Literary Arts has just announced a stellar lineup for the 39th annual Portland Arts & Lectures season, 2022-2023. The series wraps up in April 2023 with poet Ada Limón.

Be sure to check out the many other events and classes on tap at Literary Arts, including this Friday’s reading and conversation with Susan Rich and John Sibley Williams.

This is a guest post by Susan Rich

I’ve recently returned to the joyous quiet of my home after attending the Associated Writing Programs (AWP) conference in Philadelphia. Once again, I was made acutely aware of my discomfort at sojourning with 7,000 of my peers. And I would bet I am not alone in this uneasiness. Those of us who enjoy a well-lit stanza or the swagger of an em dash may not be equally at ease at a cocktail party or karaoke bar. However, over time, I’ve adopted several strategies for managing my shyness because honestly, I do want to connect with other poets. I hope you find some of these ideas helpful.

  1. Write notes of appreciation to poets you admire. Don’t be afraid to be a fan girl. Poets are not like John Legend or Taylor Swift; they do not sell out stadiums (okay, Edna St. Vincent Millay did). I believe even a “big” name poet wants to hear how their words were important to you. Anytime I’ve written to a “famous” poet, I’ve always received a generous reply.
  2. Invite a poet to lunch! Perhaps this is pushing you out of your comfort zone but it might also be the best way to get to know someone whose work you admire. Twenty years ago I wrote a “brave” email to Kelli Russell Agodon asking her out to lunch to talk about publishing in this new way — on the internet. I’m so glad I did. Kelli is now one of my closest friends.
  3. Thank poets who approach you: someone who comes up to you after a reading or an elementary school student who needs to write a report due tomorrow or a poet who saw your work on-line. They are reaching out to you, why not reach right back?
  4. Post poems you admire on social media or on a blog. This is a very easy way to make friends! It’s a great surprise and an honor. This can be done in whatever way that you would enjoy; match a poem with a photograph or a color. Make it fun!
  5. Find a couple of close poet friends that you can share work with, and laughter. These are the people that will keep you going: attending readings together, sharing favorite poems and lots of laughter. Keep them close. One of my closest poetry friends is Geraldine Mills whom I met in Ireland when our first books had just come out.
  6. Be generous. Push yourself to approach a poet at AWP (the writing conference comes to Seattle next year). This year, I went to a couple of different poets’ book signings as I know how awkward it feels to sit at a table and watch people walk right by.
  7. Know other poets are probably as shy as you are. Broadly speaking, we poets are not extroverts. And yet, we want our poems to touch the lives of other people. We want to connect.

. . . . .

Susan Rich is the author of five books of poetry; most recently GALLERY OF POSTCARDS AND MAPS: NEW AND SELECTED POEMS (Salmon Poetry, 2022). Until it launches more widely in July, you can find her new book at Seattle’s Elliott Bay Book Company. Visit Susan at http://poetsusanrich.com.

Author photo by Kristie McLean.

. . . . .
NOTE: Raven Talk, Raven’s online podcast, will present Harold Taw in conversation with Susan Rich this Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at 7:00pm, discussing Susan’s new book, Gallery of Postcards and Maps: New and Selected Poems. Details and registration link here.

on poetry

July 9, 2019


“I needed to go out and extend the margins of my world before I’d know anything worthy of a poem.”
Susan Rich
(b. July 9)

. . . . .
photo
quote

Bye Bye, WordsWest

May 27, 2019

For five years (2014-2019), WordsWest has hosted literary events on the third Wednesday of the month, 7:00pm, at C & P Coffee Company in West Seattle. This is the final year of events for WordsWest and Wednesday, June 19, 2019, is the last event. You’re invited to celebrate with the poets at “Cake in the Garden,” featuring an incredible line-up of WordsWest writers from all five years, including Elizabeth Austen, Quenton Baker, Rick Barot, Claudia Castro Luna, Christine Deavel, Lyanda Lynn Haupt, Rachel Kessler, J.W. Marshall, Greg November, Renee Simms, and Ann Teplick. WordsWest co-curator Harold Taw will offer a favorite poem and Open Books will be on hand to offer books for sale.

