workshop reminder

January 24, 2022

Just a quick reminder that Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest will be offering an online poetry workshop this coming Saturday, January 29, 2022. Enrollment is limited, but there are still a few spots available. The workshop, called “Pulling Poems from the Ends of Our Pens,” will be held 10:00am to Noon on Zoom and a complete description is available on the Workshops page.

Registration is required and all fees benefit the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest. TO REGISTER, submit your payment of $30 via Venmo (www.venmo.com/SueC-BoyntonContest ) OR by check (made out to Sue C. Boynton Contest) mailed to PO Box 5442, Bellingham, WA 98227-5442. Please be sure to include your name, email, phone, and the title/date of the workshop(s) you wish to attend. Zoom links will be provided after registration.

On Saturday, January 29, 2022, 10:00am – Noon Pacific, Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest will offer an online (Zoom) workshop: Pulling Poems from the Ends of Our Pens.

Here’s Rena’s description of the workshop:

“Where do your poems come from?” This question is often asked in Q & A sessions and interviews. I think it’s a great question. Where do poems come from? We’ll have a discussion about where our poems come from and if you have a favorite poem you’ve written, I invite you to bring it along and share it, along with a few words about your process. People will also often ask “How do you start a poem?” In this workshop we’ll begin by sharing our strategies for getting started, and we’ll respond to a series of prompts. By the end of our time together you’ll have a fresh set of ideas on which to build new poems.

Rena Priest is a Poet and an enrolled member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She has been appointed to serve as the Washington State Poet Laureate for the term of April 2021-2023. She is a Vadon Foundation Fellow, and recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award. Her debut collection, Patriarchy Blues, was published in 2017 by MoonPath Press and received an American Book Award. She is a National Geographic Explorer (2018-2020) and a Jack Straw Writer (2019). She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College.

Registration is required and all fees benefit the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest: $30 per workshop. Zoom links will be provided after registration.

TO REGISTER, please submit your payment of $30 via Venmo (www.venmo.com/SueC-BoyntonContest ) OR by check (made out to Sue C. Boynton Contest) mailed to PO Box 5442, Bellingham, WA 98227-5442. Please be sure to include your name, email, phone, and the title/date of the workshop(s) you wish to attend. If you have questions, please contact Jay, our workshop coordinator by email: jsnahani AT gmail.com.

See the full lineup of winter 2022 workshops on the Workshops page.

Artists help us to see

November 6, 2021

Dear Friends,   

In the last year and a half, I have really put in the hustle to establish myself as a reliable freelance writer, a warm and insightful guest speaker, an arts lecturer, and a friendly roving poet. I like to think that I have taken care of my community and myself by creating new poems that are infused with light, hope, beauty, and love, and by doing work that has given my tribal community something to celebrate. 

I took the leap and left my secure, tribal government position, knowing that Artist Trust’s Vadon Foundation Fellowship for Native Artists allowed me to take a calculated risk as I accepted an appointment as Washington State Poet Laureate. In this way, Artist Trust’s funding has been hugely beneficial to me, to the Indigenous community, and to the Washington poetry community by making it possible for a candidate that would otherwise be excluded due to economic limitations, to be eligible to take on this very demanding and highly visible role.   

I am ever motivated to share my love of poetry and art; to give to others what so many poets and artists have so generously given to me — a way of seeing the world that helped me see beyond my own experiences — a springboard for my own imagination.

I believe now, more than ever, artists need financial support. We are in a time where it’s going to be crucial to imagine a new world and a new way forward. Your gift to Artist Trust will directly support the artists who are catalysts for this imagining. Creation is our business. We are cultural change agents. Storytellers and artists help us to see the world as it is and as it could be. They offer us new perspectives and entice human culture toward evolution.

The world is made brick by brick of stories, images, and models that take shape in the world first by inspiring a new way of seeing, which evolves into a set of beliefs, then actions, then reality. Who will envision this new reality if our visionaries cannot do their work because they’re forced to choose between making rich men richer with their labor or making the world beautiful through their art?   

