SpeakEasy 27: A Spiritual Thread engaged five poets in what turned out to be a nine-month poetic conversation. The resulting series of linked poems was presented in five Zoom readings.

To complete SpeakEasy 27, audience members were invited to submit their own poems inspired by and directly linked to specific ideas or language in the 25-poem series. Round 6, on Sunday, March 28, 2021, at 7:00pm Pacific, will feature response poems by Sarah Brownsberger, Lauren Camp, Nancy Canyon, Bev Darnall, J.I. Kleinberg, Eric Kosarot, Rachel Mehl, Peter Messinger, Jory Mickelson, Don Mitchell, Kevin Murphy, Bethany Reid, Sheila Rosen, Paul Sarvasy, Betty Scott, Carla Shafer, Sheila Sondik, Allie Spikes, and Nik Warren.

Additional information and video of the previous readings is available on the Other Mind Press SpeakEasy 27 page. The reading is free on Zoom (Zoom link available from the participating poets or by sending an email to othermindpress AT gmail.com). Please join us!

The poets (Dayna Patterson, Jennifer Bullis, Bruce Beasley, Luther Allen, and Susan Alexander) will continue their poetic musings in Round 4 of SpeakEasy 27: A Spiritual Thread on Saturday, February 6, 2021, at 7:00pm Pacific.

By this point in the linked series, spirit and virus are inextricably entwined. The intimacy of breath and the magnitude of the imponderable are stitched together. The poems reach back not only to the immediately preceding poem, but also to the entire collection, now some six months in the making.

The reading is free on Zoom with a password, available by sending an email to othermindpress AT gmail.com. See the poets’ bios and links to videos of the previous three readings on the SpeakEasy 27 page.

In November 2019, Luther Allen invited four poets to join him in creating a series of linked poems on a spiritual theme for the next SpeakEasy. No one could have imagined either the scope of the project or the many challenges 2020 would set in the way.

The idea is quite simple: one person writes a poem; the second person writes a poem in response; the third person writes a poem in response to poem 2, etc. It had been a very successful approach in 2014, when SpeakEasy 14: String Theory presented un-themed linked poems by five poets.

In his invitation, Luther suggested that each poet would have about a week to respond to the poem they had received, and that SpeakEasy 27 would probably happen in April or May. All of the invited poets — Susan Alexander, Bruce Beasley, Jennifer Bullis, and Dayna Patterson — accepted the invitation and the writing commenced.

By the end of the first round of five poems, the word pandemic had surfaced. It soon became apparent that schedules could not be imposed on the shape, content, or duration of these poems. Nine months and 60 pages of poetry later, SpeakEasy 27: A Spiritual Thread stands as a poetic testament to a year quite unlike any other.

Over the coming months, the poets will read and comment on their poems in a series of free readings on Zoom. The first reading will be on Saturday, November 14, 2020, at 7:00pm Pacific. To participate, send an email to othermindpress@gmail.com. You will receive sign-in information by email.

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

In addition to the two poetry workshops offered on October 22, the Sue Boynton Poetry Contest is offering two more on Saturday, November 12. Here are the details:

10:30am to 12:30pm
Intergenerational Poetry

Instructor: Luther Allen

A workshop to write collaborative poetry for pairs of people from different generations — kids and parents, kids and grandparents, adults and parents, maybe just someone you want to get to know better who’s younger or older than yourself. The younger partner should be at least 10; a difference of at least 20 years in age is suggested. The instructor will lead participants through a step-by-step process to create a collaborative poem. Experienced and novice writers are welcome. Each pair of writers will generate at least one “fun” poem and one more serious poem intended to explore connections between generations.

Luther AllenLuther Allen is a life-long poet, former teacher and author of The View from Lummi Island. Learn more at Other Mind Press.

Cost: $44 for a pair of intergenerational participants.


1:30 to 3:30pm
Poetry and the Spiritual
Instructor: Paul Piper

In this workshop participants will explore what it means to engage the spiritual in the form of a poem. Topics could touch on: poems as prayer or meditation; the spirit (inspiration) of the poem; poetry as spiritual investigation; and numerous others. The workshop will draw from the participants and their discussions, insights, beliefs and interactions. Activities will include reading examples of “spiritual” poetry, writing poetry and discussion of concepts.

Paul PiperPaul Piper was born in Chicago, lived for extensive periods in Montana (where he received his MFA in Creative Writing) and Hawaii. He is currently a librarian at Western Washington University. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals. He has five published books of poetry, the most recent is Dogs and Other Poems (Bird Dog Publishing). His writing is included in the books The New Montana Story, Tribute to Orpheus and America Zen. Paul Piper also co-edited the books Father Nature and X-Stories: The Personal Side of Fragile X Syndrome. Learn more at Paul Piper’s blog.

Cost: $32 per person.

Both workshops will be held at Mindport Exhibits, 210 W. Holly in downtown Bellingham. Fees benefit the Sue C. Boynton Poetry contest (a program of Whatcom Poetry Series, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization) and include admission to Mindport Exhibits. You may pay at the workshop, but advance registration is required.

To register, e-mail boyntonpoetrycontest AT hotmail DOT com.

Download a flyer here (PDF format, Adobe Reader required).

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