I get to do my first live poetry reading since the start of the pandemic! It’ll be with Dayna Patterson and Allie Spikes, members of Madrona Writers (one of my workshop groups), at SoulFood Poetry Night in Redmond, WA, 6:00 p.m.
SoulFood Poetry Night, hosted by Michael Dylan Welch, is a long-running reading series attracting a warm, engaged community of poets and poetry lovers. I’ve had the pleasure of reading there twice in the past, and am looking forward to doing so again with my groupmates on January 19th!
I’m grateful to the editors & staff of all these journals for including my work and curating such lovely issues. And I have to say: it’s still a marvel to me to find my poems surrounded by the work of writers I’ve admired for many years–a wonder to see my words placed in conversation with theirs.
In 2023, I look forward to new print issues of RHINO Poetry and Iron Horse Literary Review that will contain my poems. I’m also excited for the April release of the anthology Between Paradise and Earth: Eve Poems from Orison Books, which includes a poem from Impossible Lessons. The anthology is open for pre-orders if you’d like to reserve a copy and help out the press!
You may remember my being commissioned, back in 2018, to write the libretto for a cantata reframing the mythical Sirens by Seattle composer Aaron Grad. Our collaboration resulted in Honey-sweet we sing for you, an eleven-minute cantata for soprano, flute, and harpsichord. The cantata premiered in March 2019 with Burning River Baroque of Cleveland as part of its program “The Other Side of the Story: Untold Perspectives on Familiar Tales.” The performance by Seattle Baroque Orchestra, originally scheduled for spring 2020, was delayed by the pandemic, so we made a video series featuring snippets and adaptations of the planned performances, along with performer interviews, for audiences to view online.
Finally, with the arts reopened, I’m thrilled to say that the full program of “For All Our Sisters” will be performed at Town Hall Seattle on Sunday, June 12th, 2:00 p.m. The hour-long program will consist of works reinterpreting the stories of mythical women–Syrinx, Semele, and the Sirens–for the #MeToo era. It melds original poems by former Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna and by me, dance by Mylvia Pacheco, and performances for soprano and ensemble of Michel Pignolet de Montéclair’s 1713 Pan et Syrinx, Élisabeth Jacquet de la Guerre’s 1715 Semelé, Bach’s Sarabande (for Semele), and Aaron Grad’s Honey-sweet we sing for you. You can read more here about the performers and program, and detailed program notes here by Dr. Paula Maust of Burning River Baroque.
Ticket options are for the live performance on June 12, and for the virtual performance available online starting Saturday, June 18th, 7 p.m. PST. I hope whether you’re near or far, you can join us for this program!
My gratitude for two pieces published in journals recently:
My essay “Spiderwebs and Thimbleberries” in the current print issue of Indiana Review. This piece weaves reflections on walking, eco-anxiety prompted by Pacific Northwest drought, and my experiences as a prospective juror in a federal trial in Seattle. Plus birds!
My poem “Placebo Effect,” reprinted from my collection Impossible Lessons in the online journal Braided Way:
So I go to the doctor of philosophy for my annual metaphysical. He asks me the usual questions: Any irregularity with your epistemology? Are the meds still helping with those intermittent bouts of doubt? I tell him Yes, but that recently it has taken on a hyper-Cartesian tinge, going beyond the use of “not” as a helpful tool for testing a suspect reality. It has progressed to a troublesome tendency toward generalized negation, a habit of rejecting every supposition. The doc says, Then we’d better increase your dosage to get this under control. With your phenomenological pressure so elevated, I think you are at risk of rupture. Well, I say, that may be, but how would you know? He’s good, that doc. He comes right back with How do you know that you’re not? So we agree I’ll try a higher dose. But don’t go thinking I am going to believe that it will work.
Beady unblinking eyes, some red and some white, stare out from my phone charger, coffee maker, speakers, PC, printer, and elsewhere. The average U.S. home has about 40 electronic devices draining power, accounting for around 10 percent of one’s energy bill. Some call this leaking electricity or vampire energy.
Things I used to get done on a regular basis now seem to take forever. I never used to squeak right up against deadlines, beg out of regular obligations, fail to answer necessary texts, forget things like sympathy cards. Never, ever. But I have the last few years, excoriating myself all the while.
I’m delighted to participate in a multi-author reading of this beautiful new anthology, edited by Carla Shaffer, of poetry of the winter and summer solstices–two very distinctive times of year here in the Pacific Northwest. Thank you sincerely, Carla, for including my work in this beautiful book!
Please join us for the third, fourth, and fifth rounds of SpeakEasy 27: A Spiritual Thread, featuring Dayna Patterson, Susan Alexander, Luther Allen, Bruce Beasley, and me. Round 3 will take place this Saturday evening, January 16th, 2021, at 7:00 p.m. PST. To get the Zoom link, all you need to do is send an email to email@example.com, and you’ll receive an email reply with the sign-in info.
Luther Allen previews this installment by saying, “On Saturday night each of the five poets . . . will read one poem and discuss how it links to previous poems. There will also be a short group discussion, and question and answer session with listeners. We anticipate the program will last about an hour. This round will be particularly interesting because it was written as the Covid pandemic started to impact our lives, and its injection into the writing process was dramatic.“
For more details, and to view video recordings of the first two rounds, please go to Luther’s SpeakEasy page. Hope to see you for round 3, and on the following dates for rounds 4 and 5:
Round #4: Saturday, February 6 (7 p.m. PST) Round #5: Saturday, February 27 (7 p.m. PST)
Please join us on Zoom this Saturday, Nov. 14, 7 p.m. PST for (virtual) SpeakEasy 27: A Spiritual Thread! Dayna Patterson, Susan Alexander, Luther Allen, Bruce Beasley, and I will read and talk about our series of linked “String Theory” poems, written sequentially in five cycles this past year. We’ll present and discuss the first five poems this coming Saturday, November 14th, and the second cycle in December (TBA).
Check out the details at The Poetry Department. To participate, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org, and you’ll receive a reply with sign-in info. Hope to see you there!
UPDATE 7/24: The videos I made about the cantata are now live on the Early Music Seattle “For All Our Sisters” Performances page. Click on my photo to view the hour-long interview with Claudia Castro-Luna and me, and click on the Sirens painting below it to view the three-minute video of me describing my approach to the Sirens myth in writing the libretto.
Thanks, too, to Early Music Seattle for featuring me in their weekly Clef Notes series. Scroll halfway down to “This Week’s Selections” to see their very kind words about my poetry and a gathering of links to my work available online.
I have many thanks to pass along to journal editors, amid the pandemic and heavy griefs of this spring, for bright spots of cheer and good publication news. Back in March, Terrain.org published my poem “the summer the sun hid”as part of its Letters to America series. Cherry Tree included my poem “Narcissus in Love,” about you-know-who enamored of his own reflection, in its annual issue. EcoTheo Review published my poem “Mother Earth’s Easter Address” in both its print and online issues.
And I found a wonderful home in the journal Cave Wall for “Landscape with Unsettled Figures,” the concluding poem in one of my full-length manuscripts. I’ve been submitting poems to Cave Wall for over eleven years; it’s one of my “dream” journals, featuring superb poems and beautiful wood-block prints. Not only did editor Rhett Iseman Trull select it to publish in this spring’s issue; she also, astonishingly, nominated it for a Pushcart Prize and a Best New Poets award. Much gratitude to all these editors for supporting my poetry in these ways.
[UPDATE: “Landscape with Unsettled Figures” has also been picked up for Verse Daily! Click on “Archives” to find my poem posted on June 15, 2020. My sincere thanks to editor J.P. Dancing Bear for choosing it!]