned knees and elbows, a little finger sewn back on after surviving a door-slam, ice on a headbump: we persisted. Disease was not part of our vocabulary, except for the vaccination scars on our upper arms, which we compared and rated for their size and visibility.

Wait — wasn’t I trying to write a tomato poem? Yes, well….

Okay. Nightshade fit into the first line. That qualified it as a tomato poem, in a species-roundabout way. But from there, I veered to fairy-ring mushrooms, to a remedy for nettle stings, to the wild sorrel that grew abundantly in open fields, and on to the hazelnuts we cracked with our molars (which initiated long years of fracture). Death came only with the dogs killed on our busy street because they roamed freely then, as did we.

Until the summer we adopted a stray black cat and named him George. He moved in as if returning from a long journey, glad to get back to his own bed. We couldn’t have been more delighted with this affectionate, good-natured pet. And all that cuddling-up-in-bed with George resulted in a summer-long lockdown, of sorts, confined to our half-acre yard while we recovered from a nasty case of ringworm, compliments of…George. Though less than three months, it was an eternity to a six-year-old. Our dad drove away with the infected pet and we stayed on our side of the fence, nightshade and all. No explanation as to the cat’s destination, but none of us wanted to know. The protective innocence of childhood is a kind of virtue. The truth of the cat’s fate was too much for us to hear.

And suddenly there it was, on the screen: my poem, 33 roughly drafted lines. My tomato poem, veered from its triggering subject to my own childhood folklore. So lost in the stream of consciousness generated by the realization that my nightshade wasn’t deadly nightshade, I’d surrendered to the afternoon, and the poem essentially wrote itself. From a prompt.

Perhaps I succeeded because I’m home all the time now, compliments of the truly deadly danger from which we hover behind walls. Or maybe my belief that I can’t write from a prompt is faulty, like the belief in immediate death by nightshade. Maybe, it took this time to be able to stretch out, more time than I’ve had since childhood, minus that nagging sense that I was missing some essential task. And yet, when I sat there poemless with tomato looming before me, that become my essential task: a tomato, a poem, a black cat named George, and quarantine.

. . . . .


 
 
A co-founder of Floating Bridge Press, T. Clear’s poetry has appeared in many magazines and anthologies, including Iron Horse Literary Review, Lily Poetry Review, Poetry Northwest, Raven Chronicles, and The Rise Up Review. She is on the editorial board of Bracken Magazine, and facilitates the Easy Speak Seattle critique group Re/Write. Her website is tclearpoet.com.

. . . . .
[Ed. note: T. Clear’s tomato poem is being submitted for publication. Please stay tuned.]

submit!

May 14, 2020

If you, like many creative people, have been writing in response to COVID-19, have a look at the Submittable Creative Calls for Submission page. There are plenty of opportunities to get your work in front of an audience, and the list is updated regularly.

press here

April 24, 2020

Streaming live from print shops around the world every Saturday: United in Isolation. Find the link on Facebook. It starts at 19:00 CEST (that’s 10:00 a.m. Pacific), and most of the videos should remain viewable for at least a while. (Visit Facebook to see the video of Expedition Press from the first week’s video program.)

The programmers, who are making nothing (except great connections) from their effort, say, “Our goal is to unite letterpress printers, both the experienced and the newcomers by building an inspirational video archive documenting letterpress stories from all over the world.”

The lineup for Saturday, April 25, 2020, is:
Peter Duffin, Animales de Lorca, VALENCIA, SPAIN
Judith Berliner, Full Circle Press, NEVADA CITY, CA, USA
Aleksandra Stępień, WARSAW, POLAND
Ane Thon Knutsen, Graphic Design, OSLO, NORWAY

Each press will present for about 15 to 20 minutes.

The first-ever Youth Poet Laureate of the United States, Amanda Gorman, strolls through the currently closed Los Angeles Central Public Library to share a powerful poem of hope. Watch her on CBS This Morning and visit the poet’s website to see her impressive accomplishments.

. . . . .
thanks to Holly Harris and Luther Allen for the suggestion

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