I will be reading next week at Shelton Timberland Library with poet friends Cathy Warner, Gary E. Bullock, and Dan Coffman (and maybe a few other Washington poets if it works out!). Cathy Warner and I have been friends since 2012 when we both found ourselves new to Bainbridge Island. While she and I have both moved about since then, our poetry friendship has stayed intact. Gary and Dan are new poetry friends who I met in a workshop class with poet Gary Copeland Lilley and whom I have not met in person due to COVID, but will now be able to meet in person! It is not hyperbole to say all my poet friends and connections are what got me through those long three years of isolation. Come and hear us read. Come celebrate our connection to poetry and each other.
I am happy to share that my poem “Extinction Dreams After Beachie Creek Fire” was selected by Judge Kelli Russell Agodon as the third place winner in the Oregon Poetry Association’s 2023 Spring Contest. I have admired Kelli’s poetry for some time and to be chosen by her in a blind reading is an honor. Here is what she has to say.
“Extinction Dreams After Beachie Creek Fire” is a smart and witty poem that lured me in with a dream of Brad Pitt as a “smoky kisser” only to surprise when I realized I was in a poem about the climate crisis. This is [a] long-armed poem that brings in dead fathers and pet beagles all while still addressing a larger issue—the speaker unsure whether they can open their windows due to smoke—this poem was a reminder of how we are living our lives as normal as we can through environmental collapse but entirely through imagery and even gratitude that “this morning your/barn still stands.” I was impressed with the poet’s ability to use pop culture and whimsy as a doorway to deeper and important discussions about the environment.
You can read my poem and the other winners of this contest here.
I will be reading at the North Bend Library on April 15 and I could not be more thrilled. I am honored to share this space with two other fine poets, Connie Soper and Kelly Terwilliger who also grew up in the Coos Bay area and like me were indelibly shaped by this place.
I will be reading with Poet Connie Soper on Sunday, February 12, at the Driftwood Public Library in Lincoln City. It is an honor to return to the Oregon Coast where I spent most of my childhood and share through poetry how I was influenced by this special place.
I am honored to be one of 47 poets in this anthology to raise funds for Ukrainian Refugees. My poem title was also used as the anthology title. The anthology is published by Black Spring Press Groupout of Westminster, London. 100% of the sales profits will go to the Sanctuary Foundation which is a charity that helps Ukrainian people to safety and homes in the UK.
If you would like to help refugees from Ukraine who are victims of this terrible war, please consider buying this anthology (and maybe another for a friend).
Today in Portland we are hunkered down with temperatures in the 20’s, sleet on the ground and freezing rain in the forecast. We are fortunate. We have food in the cupboards, the electricity is still on, and all my family are safe, unlike so many around the world, especially in Ukraine.
May you use this season to reflect on all you have and be grateful for it. May you find it in your heart this season to help others who are less fortunate. May you appreciate the fleeting moment we exist and make the time you inhabit this earth matter.
And find joy. In the birds at the feeder, in the neighbor’s soup, in a child’s laugh, in a beloved’s voice, in the music we make and the poems we write.
My wish for each of us is to create a world filled with peace, love, kindness, good health. Be the light someone can find in the darkness.
I am looking forward to participating in the first poetry contest held by Cirque. Feel free to Zoom with us at 7:00 pm, Pacific Time, on November 22 and listen to poets read their winning poems. In addition to the winners, other poets were selected from the submissions to be published in the next issue of Cirque and will also be reading. I will be part of that latter group and will read two or three poems. If you aren’t too swamped with holiday plans, I hope you can make it.
Poet Kristin Berger from Portland, Oregon, has recently released a new book of poems titled “EARTHWORK”, that I highly recommend. Berger is a masterful poet who writes with equal parts love and grief about changing landscapes—both literal and familial, and in doing so, gives us, her readers, a hand-hold to scramble our way to hope and keep us on the span when the water goes down.
I wrote this poem in 2015. Seven years later the problem of children being killed by guns in America has only escalated. How much mental illness in fact begins with living in a country where it does not feel safe to go to the grocery store, first grade, 3rd grade, 4th grade, high school, college, a movie, a doctor’s office, your place of employment, a concert?
As poets we write about what we feel and witness. As poets we record-keep the actions of a culture. As poets we express in a few words the horror and beauty of this world. May the horror move you to action. May you find a way to preserve the beauty of this world, so that our children have the chance to bear witness to it.
If you like poetry and haven’t been to a reading in person for awhile, join us at Kennedy School McMenamins on June 4th – 7:00 PM. Each reader will have about five minutes to showcase their work and celebrate publication in Cirque. Hope to see a few of you.
Last weekend I had the great joy to read my poem at the Hoffman Center for the Arts in Manzanita, Oregon, which is just up the road from where I learned to read and write at Garibaldi Grade School. To feel the trajectory of my writing come back to where it started 60 years ago was a homecoming of sorts, and the loss I felt as a child leaving the North Coast was replaced with the understanding that this place had never left me.
Judge Lana Ayers who selected my poem for the 2022 Neahkahnie Mountain Poetry Prize had this to say about “Birthday Fires”.
“Birthday Fires is a marvel of imagery and complexity in 9 couplets. The fires are birth, creativity, life. The poem reminds us that even as hardships and sorrows sap joy, we can still celebrate and make our own light, as in the final captivating image of the poem.”
This poem began after I read the line in a poem from Henri Cole: “I came from a place with a hole in it”. As poems are wont to do, it found its own story to tell, its own feelings to express.
Having learned to read and write at Garibaldi Grade School, I am thrilled my words have returned full circle to this part of the Northern Oregon Coast. I have fond memories of living at the Coast Guard Station in Garibaldi, learning to swim at the Nehalem pool, and having the ability to roam this small town with the freedom of an earlier era.
I am honored to have my poem “A Woman on 22nd and Killingsworth” published in the 8th edition of the North Coast Squid.
Please check out the link above for where to purchase this journal doing great work on the north Oregon coast. Isn’t the cover just lovely? I can’t wait to settle down with my morning coffee and check it out.
I have fond memories of my time as a child living on the north Oregon coast at the Tillamook Bay Coast Guard Station where my father was Chief. I learned to swim at the Nehalem Pool, had my tonsils and adenoids taken out in Wheeler, met my first best friend Marla, in Mrs. Jones first grade class at Garibaldi Grade School.
I can still remember my father pulling our car onto Highway 101 and heading south after yet another Coast Guard transfer. As I looked back at the base, and then out to the boathouse, I began to cry. It was the first time I had a feeling that I would only understand later. How a heart can attach to place.
To come back to this place through my words is both an honor and a reminder that we can go home, because any home we have been loved in, embeds itself into the core of our being.