I’ve been listening to the fantastic podcast, A Tiny Sense of Accomplishment, produced by two of my favorite Spokane authors, Jess Walter and Sherman Alexie (who now lives in Seattle but is a local idol). If you haven’t downloaded their podcast yet, do it now. Seriously, right now.
On a recent episode, Alexie confesses that he still gets a kick out of seeing his work in print. I’m glad to hear the sensation doesn’t fade with frequency, as I too get a little giddy each time I see my words next to those of poets I admire. It’s also a joy to acquaint myself with poets whose work I have not yet had the pleasure of reading, but quickly move me.
Twice this month my mailbox has been graced with publications in which my own poems are printed alongside some really incredible poets–incredible because they are well known and respected, are wonderful people I know personally, or both.
Spokane Poet Laureate Thom Caraway and Jeffrey Dodd of Sage Hill Press teamed up to create this beautiful anthology of Spokane poets, including Mark Anderson, Laura Read, John Whalen, Tod Marshall, and Nance Van Winckel.
Floating Bridge Review No. 7
I was also honored to be printed in Floating Bridge Review No. 7 alongside such talent as Terry Martin, Susan Rich, Jared Leising, Kevin Miller, Bill Carty, and more. I’ve so enjoyed reading this issue that I’m considering subscribing to more journals. It’s like getting a tea sampler–so many great experiences in one package!
This year I’ve been blessed with many publishing opportunities, and have been lucky to be included alongside some very prominent writers. Here are a few of the highlights of the year:
I’m so pleased to be RiverLit‘s 2014 Poet in Residence. This Spokane-based literary journal features beautiful fiction, poetry, and artwork in each issue, and continues to grow an enthusiastic following. My work was featured in each issue this year, including the upcoming Issue No. 17.
This exhibit with accompanying publication was a collaboration between the Yakima Light Project, The Greater Yakima Valley Writers, and Blue Begonia Press. Though I could not attend the public reading, I was pleased to be part of the project.
Lilac City Fairy Tales
As a benefit for INK Art Space (for whom I was previously Curriculum Director and Website Manager), brilliant fiction writer Sharma Shields invited writers to contribute to a book featuring fiction and poems on the theme “Magic is Normal.” The Lilac City Fairy Tales project originally focused on Spokane-area female writers, but local enthusiasm widened the door to prominent males writers like Jess Walter and Sam Ligon. The book is beautiful and can be purchased at the performance event on Sept. 25th at the Bing Crosby Theatre, at which the all-female band Mama Doll will be performing. If you’re in the area, don’t miss this magical night!
cover art “Iness” by Florian Nicolle, CC BY-NC 3.0
layout of title by Brooke Matson
Women seem to be the subject of my chapbook covers lately. I think it has to do with a focus on self-exploration that has permeated the last several years of my life.
This collection of poetry has a wide variety of poems, from the heavy to the light-hearted and somewhat comedic. I try to end my books on positive notes, and so the poems of loss I’ve been writing lately will have to have their own book.
I stayed with the binding process of my last few books, but got creative on the inside cover, where the jacket flaps meet the cover stock. A ribbon that ties in the colors from Florian Nicolle’s beautiful painting hide the flap entirely.
I had fun laying out the table of contents page, as always. Jumbled letters with various degrees of gray tones add an eye-catching effect.
A spine of bolded page numbers ties together the three “ribs” or sections of the book, which I did not title but are separated in the book with quotes. I’m really pleased with how it came out.
Finally, I was bold enough to try an experiment: this is my first chapbook with bookmark. Braided mauve embroidery thread is weighted by a few beads whose colors also match the cover art.
The carefully chosen color details and silver vellum loose leaf page all came together for an iridescent effect of pink and purple pastels against a minimalist, stark white. I’m very pleased with how it turned out and have gotten excellent feedback from the friends who received a copy.
Quote marking the first section of poems
This April I had the honor of being a featured poet at EWU’s 2014 GetLit! Festival in Spokane, Washington.
Every year, the festival is a regional literary highlight that draws writers from all genres. Prominent authors, poets, journalists, and more convene for a week’s worth of events, including Poetry Slams, readings, workshops, panels, and star events like the Pie & Whiskey Reading, where attendees eat free pie and throw back shots of free whiskey while listening to hysterical short stories and the occasional poem from insanely talented writers. Poet Kate Lebo organized the baking
Another special event of the festival is the Poetry Salon. I was honored to be invited as one of four poets hosted by the poet and beloved EWU professor Jonathan Johnson. The other panelists were Tod Marshall, Susan Rich, and Siobhan Scarry.
The Poetry Salon format was unique: Jonathan chose a theme, or took a theme suggestion from the audience. We poets then flipped through our work (published and unpublished) and read a poem that tied to the theme. Sometimes we played off themes in each other’s poems, which was both challenging and fun. I hadn’t done an on-the-spot reading before–especially with some unpublished (and unpolished) poems I’d recently written–but found the night to be a blast.
Poetry Salon: Jonathan, Tod, Susan, Siobhan, and myself
On March 26th, I had the honor of reading at my alma mater, Gonzaga University, as part of the Visiting Writers Series organized by professor and poet Tod Marshall.
Before the event, I met with English majors for a Q&A session that was more fun than I anticipated. Questions ranged from writing practice and craft to questions about my teaching philosophy. I was able to share a few entertaining stories from my time as a teacher.
The actual reading was, I believe, the best reading I’ve ever done. It was an emotional day for me personally given a recent loss, so I was touched when many of the faces in the crowd were familiar ones–friends and family who had come out to support me. A group of enthusiastic students also appeared to wish me good luck before the reading began. On the whole, a special night!
Spokane Poetry Slam has begun hosting a poetry workshop every month called “The Wordwright’s Workshop.” Isaac Grambo led the first, and I was asked to do the second workshop on connotations in poetry.
My thanks to the twenty or so people who came and participated wonderfully. After some hands-on poetry activities, we had a rich discussion of Sylvia Plath’s poem, “Nick and the Candlestick” that could have probably gone another thirty minutes had we not ended when we did. Thanks also to the Spokane Poetry Slam for inviting me!
Filed under poetry, teaching
On December 14th RiverLit, for whom I am the 2014 Poet in Residence, hosted an event called Anthology to raise awareness for the magazine as well as bring the literary community together in a celebration of words. The event featured Spokane’s finest, including Mark Anderson, Bruce Holbert, Shawn Vestal, and more.
My hope is that the event becomes an annual one, as it was incredible to connect with writers I knew of, but hadn’t met personally yet. The air was pulsing with talent.
Here is a video of the entire event. I am featured at about 1:23:30, reading three more recent poems.