Hoykweche,   

Rena Priest

a visit from Rick Steves

October 20, 2021

Rick Steves may be “America’s most respected authority on European travel,” but Washington state is his home base and poetry is on his agenda. With that in mind, Bellingham Whatcom County Tourism invited Rick Steves to sample the local fare, which he did, in three episodes. In the third and final segment, his cultural tour concludes with a poem read by Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest. We don’t get to see Rena, but we get a coastal flyover and we hear her voice as she reads her pantoum, “Focus and Circuli: Songs on the Salmon Scale” beginning at about 04:30 on the video timer.

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.

Window on Rena Priest

August 2, 2021

There’s a nice article by Frances Badgett on Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest in the new issue of Window, the magazine of Western Washington University. Have a look at “Ending the Plague with Poetry.”

. . . . .
thanks to Nancy Pagh for the lead

today in Chimacum!

July 14, 2021

The Madrona Project, published twice a year for a total of seven issues, by Empty Bowl, features the best work by poets and writers who are “outsiders” — who write in and of this world: outside of self, outside the mainstream, or simply outdoors.

Today, Wednesday, July 14, 2021, at 6:00pm, at Finnriver Farm & Cidery in Chimacum, Washington, Empty Bowl will celebrate the publication of The Madrona Project, Volume II Number 1, Keep A Green Bough: Voices From The Heart Of Cascadia, edited By Holly J. Hughes.

For this issue, Hughes invited 64 women writers and artists from Alaska to Oregon to reflect on what it means to live and write in the Cascadian bioregion at the end of 2020, a year that challenged resilience on every level. Reaching out to national and regionally acclaimed poets and essayists as well as new and emerging writers, she brings together a diverse chorus, including Indigenous voices and those 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.”

There will be a reception, followed by readings by ten authors, including Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest, who will read from her preface to the volume. Four artists will also be showing their work.

Echology Poetry Walk

July 10, 2021

poem by DL Fowler on blue plaque staked alongside a walking trail

This summer (well, actually now through November), take a poetry walk in Gig Harbor. ECHOLOGY, a project by Jennifer Preston Chushcoff funded by the Gig Harbor Arts Commission, honors the return of chum salmon to the ancient spawning grounds of Donkey Creek.

Poems by Elijah Brambila, Jennifer Preston Chushcoff, DL Fowler, Brett Marlo, Rena Priest, Justin Teerlinck, Josie Emmons Turner, Lydia K. Valentine, and Cathy Warner are staked on placards along the Donkey Creek trail. Additional informative placards are placed in the Harbor History Museum and Austin Estuary Park.

ECHOLOGY culminates at the Donkey Creek Chum Festival in November, where selected poets will read their poems.

. . . . .
Thanks to Rena Priest for the heads up!

Poetry Club Talks

July 1, 2021

photo of darkened old bookstore with open book floating in the middle and the words Poetry Club Talks...

We have mentioned a LOT of poetry podcasts, but somehow overlooked Poetry Club Talks, a weekly, public discussion group and podcast produced in Bellingham and hosted by Ron Leatherbarrow and other Poetry Club members. There are 25 episodes available for listening and download, including May 15 and May 23, 2021, conversations with Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest. More Poetry Club on Facebook. Have a listen!

6:00 p.m. today!

June 24, 2021

Sorry for the last-minute notice, but just learned about this free online reading at 6:00pm today, Thursday, June 24, 2021. Writers with work in the Submergence: Going Below the Surface with Orca and Salmon exhibition will present a live-on-Facebook reading of writing on the orca-salmon co/recovery theme.

Readers include Rena Priest, Christianne Balk, Sarah DeWeerdt, Sandra Noel, Orin Melvin, Jayne Marek, Alicia Hokanson, Gloria Vando, Sheila Dearden, Fredda Jaffe, Ching-In Chen, and Sophia McLain. Sophia McLain will also speak about the process of creating letterpress broadsides for the exhibition.

Submergence is the culmination of a workshop and event series co-created by Endangered Species Coalition and Creature Conserve, with support from Jack Straw Cultural Center.

You can visit the exhibition at Jack Straw Cultural Center until July 2, 2021. Schedule an appointment Monday-Friday between 10:00am-5:30pm by calling the gallery at (206) 634-0919 or emailing jsp@jackstraw.org.

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