The free event, on Saturday, March 2, 2019, 7:00pm, at the Mount Baker Theatre Encore Room in Bellingham, Washington, will feature a special guest appearance by Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna along with a selection of strong and relevant poetry from Luther Allen, Anita K. Boyle, Sarah Brownsberger, Nancy Canyon, Linda Conroy, Roger Gilman, Rick Hermann, Lois Holub, Paul Hunter, Georgia Johnson, Peter Messinger, Jeffrey Morgan, Kevin Murphy, Tim Pilgrim, Rena Priest, CJ Prince, Janette Rosebrook, Jim Schmotzer, Carla Shafer, Carey Taylor, Gary Wade, and Leslie Wharton. You are invited to join the audience for a meaningful evening of words.
We all read together in January at Mother Foucault’s Bookshop where I had the opportunity to hear Melissa read from her new chapbook-RUPTURE, LIGHT.
RUPTURE, LIGHT is a book filled with poems that speak both to the personal and universal. The poems in this collection take us on a journey through the worlds of pregnancy, children, and marriage, and with this poet’s keen eye, helps us see both the transitory nature of the domestic scenes and their continued ability for rebirth: It turns out life is a will/an overfed bulb/that can be forced to bloom again/and again.
Hope is never forsaken in these poems, but as a keen observer the poet lets us know that all we love is leaving us: In the graveyard,/the snow softens the stones/while we walk, idle talk about how/we’ll be buried//You want to live forever/in the canyon we love,/your skin and bone/become sugar pine/and chaparral.
Reeser is a poet who tells us head on: there is one grief/inside of everything. And in the end, this ability to not shy away, is the very thing that allows the love of all she holds dear, to be gathered close with exquisite care, where there is nothing left to do but take it/tender in my hands,/try to soothe/its hunger.
I highly recommend you put RUPTURE, LIGHTon your poetry reading list and if you are in Portland catch Melissa reading at Cardinal Club on March 29th/5:30-6:30 PM.
In these dark long days I have been thinking of the people I and others have lost as we enter this holiday season. I think of my Aunt Trudy when I hang her home-made Christmas ornaments on my tree.
I think of my grandfather when I search the night sky for Santa and his sleigh and my grandmother who played board games with me on Christmas morning.
I think of my step-mother and her glorious tree.
I think of friends and family who have lost husbands, wives, children, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, grandparents and friends— and my wish for each and everyone of us is that we take care of each other this holiday season.
May we be kind. May we be present. May we help each other as best we can and may we not forget those who have moved into the light of a new existence.
As I have been reflecting this month, I kept thinking about a Facebook post from a woman who lost her husband this past year. She posted a picture of a garland of gingerbread men they had made together last Christmas. Acknowledgement of both her loss and her love for this man.
When I was in my 20’s, I shared a number of Christmas celebrations with this woman and her husband and their extended family. And in that loving family I obtained through marriage, I learned my first grown-up lessons about unconditional love and the importance of celebrating each other and the season.
And as happens with me, a poem began to emerge from these reflections that I am now sharing with you. May you all find peace and love as we enter a new year.
Like blackberry brambles the soul has seasons
when its leaves grow scarce.
Even then, a smallish body will find shelter there,
deer mouse chittering, or the tiny wren, piping its song.
For what, if not that singing, does the soul dare
a new season’s greening?
Hello friends. It has been awhile since I posted here and I’ve missed my days of scheduled writing and updates. But truth be told, I have been taking care of myself in what has been a period of jackhammer days, both literally and figuratively.
As many of you know, I moved back to Portland last summer and in an either brilliant or insane move purchased a 1947 home which was in need of some major renovations. Today this blog is being written from my new office. Outside my office window my contractor is jackhammering away the basement foundation in order to install an egress window. It is noisy. It is dirty. I am hoping the house does not collapse and the new earthquake retrofit holds. In the meantime, I am visualizing a beautiful finished basement that is light-filled and has a second bathroom.
Also during this time, a family member died, another family member had colon-cancer surgery, and an adult child moved back home. I had something die in the chimney and for a week flies flew out of the fireplace like bats from under the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin.
And while I haven’t been writing much, I did travel to Iceland and Ireland, have been invited to poetry readings to read from my new book, and I organized a poetry event in the small town where I graduated from high school and invited Finnish poet Gary Anderson to come read with me.
Last week I hiked seven miles up the Salmon River trail on the southwestern flank of Mt. Hood with old friends, and I’ve been reading and cooking more than usual—all things that anchor me during this fallow writing port-of-call.
So while my world is being disassembled and reconstructed I have complete faith the one thing that will remain intact (even if it is silent for now) is my poetry, because I can feel the seeds beginning to germinate, and a gentle push of green carrying a word or a line up through the dark with a story to tell.
But for now I am reading the poetry of Bethany Reid, who is a poet friend from Edmonds, Washington. Her new collection Body My House(Goldfish Press Seattle) is a collection that as author Priscilla Long so aptly conveys: are poems to read and reread, and to savor. I recommend you check her out.
My next gig is in Portland at “Another Read Through” on November 29th— a lovely neighborhood book store in North Portland. I will be reading with two of my favorite poets Christianne Balk and Kristin Berger, and we would love to have you come down and hear us read.
As I have mentioned before, my new book of poetry The Lure of Impermanence came out in July. I included in this collection a poem called 9 to 5. I wrote this poem when the #MeToo movement had just begun its groundswell.
Today, Bill Cosby was sentenced to 3 to 10 years in jail for sexual assault and Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh is currently being scrutinized for a number of behaviors with women that are at best disturbing. And these are just a few of so, so many more stories just like them.
I have lost confidence in the ability of the news to report in any unbiased manner and therefore I am more often than not left to my own judgment and experience by which to consider stories reported in the media.
And what my experience considers is that I personally know girls and women who have been abused by boyfriends, family members and spouses.
What I do know is that I was carried to a bedroom by a man who was much older than me when I was barely of legal age and stoned on marijuana. A man who held a position of respect in the community.
What I do know is I am shaking as I write that last sentence because I recall that night as vividly as if it were today. Only it wasn’t today. It was 45 years ago.
What I do know is that I told no one. What I do know is that I was ashamed.
What I do know is that I am someone’s mother, wife, daughter and friend and none of them knew. What I do know is I am not sure I want them to know now.
What I do know is that all women deserve the simple right to be respected and have control of what happens to her body and if I could ask anything of you it would be to consider the women you love. Consider their experience. Because it is possible that the people who love her most, don’t know the dark places she has been afraid to shed the light on. Because to do so is to expose herself to being rejected, silenced, not believed or worst yet blamed.
And until history proves it unnecessary, may we all slash, slash, slash, this roughshod blazing path.