Thanks to WordsWest for five good years!

here they come!

January 3, 2018

Get ready. The Nasty Women Poets are headed your way. Nasty Women Poets: An Unapologetic Anthology of Subversive Verse (Lost Horse Press) is a timely collection of poems that speaks not just to the current political climate and the man who is responsible for its title, but to the stereotypes and expectations women have faced dating back to Eve, and to the long history of women resisting those limitations.

In BELLINGHAM, four of these nasty women — Bellingham poets Jennifer Bullis, Susan J. Erickson, and Jessica Lee, and Seattle poet Carolyne Wright — will present a lively array of poems from Nasty Women Poets at Village Books in Fairhaven on Sunday, January 14, 2018, at 4:00pm.

In SEATTLE, contributors Kelli Russell Agodon, Jennifer Bullis, Susan J. Erickson, Susan Rich, Martha Silano, Judith Skillman, and Carolyne Wright will share some nastiness at Open Books on Friday, February 2, 2018, at 7:00pm.

In REDMOND, poets Jennifer Bullis, Martha Silano, Judith Skillman, and Carolyne Wright will be featured at SoulFood Poetry Night on Thursday, February 15, 2018, at 7:00pm.

The nasty women poets included here talk back to the men who created those limitations, honor foremothers who offered models of resistance and survival, rewrite myths, celebrate their own sexuality and bodies, and the girlhoods they survived. They sing, swear, swagger, and celebrate, and stake claim to life and art on their own terms.

The anthology, edited by Grace Bauer and Julie Kane, includes work from Kim Addonizio, Jan Beatty, Kelly Cherry, Annie Finch, Alice Friman, Allison Joseph, Marilyn Kallet, Melissa Kwasny, Shirley Geok-lin Lim, Jessica Mehta, Lesléa Newman, Nuala O’Connor, Alicia Suskin Ostriker, Melinda Palacio, Jennifer Perrine, Marge Piercy, Lucinda Roy, Maureen Seaton, Rochelle Spencer, A.E. Stallings, Stacey Waite, Diane Wakoski, Müesser Yeniay, and a fabulous coven of other women’s voices.

Other readings are scheduled nationwide (there are nasty women everywhere!) including Baltimore, Cambridge, Kalamazoo, San Francisco, and elsewhere. Watch for them — better yet, ask for them — at a bookstore near you.

Half-day retreat in Seattle

February 7, 2017

typewriter-flowers

Join Susan Rich and Kelli Russell Agodon at their ONE-DAY Generating New Work Writing Workshop in Downtown Seattle on Saturday, March 4, 2017. There will be a single extended class, “Generating New Work,” from 10 am to 2:30 pm, with a short break for lunch.

Together, we will write poems inspired by an array of new writing prompts. You will leave with at least 5-7 poem starts, most likely more! Spend focused time writing poems in a safe nurturing environment. Poets of ALL levels welcome from the beginning poet to the published author. Come spend the day with us: writing, laughing, and surprising yourself with what you can do in a short time — with creative guidance and just the right atmopshere.

You can find additional details on The Alchemist’s Kitchen and registration information here.

ALSO note that registration is now open for Susan and Kelli’s Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Writing Retreat for Women, September 8 – 10, 2017, in La Conner, Washington.

Finding inspiration

June 25, 2016

Oregon Territory map 1833

When it comes to maps, Inspiration is more than a ghost town in Arizona. Maps offer mystery, language, design, history and direction. As described in Leo Kent’s article, The poetry of maps,” cartography has long been a resource for poets.

For the cartophile, various authors analyze the connection between poetry and maps for the publication Cartographic Perspectives (search for poetry).

