on poetry

September 16, 2019

“History is a succession of things that ought never to have happened, and the writing act is a kind of revenge against this.”
Breyten Breytenbach
(b. September 16, 1939)

. . . . .
photo by Keke Keukelaar

picturing regional history

November 12, 2018

If you’re inspired by history or looking for some visual prompts for your poetry, pay an online visit to the Washington Rural Heritage Collections of the Washington State Library. The Collections provide free access to digitized primary sources documenting the early culture, industry, and community life of Washington State. 152 cultural institutions have participated in the project and there’s a link to the archive for each one on this page. It’s a fascinating and surprisingly personal collection.

. . . . .
photo: U.S.S. Constitution “Old Ironsides anchored outside of Jim Crow Creek on the Columbia River. She is a three-masted sailing ship build in 1797 at the Edmund Hartt’s Shipyard in Boston, Massachusetts. Said to have never lost a battle, she can currently be seen in Boston at the Constitution Museum. Masts were 200 feet high, wooden hull. Jim Crow Creek is located in Section 4, Township 9N, Range 7W and is upstream from the mouth of the Columbia River. The ship went from Longview, Washington on August 24 to San Francisco, California on August 31, 1933; this period is likely when this photograph was taken.”

laureate lore

June 30, 2018

If you visit the Washington Poet Laureate website, you’ll find a profile of the current PL, Claudia Castro Luna, and a list of the state’s previous poets laureate: Samuel Green (2007 – 2009), Kathleen Flenniken (2012 – 2014), Elizabeth Austen (2014 – 2016), and Tod Marshall (2016-2018).

Western Washington University professor Laura Laffrado is, pretty much single-handedly, working to correct a very significant omission from that list: Washington’s first poet laureate, Ella Rhoads Higginson.

An article by Ron Judd in the Sunday, June 24, 2018, PacificNW magazine section of The Seattle Times details Laffrado’s monumental task and the passion she shares with her WWU students. If you missed it in print, you can still read it online.

zine some history

November 2, 2016

2nd Annual Historical Zine Contest

The Washington State Library invites Washington residents of all ages to make a zine for the 2nd Annual Historical Zine Contest. The topic is some aspect of Washington history. Submissions can poetry or prose, illustrated or collaged. There’s no specific size or number of pages, but submissions must be mailed or dropped off — no email submissions. The deadline is Thursday, December 15, 2016.

Find more information, resources (including a link to a How to Make a Zine video), and a downloadable Contest Flyer and Entry Form on the Washington State Library Zine Contest page.

Gloria Burgess at WWU

This evening — Tuesday, October 4, 2016 — at Western Washington University in Bellingham, award-winning poet, performer and distinguished scholar Gloria Burgess will explore the “heritage of spirituals and poetry from the African-American tradition in a spirited sojourn through words and music.”

Presented by Humanities Washington and co-sponsored by Western Libraries and the Western Washington University Departments of English, Liberal Studies, and Music, the presentation will be held on campus at the WWU Performing Arts Center and is free and open to the public.

Additional details from Humanities Washington.

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Photo: Quinn Dombrowski

how to read a poem

March 27, 2015

Leicester Cathedral

Now and then a poem finds its way into the heart of an historic moment. Yesterday, at Leicester Cathedral, amidst pomp and ceremony, Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “Richard” was honored with such a moment. As part of the reburial of the bones of Richard III, Benedict Cumberbatch read Duffy’s poem. Watch and listen. Then read more about the ceremony from the BBC.

Lily of the Mohawks*

July 10, 2013

Lily of the Mohawks by Joe Nolting
2013 Merit Award
By Joe Nolting

               your Algonquian blood flows wild
yet when the white man’s water
splashes cold on your forehead
               it changes everything
even the river’s direction
pulls you from forests, lakes
past your ancestors who stir in their graves
reach out as the current pushes you
farther from the center of your world
               delivers you to the place
where water does not flow
every spoken word is a dry cough
smallpox steals your brother and parents
scars your face, blurs sight
               except for visions of a god
who commands you to sleep on thorns
walk across coals, kneel in snow
embrace each new pain with ecstasy
               ecstasy that eclipses
all but the moment of death
when your scars dissolve, sight returns
you climb into the birch bark vessel
that carries you to the wild, white water.

*Copyright 2013 by Joe Nolting. Placard design by Egress Studio.

history walk…

November 7, 2012

Sidewalk in King Park on Lake Michigan. © Anne WallaceHere’s a not-quite-poetry walk, but a sidewalk project that shares the accidental poetry of storytelling and history. Texas artist Anne Wallace has created three sidewalk oral history projects: two in San Antonio, Texas, one in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. In each project, she has interviewed local residents, then stamped their stories — letter by letter — into the wet cement. See her description of the projects and a series of photos here, and a close-up photo of Wallace stamping here.
. . . . .
photo: Sidewalk in King Park on Lake Michigan. John Michael Kohler Art Center project with the City of Sheboygan, Wisconsin. 2009 © Anne Wallace

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