September 2023 may seem a long way off, but December 2022 is the perfect time to grab one of just a few spaces left for Poets on the Coast (POTC), a weekend retreat for women.

The 14th annual POTC, September 8-10, 2023, will be held in person at the beautiful Country Inn in La Conner, Washington. Joining Susan Rich will be guest poets Jessica Gigot and Jane Wong.

The much-loved and lauded retreat is designed for women writers of all levels, from beginning poets to well published ones. Weekend activities include: Friday evening poets’ reception, morning yoga, sessions on generating new work, best workshop practices, swag bags, poetry houses (small community groups), and one-on-one meetings with Susan, Jane, or Jessica.

Register now to be part of the 2023 POTC family, or contact POTC if you have questions. The lowest early-bird rates apply only until January 1, 2023.

see you in La Conner!

October 5, 2022

The Skagit River Poetry Festival gets going tomorrow, Thursday, October 6, 2022, with a soirée at Maple Hall in La Conner followed by a special reading: Welcome to Indian Country: A Reading to Celebrate our First Nation Roots, with Rena Priest, Sasha LaPointe, and Ray Young Bear, Music & Blessing with Kevin Paul and Katherine Paul of Black Belt Eagle Scout.

On Friday, high school students from eight local districts will attend four sessions of panels and readings. The public is invited to attend additional panels on Friday afternoon beginning at 2:30pm, and an all-poets reading at Maple Hall at 7:30pm Friday.

A dazzling array of panels continues through Saturday, 8:00am to 5:00pm, and the festival culminates with a special reading by Lorna Crozier, Terrance Hayes, Jane Hirshfield, and Karen Solie: Healing the Divide: Poems of Kindness & Connection.

See the Schedule with the complete list of activities, sessions, and faculty. Tickets are available through Eventbrite.

Hope to see you there!

Sunday in La Conner

July 24, 2022

poster with colorful tie-dyed background

Roll on down to La Conner today, Sunday, July 24, 2022, and join friends at the Skagit River Poetry Foundation’s Make Me Wanna Holler Music & Poetry picnic. Starting at 2:00pm with a musical set by Heron & Crow, the afternoon and early evening (til 7:00pm) will alternate between music and poetry, with featured poets and community open mic (sign up on the spot). It all happens at Pioneer Park, at the southwest corner of La Conner, on the Swinomish Channel right under the iconic Rainbow Bridge. It’s free, with food and bev available for purchase. Bring the family, bring camp chairs, and come share some summertime festivity.

For further details, listen to Margaret Bikman’s interview with Steven Dolmatz and Judy Kleinberg on KMRE.FM.

Join the Skagit River Poetry Foundation
for a summer celebration
Outdoor Picnic at Pioneer Park
La Conner, Washington
Sunday, July 24, 2022, 2:00-7:00pm
Heron & Crow, Erik Christensen Band, and Deep River Blues Band
Northwest poets plus audience open mic
Burgers, dogs, drinks, and ice cream
Family friendly
Bring a camp chair or blanket

Mark your calendar!
(and while you’re at it: make a note of
the Skagit River Poetry Festival, October 6-9, 2022)

no fest

September 26, 2020

In case you missed the announcements, the Skagit River Poetry Festival (October 1-4, 2020) has been cancelled. Watch the Skagit River Poetry Foundation website for updates and read more about the Foundation’s Poets in the Schools program.

planning waaaaay ahead

October 25, 2019

Mark your calendar. It’s official: the 11th Biennial Skagit River Poetry Festival will be held October 1-4, 2020, in La Conner, Washington. Watch the website for details and follow on Twitter @PoetrySkagit.

La Conner two-fer

November 9, 2017

La Conner, Washington, will host two poetry events on Saturday, November 18, 2017:

  • WORKSHOP. At 1:00pm, Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall will conduct a workshop on Ekphrastic Poetry. The workshop will be held at the Museum of Northwest Art. Cost: $25, 10% discount to Museum members.
  • READING. At 6:00pm, Tod Marshall will host poets Tom Robbins, Tess Gallagher, Samuel and Sally Green, Alice Derry, Michael Daley and Jennifer Boyden for an evening of poetry from the pages of Washington 129. The event, which will be held at Maple Hall, is free.

. . . . .
photo by Walter Siegmund

this month in La Conner

December 10, 2016

detail of Poem on the Stairs by Dianne Firth

On display now through December 30, 2016, at the La Conner Quilt & Textile Museum is Ekphrastic: Quilts & Poetry. To assemble this exhibit, the Fibre Art Network of Western Canada (FAN) invited twelve well known Canadian poets to contribute a poem, and each poem was then interpreted by four FAN members. You can preview the poems and quilt-art on the FAN website. Better yet, spend a day in La Conner and see them in person.

. . . . .
image: detail of Poem on the Stairs by Dianne Firth, created in response to “Poem on the Poem on the Stairs” by Chandra Mayor

Patricia Smith!

