Light. This is what has returned to us in WA state in recent weeks. Spring inching forward, trees changing before our eyes, the ground breaking to release new colors. I have been criss crossing the state holding poetry readings and writing with others sometimes in small groups, sometimes in larger gatherings. What I take away from each encounter is light. That is what poetry is in the end. Little moments of light. Even when the subject matter is difficult, when the diction harsh, when line breaks break hard and unexpectedly, it all comes from the pool of light inside each of us.
This post gives a partial snap shot of my travels since the start of the year and it ends with a link to my state wide project released a few days ago in time for National Poetry Month.
In January I read at the opening day of the Senate in Olympia. It was a crisp winter day. Beautiful. I received a second invitation to return in February and by then snow had arrived over Puget Sound and alas I could not make the second trip.
My next trip was to Port Angeles – Kate Reavey at Peninsula College made my visit possible. I loved rolling along the long ribbons of two way roads flanked by evergreens that go up and down, on and on, in Kitsap county as I made my way north toward Jefferson County. Next I visited Tacoma to serve as a judge for the regional competition of Poetry OutLoud. What an honor that was! The students – all of them high school age – delivered poems that made me tear up, laugh, rejoice in the verve and delivery of the poems they chose.
On the first of April in a most fitting turn for National Poetry Month I visited Bellevue Children’s Academy in the morning and in the afternoon Puget Sound University in Tacoma. I read with the wonderful Glenna Cook who read masterfully from her book Thesholds, which was a 2018 WA State Book Award finalist in the Poetry Division.
In March I drove down from Seattle to the Lower Columbia Valley College in Longview where I held a workshop and held a reading at the public Library. From there I crossed the state to visit Pend Oreille County where thanks to Joyce Weir and the folks at Create in Newport, who organized my time there I did readings in Cusk, Newport, Metaline Falls and Deer Park (technically Spokane County). The librarian at Metaline Falls, Kathleen Huffman, had prepared a lovely table for us to have fellowship after the reading. It is from this feast that the photo at the top of this post is taken.
I write these lines from Spokane where I am to take part in the fantastic week long Get Lit! festival. Before arriving here I spent time in Ellensburg for the spectacular three day event called Inland Poetry Prowl. I visited Olympia and South Puget Sound College then travelled south to Vancouver for a wonderful reading with Christopher and Toni Luna and community poets at the Vancouver Public Library. Redmond, Seattle, Bellevue came next. In Bellevue I led a workshop at the public library where two girls loved the poems they wrote so much they decided to write an extra copy so that they could walk away with each other’s poems! Walking home with light in their pockets.
Here is a link to Washington Poetic Routes – Please tell others about it or submit a poem yourself. There are 26 poems on this map now, when I finish my term I want the map to have dozens and dozens more.