Syrinx, Semele, and the Sirens: Reframing Myths “For All Our Sisters” with Seattle Early Music– Onstage at Last

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!

Recent Publications

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!

Fall 2021/Winter 2022 Issue

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.

Steadily Drained

A cogent and energetic summation of the climate crisis, and what to do about it, by Laura Grace Weldon.

Laura Grace Weldon

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.

Adding up U.S. households, all this leaking energy totals the output of 26 power plants. This in a time when people in the U.S. use more electricity, per capita, than nearly anywhere else in the world. 

Sometimes I cancel a walk with a friend…

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Please Join Us! “Solstice: Light & Dark of the Salish Sea” Reading Sunday, April 11, 7pm

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!

J.I. Kleinberg describes the event here:

Village Books in Bellingham is hosting the event on Zoom: . Please click through to register, and we hope to see you there!

Upcoming Installments of SpeakEasy 27: “A Spiritual Thread”

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, 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 livesand 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)

SpeakEasy 27: Sat., 11/14/20, 7pm 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, and you’ll receive a reply with sign-in info. Hope to see you there!

“Honey-Sweet We Sing for You”: A Poetic Collaboration (My Guest Post at The Poetry Department)

Please check out my guest post at J.I. Kleinberg’s blog, The Poetry Department, about my collaboration with Seattle composer Aaron Grad on our cantata reinterpreting the Sirens myth for the Early Music Seattle program “For All Our Sisters”! Click here:  “Honey-Sweet We Sing for You”: A Poetic Collaboration.

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.

Gratitude for Good Things in Spring 2020

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, 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!]

I wish safety and good health to you and all your loved ones. If you can, will you join me in making donations to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, the American Civil Liberties Union, Black Lives Matter Global Network, or community bail fund of your choice to support the fight for human rights in America?

Hello Again!

It’s been over a year. A YEAR! since I last updated. Thank you for sticking with me during my long blog silence.

I have several pieces of happy writing news to share. This past year, I had poems appear in Clover, Cider Press Review, Menacing Hedge, and Under a Warm Green Linden. The latter also selected my poem “Narcissus on the Hunt” to a produce as a broadside print. All proceeds from sales of the broadside support Green Linden Press’s tree-planting mission! Thank you, Editor-in-Chief Christopher Nelson, for continuing to believe in and feature my work.

These publications are all poems are from my manuscript of resistance poems, “The Tongue of Narcissus,” in which I use family history and Ovidian myth to engage the ongoing political crisis in psychological, esthetic, and ecological terms. This manuscript was again a finalist for last year’s Brittingham and Felix Pollak Prizes for Poetry at the University of Wisconsin Press, and it’s now under submission there a third time. (Let’s hope that’s a charm!) I’m especially pleased that the lead poem, “How to Walk Like a Quadruped” (inspired by Ada Limón’s amazing poem “How to Triumph Like a Girl”), has found a good home at Cider Press Review–much gratitude to Editor-in-Chief Caron Andregg and Poetry Editor Emerita Ruth Foley!

As well, a poem and a flash essay of mine were selected for publication in the anthology For Love of Orcas, sales of which benefit the SeaDoc Society in its efforts to restore the Southern Resident Killer Whales and their Salish Sea habitat. My thanks to co-editors Andrew Shattuck McBride and Jill McCabe Johnson for including my work. If you’re in the Seattle area tomorrow (11/12/19), catch a reading and panel discussion about For Love of Orcas at Hugo House at 7:00 p.m.!

My first essay to be published in a journal appeared online in Gulf Coast this past winter. “Feathers”–about travel anxiety, a 14th-century mural of St. Christopher in a 12th-century church, and taking our son on a long-distance walking trip through the English countryside–received an honorable mention in the 2017 Gulf Coast Prize for Nonfiction. Much gratitude to the editors and to judge Diane Roberts for selecting my essay.

Also, I had a record summer for journal acceptances. I received news that seven of my poems have been selected for publication this coming year in Cherry Tree,, and EcoTheo! As well, the final poem in my “Tongue of Narcissus” manuscript is going to appear in Cave Wall, one of my dream journals, to which I’ve been submitting poems (unsuccessfully) for many years. Plus, Seattle-based Floating Bridge Press named my chapbook manuscript a semi-finalist and has selected two poems for upcoming publication in its journal, Pontoon Poetry.

Especially amid the dire ecological and political news, I’m very grateful for these bright spots of creativity and connection in the writing world.

I hope things are well with you. Thanks for reading!

SpeakEasy 22 on October 20!

Bellingham & Whatcom County, please join us at Mt. Baker Theater’s Encore Room for SpeakEasy 22, “Animal Beast Creature”: SpeakEasy22
Many thanks to SpeakEasy curators J.I. Kleinberg and Luther Allen for inviting me to participate!