November 6, 2016

Patricia Smith

Patricia Smith doesn’t spell her name with an exclamation point, but she should. A powerful poet and a dynamic performer and instructor, Smith will offer a three-hour workshop and a public reading in La Conner on Sunday, November 20, 2016.

The workshop, “Stamping the Word with You,” will examine the elements that help you identify, define, and establish your creative signature. It runs from 10:00am to 1:00pm at the La Conner Middle School Library, 503 N. Sixth Street in La Conner. Cost is $120, and the workshop is limited to 15 participants. For registration, contact Molly McNulty at

Smith’s public reading will begin at 2:00pm at the Museum of Northwest Art, with donations at the door to benefit The Skagit River Poetry Foundation, which brings poets into public-school classrooms throughout the region.

In her reading, Patricia Smith will discuss her new book, Incendiary Art, which examines the black experience in prose poems, sestinas, and sonnets. She will also explore the conception, trajectory, and difficulties of crafting a cohesive manuscript.

Patricia Smith is the author of six critically acknowledged volumes of poetry, including the National Book Award-finalist Blood Dazzler, a chronicle of the human and environmental cost of Hurricane Katrina, and the National Poetry Series winner Teahouse of the Almighty. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and in both Best American Poetry and Best American Essays.

Skagit River Poetry Festival 2016

It only happens every other year and it’s coming right up. So in case you haven’t put it on your schedule or purchased your tickets, here’s the full text of the recent press release for the Skagit River Poetry Festival, May 19-22, 2016, in La Conner, Washington:

This year brings a world of fresh, provocative voices to the Skagit River Poetry Festival, May 19-22 in the historic town of La Conner. The celebrated four-day event, with performances, readings, workshops, and discussions, features some of the most renowned and diverse names in poetry, including Pushcart Prize winner Naomi Shihab Nye, an Arab-American writer described as “international in scope and internal in focus.”

The festival opens with a literary bang on Thursday, May 19, when celebrated spoken word poets take the stage in a program called “Wake Up. Speak Out,” challenging and provoking audiences with new poetic ideas and forms. Participants include Jeanann Verlee, who has represented New York City ten times at the National Poetry Slam; Jamaal May, Detroit poet and filmmaker; Bangladeshi-American poet and spoken-word artist Tarfia Faizullah; Daemond Arrindell, curator of the Seattle Poetry Slam; and Seattle Grand Slam champion Matt Gano, emcee of this event. The popular Northwest band Rabbit Wilde will provide the musical stomp.

Over the next two days, the festival presents some of the most thoughtful voices in contemporary poetry, reflecting cultures from around the world. The lineup includes:

  • Natalie Diaz, a member of the Mojave and Pima Indian tribes, and former professional basketball player
  • Aimee Nezhukumatathil, who writes at the intersection of Filipino, Indian, and American cultures
  • Norman Fischer, Zen Buddhist priest and poet
  • Lorna Dee Cervantes, a major voice in contemporary Chicana literature
  • Garrett Hongo, celebrated Japanese-American poet

Top Northwest poets on the bill include Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation fellow Richard Kenney from Port Townsend; Canadian musician, philosopher, and award-winning poet Jan Zwicky; and Washington State’s new Poet Laureate, Tod Marshall, a professor at Gonzaga University dedicated to bringing humanities to underserved populations. “Poetry matters — not just to poets, professors, and students: poetry matters to everyone,” said Marshall.

Special events include a Thursday night Poet’s Soiree extravaganza preceding the “Wake Up. Speak Out” program. This mixer includes wine and delicious locally sourced hors d’oeuvres, along with the chance to meet the poets one-on-one.

Back this year are popular Sunday writing workshops with festival poets, including sessions on “Found Poetry,” “Poetry and Silence,” and “Invoking Magic” with Jeanann Verlee. Poet Tim McNulty leads a special three-hour session on nature writing that takes participants outdoors with their journals, and Kevin Craft, editor of Poetry Northwest, offers attendees tips on writing and getting published. New this year are individual consultations with festival poets. Writers can have a poem critiqued in a 20-minute session for $20.

Tickets to all festival events, including all-festival passes, are on sale at Brown Paper Tickets. You can also go to the Festival website for a direct link and description. Special discounts are available for students with ID and seniors over 65. Unless sold out, tickets will also be available at the door.

The biennial festival takes place in venues throughout La Conner, which is transformed by poetry for four days. “The festival turns La Conner into a town filled with poetry, from its churches to its museums, its community center, and its bed and breakfasts,” says poet Susan Rich. “Where else can a person sleep, eat, live, and breathe poetry for a spring weekend?”

The festival, one of the largest celebrations of poetry on the West Coast, is put on by the Skagit River Poetry Foundation, a non-profit organization that brings poets into school classrooms year-round to promote literacy, an appreciation of language, and youth participation in culturally diverse communities. All proceeds benefit the foundation’s mission to support lifelong literacy and cultural diversity through the writing, reading, performing, and teaching of poetry in Northwest Washington schools and communities.

For more information, visit the Festival website, email, or call 360-399-1550.
. . . . .

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