For more, read the poem “Old Territory. New Maps.” by Deborah A. Miranda or browse The Cartographer’s Tongue by Susan Rich.

If you’re looking for inspiring maps, the Washington State Archives and State Library offer their extensive holdings free online. Visit Legacy Washington to see a list of historical maps of various types from various time periods. (Note that a plug-in is required and may be installed from the site to view the maps in high resolution and to zoom, pan, adjust color, etc.)

Where will your poetry take you next?
. . . . .
Oregon Territory map

Early-bird tickets available!

February 13, 2016

Skagit River Poetry FestivalTickets are now on sale for the 2016 Skagit River Poetry Festival, May 19-22 in the historic town of La Conner, Washington. The four-day event features some of the most renowned and diverse names in poetry, including Naomi Shihab Nye, a celebrated Arab-American writer described as “international in scope and internal in focus.” She is four-time winner of the prestigious Pushcart Prize.

The 9th biennial festival opens with a literary bang on May 19, when spoken word poets take the stage in a program called “Wake Up. Speak Out,” challenging 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; Daemond Arrindell, curator of the Seattle Poetry Slam; American-Bangladeshi poet, educator, editor, and spoken-word artist Tarfia Faizullah; and Seattle Grand Slam champion Matt Gano.

Over the next two days, the festival presents some of the most thoughtful and provocative voices in contemporary poetry, reflecting cultures from around the world. The lineup includes Aimee Nezhukumatathil, a poet born to a Filipina mother and Malayali Indian father; Natalie Diaz, a member of the Mojave and Pima Indian tribes and a former professional basketball player; Zen Buddhist priest and poet Norman Fischer; poet Lorna Dee Cervantes, a major voice in contemporary Chicana literature; and Koon Woon, born in a small Chinese village near Canton in 1949 and described as a “cross-cultural rebel.”

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 who is dedicated to bringing humanities to underserved populations. “Poetry matters — not just to poets, professors, and students — poetry matters to everyone,” he says.

Events include a Thursday night Soiree extravaganza, a mixer with festival artists that includes wine and delicious, locally sourced hors d’oeuvres. On Sunday, the final day of the festival, select poets will offer writing workshops to the public. The workshops will be posted on the Festival Workshops page and at Brown Paper Tickets in April.

Tickets for all other events are on sale now at www.brownpapertickets.com. Be sure to click through the dates and ticket offerings on the menu. Special discounts are available for students with ID and seniors over 65. Unless sold out, tickets will also be available at the door. Get your Early Bird ticket by March 1 and save $25.

The festival takes place in venues throughout La Conner. “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 at (www.skagitriverpoetry.org), email skagitpoetry@gmail.com, or call 360-399-1550.

putting the treat in retreat

December 12, 2015

Poets on the Coast

Kelli Russell Agodon and Susan Rich have just announced not one, but two upcoming writing retreats.

The first will be a Seattle Winter Retreat on Saturday, February 6, 2016, from 10am to 4pm. There will be two workshops: Generating New Poems (10am – 1pm) and From The Art of Revision (1:30pm – 4:00pm). Take one or both, or save on registration by bringing a friend.

The second will be Kelli and Susan’s annual writing retreat for women, Poets on the Coast, which will again be in La Conner, September 9-11, 2016.

Enrollment, which is now open, is limited for both retreats, so if you’re intrigued, don’t delay.

reading art

October 15, 2015

MoNAWe’ve mentioned Poets on the Coast: a Writing Retreat for Women before. Participants join Kelli Russell Agodon and Susan Rich for sessions on creativity, generating work, publication, a Master Class workshop, and one-on-one mentoring. This year’s retreat included a visit to the Museum of Northwest Art (MoNA), in La Conner, where participants wrote poems inspired by the paintings, photographs, mixed media pieces and installations on exhibit. The resulting poems are now posted on the MoNA site.

Poets on the Coast 2016 has already been scheduled and registration is open! Space is very limited. Sign up now and watch for updates on Facebook.

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