on writing…

April 22, 2014

Louise Glück 2013“Writing is a kind of revenge against circumstance too: bad luck, loss, pain. If you make something out of it, then you’ve no longer been bested by these events.”
Louise Glück

(b. April 22, 1943)
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Poetry and the Creative MindLincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall will ring with poetry on Thursday, April 24, 2014, as a stellar lineup of readers present poems at the Academy of American Poets’ 12th annual Poetry & the Creative Mind. Special guest readers include Michaela Coplen, Billy Crudup, Tina Fey, Kevin Kline, Julianna Margulies, Drew Nieporent, Rosie Perez, Parker Posey, Esperanza Spalding, Patrick Stewart, Meryl Streep and Carrie Mae Weems, plus master of ceremonies Chip Kidd. This fundraising event, which supports the Academy’s education programs, marks the Academy’s 80th anniversary and will include poems from the last 80 years of American poetry. Details: Poetry & the Creative Mind.

Elizabeth Austen

As she launches her tenure as Washington State Poet Laureate, Elizabeth Austen will be the featured poet at poetrynight tomorrow, Monday, April 21, 2014. Join the audience or take the mic at the Bellingham Public Library, 210 Central Avenue (use the back entrance by the fountain). Doors open and open mic signups start at 7:30, poetry begins at 8:00 sharp. More information on the poetrynight site. More on Elizabeth Austen’s schedule on the Washington State Poet Laureate site.

short-form news

April 19, 2014

No Longer Strangers

Portals - Tanka SundayFans of short-form poetry have two books to add to their collections: No Longer Strangers and Portals.

No Longer Strangers is an anthology from Haiku Northwest edited by Tanya McDonald, Marilyn Sandall, Michelle Schaefer and Angela Terry, with additional editing and an essay from Connie Hutchison, cover art by Dejah Leger and further heavy lifting by Dianne Garcia, William Scott Galasso and Michael Dylan Welch. The book includes poems by 78 contributors. For more information, including how to order ($15 plus postage), visit the Haiku Northwest No Longer Strangers page, where you can also see sample pages and other details.

Portals is the forthcoming Tanka Sunday anthology from the Tanka Society of America (TSA), edited by Michael Dylan Welch and Amelia Fielden. The 40-page anthology features 43 tanka by 25 contributors, including two translations by Steven D. Carter, and additional reminiscences by attendees of the 2013 TSA conference. All conference attendees will receive a free copy. For ordering information, keep an eye on the Tanka Society of American website or Facebook page.

who’s tweeting?

April 18, 2014


We’re past the halfway mark in National Poetry Month, exuding poems each day, no doubt. Caught up in the whirlwind of readings and writings, some news is late (but not too late) to capture our attention, including this: the good folks at MASHABLE have compiled a list of 38 “Gifted Poets” who are active on Twitter and worth following, if you care to tweet or be tweeted.

Susan Rich readsThis is a guest post by Susan Rich.

National Poetry Month means that schools, universities, art galleries, and bookshops are hosting poets, asking us to come read our work. And if you’ve ever attended a reading, you know that the experience can be profound or perilous, depending.

I’ve given a good deal of thought about what makes a good poetry listening experience. As someone who goes to poetry readings and also gives them, I like to try and figure out what makes me enjoy a reading.

Today I had the distinct pleasure of listening to the poet Oliver de la Paz read his work. He is a superb poet and a superb presenter of his own work. Here are a few things I learned from him this afternoon:

  1. Welcome your audience. Before Oliver began reading he talked for a little bit about what he would read and where he comes from. Since he was visiting at a college, he emphasized what it felt like to grow up in his hometown of Ontario, Oregon, and the trouble he’d fallen into as a boy to keep boredom at bay. Trouble? Boredom? He had these students completely ready to listen.
  2. Read a diverse selection of your work. Sometimes there are poems that we feel might be “too dark” for our audience; perhaps we don’t want anyone to feel down on our behalf. But the truth is, people come to poetry readings wanting to feel, wanting to be moved. Don’t be afraid to read your intense poems but you can also offer something light, something loving as well.
  3. Tell stories between your poems; give places for the audience to pause. This is something I often need to be reminded of because for many people new to poetry — or new to a particular poet — the story is the gateway to the poem. I’ve seen superb poets skip this step to the detriment of their own work and I’ve seen “ok” poets with a brilliant set-up keep their audience fully engaged.
  4. Mix it up! This week I’m reading at two different venues with two different friends. Instead of the one-poet-then-another routine, we are going to try something new. Perhaps we will each read a poem with the word “blue” in it or we will both read a love poem, or a break-up poem. The idea is that we will integrate the poems and make a sort of “living anthology” so that the experience created will be new and fresh. I’ll let you know how it goes.
  5. Always, always, enjoy yourself! I try to arrange for a dinner with a friend or an after party whenever I read so that I know there will be something to look forward to besides the reading. I enjoy readings but it is an intense experience and I am most happy afterwards when I can chat with people. Knowing that good food is involved makes me feel I’m singing for my supper.

After my book launch at Open Books in Seattle, I wrote a Top 10 List of things to think about when you launch a book. These tips will work for any reading at all — book or not. You can read more at The Alchemist’s Kitchen.
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Susan Rich is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently, Cloud Pharmacy and The Alchemist’s Kitchen, which was a Finalist for the Foreword Prize and the Washington State Book Award. She is the recipient of awards from Artist’s Trust, The Times Literary Supplement of London, Peace Corps Writers and the Fulbright Foundation. Individual poems appear in the Antioch Review, New England Review, Poetry Ireland, and Prairie Schooner. Along with Brian Turner and Jared Hawkley, she is editor of the anthology, The Strangest of Theatres: Poets Crossing Borders, published by McSweeney’s and the Poetry Foundation. Susan runs The Alchemist’s Kitchen blog on travel and the creative life; she is also cofounder of Poets on the Coast: A Writing Retreat for Women.
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NOTE: This evening, Thursday, April 17, 2014, the Northwind Reading Series presents Susan Rich and Kelli Russell Agodon at the Northwind Arts Center in Port Townsend.

what have you found?

April 16, 2014

The Found Poetry ReviewHow’s your daily poetry output for National Poetry Month? There’s no shortage of prompts (for this month and any month), but one of our favorite offerings comes from The Found Poetry Review. Each day’s blog post is a mind-bending prompt from the OuLiPo writing movement. For example, here’s today’s prompt (day 16):

“The chimera of Homeric legend — lion’s head, goat’s body, treacherous serpent’s tail — has a less forbidding Oulipian counterpart. It is engendered as follows. Having chosen a newspaper article or other text for treatment, remove its nouns, verbs and adjectives. Replace the nouns with those taken in order from a different work, the verbs with those from a second work, the adjectives with those from a third.”

Give it a try! Or…if OuLiPo doesn’t inspire you, have a look at NaPoWriMo, The Music In It: Adele Kenny’s Poetry Blog (where she has pre-posted a month’s worth of prompts), Christopher Jarmick’s Poetry is Everything or some of our previous posts on poetry prompts.

Happy writing!


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