There is magic in beginnings. The anticipation of what might be and the force behind the thought that generated the action conjure excitement to each start we endeavor no matter how small. February has been a month of beginnings for me. I started a year-long creative residency at the Seattle School of Visual Concepts where I have been invited to discover everything related to letterpress printing and design. And of course the big beginning happened at the Passing of the Laurels ceremony on January 31st when I took over as WA State Poet Laureate from the amazing Tod Marshall.
The Monday after the Passing of the Laurels I was the featured reader at Easy Speak at Jude’s Old Town in Seattle’s Rainier Valley organized by Paul Nelson – (http://easyspeakseattle.com) I was my first time at this small but mighty local restaurant and after the fine evening I have every intention of returning. A good crowd gathered that Monday evening and between servings of gumbo and libations we enjoyed a range of poetic expression and thematic concerns.
The following Sunday I had the privilege to read at the African-Americans’ Writers Alliance ongoing monthly series at the Columbia City Library (http://www.aawa-seattle.com) Those of us gathered there remembered that Tod Marshall had also read there at the beginning of his term. I was in the audience two years ago and was so pleased, along with everyone else, at how personable and inclusive his presentation was.
Both of these events use a similar format: a featured poet is followed by an open mic. On the Sunday I attended the Columbia Library more than twenty people shared their poetry and stories. At the Easy Speak the number was similar and it included someone who gave a beautiful plaintive rendition with his bugle. It was fantastic.
Events like this, which happen all across our state, showcase the best of ourselves in that as poets we come to share art and as citizens we convene in a positive spirit, with openness in our hearts. We gather to celebrate beauty and in so doing, grow communities that affirm tolerance and promote diversity and inclusion.
I know the two events I mention here augur many similar others and look forward to discovering communities large and small all over Washington State.