Elizabeth Austen

Producer, The Record

Washington State Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen has been interviewing poets and producing poetry segments for KUOW since 2001. She began as an intern while in graduate school for an MFA in creative writing (poetry) at Antioch University, Los Angeles. Once she discovered the joy of blending her early background as an actor and director (Book–It Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Festival) with her passion for poetry as a spoken art form, she was hooked. She's been producing poetry for radio audiences ever since.

Her collection, "Every Dress a Decision" (Blue Begonia Press, 2011), was a finalist for the 2012 Washington State Book Award in poetry. She is also the author of two poetry chapbooks, "The Girl Who Goes Alone" (Floating Bridge Press, 2010) and "Where Currents Meet," winner of the Toadlily Press Chapbook Award and part of the quartet "Sightline," published in 2010.

Elizabeth's poems have been featured on Garrison Keillor's Writer's Almanac and online at Verse Daily, the Bellingham Review and DMQ Review.  You'll find Elizabeth's poems in anthologies including "What to Read in the Rain" and "Poets Against the War" and in literary journals.

She's performed at venues including Poets House in New York City, The Loft in Minneapolis, the Austin ArtSpark Festival, and locally at the Richard Hugo House Literary Series, Bumbershoot, and the Seattle and Skagit River Poetry Festivals. An audio CD, "skin prayers," featuring 26 original poems recorded with a live audience in the KUOW studios, is available on her website, www.elizabethausten.org.

Elizabeth was the 2007 Roadshow poet, bringing poetry to underserved rural communities in Washington state under the auspices of the Washington State Arts Commission, Humanities Washington, and the Washington Poets Association.  She is committed to fostering a broader understanding and appreciation of the literary arts in general and poetry in particular. She teaches frequently at Richard Hugo House, a literary arts center in Seattle, and she has been a visiting artist for western Washington school districts and colleges.

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Poetry
1:45 pm
Tue June 11, 2013

Inside A Toddler's Brain: "Epiphanette"

Poet Dennis Caswell.
Credit Jack Straw Productions/Sherwin Eng

In "Epiphanette," Woodinville poet Dennis Caswell speculates on what happens to the "carefree cognitive tumbleweed" of his baby daughter's mind when it "is struck by the SUV of enlightenment" in the form of a little epiphany.

Already she baby-knows:
A dance you learn; the dancer you're stuck to.
                                          from "Epiphanette"

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Poetry
8:48 am
Mon June 3, 2013

Jourdan Keith's "Traveling Seeds"

Poet, storyteller and environmental activist Jourdan Keith
Credit Brian McGuigan

Strange fruit has black seeds. Papaya pearls dropping tropics in our mouths.

from "Traveling Seeds"

Contemplating the generative power of papaya seeds led writer Jourdan Keith to write a parable about the African diaspora. Her story-poem "Traveling Seeds" is a hybrid of African folktales, Native American legend, Japanese poetic forms and also pays homage to the Harlem Renaissance.

Based in Seattle, Jourdan Keith is a poet, storyteller and environmental activist. She served as the Seattle Public Library's first Naturalist-in-Residence and is a Seattle Poet Populist Emerita.

Her essay, "Human Estuaries," which is based on her 2011 TEDxRainier talk, appeared in YES! Magazine.

She is the founder and director of Urban Wilderness Project, "providing storytelling, environmental education and wilderness service learning programs rooted in social change."

She was recorded in the KUOW Studios May 10, 2013.

Poetry
9:00 am
Tue May 21, 2013

Marjorie Manwaring's "Letter From Zelda"

Writer Zelda Fitzgerald
Credit WikiMedia

In "Letter from Zelda," poet Marjorie Manwaring creates an imaginary letter to F. Scott Fitzgerald, written by his wife Zelda from her room in a mental hospital.

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Poetry
11:56 am
Wed May 15, 2013

Poet Colleen McElroy On "Crossing Oceans"

Author Colleen McElroy
Credit Ingrid Pape-Sheldon

One of the most persistent stories about America — that it was made by immigrants fleeing "the old country" — is also one of the most incomplete. And since stories shape our perception of reality, poet Colleen McElroy is intent on telling another aspect of America's story in "Crossing Oceans."  The poem appears in her most recent collection "Here I Throw Down My Heart" (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012).

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Poetry
1:42 pm
Wed May 8, 2013

"Letter To Mick Jagger From The St. Paul Chapter Of The Daughters Of Norway"

Poet Marjorie Manwaring
Credit Susan Filkins

The Woodstock generation may be aging, but don't try to tell them they're not still cool. Poet Marjorie Manwaring's "Letter to Mick Jagger from the St. Paul Chapter of the Daughters of Norway" captures the dissonance between how we feel inside, and how we may appear to others.

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Poetry
3:22 pm
Tue April 16, 2013

Karen Finneyfrock's Monstrous Spring

Poet and novelist Karen Finneyfrock.
Credit Photo Credit/Inti St. Clair

A  Metro bus ride inspires poet, novelist and teaching artist Karen Finneyfrock to find a delightfully surprising personification for Northwest springtime in her poem "Monster."

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Poetry
8:48 am
Wed April 10, 2013

Annette Spaulding-Convy's "Bonsai Nun"

Annette Spaulding-Convy's debut collection draws on the five years she spent as a Dominican nun.
Credit University of Arkansas Press

As a former Dominican nun in the Roman Catholic Church, Annette Spaulding-Convy is intimately aware of the complex messages the institution sends about women's bodies. Her poem "Bonsai Nun" finds an apt metaphor in the severe pruning required to make a tree fit the aesthetic and spiritual ideal.

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Poetry
2:44 pm
Tue April 2, 2013

Marjorie Manwaring Offers A Poem Of Second Chances

'Search for a Velvet-Lined Cape' from Mayapple Press
Credit Mayapple Press

As spring edges out winter and previously bare tree limbs are suddenly effusive with blossoms, there's a sense that almost anything -- or anyone -- deserves a second chance. In her poem "A Quiet," poet Marjorie Manwaring meditates on alternative endings and the possibility of redemption.

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Poetry
2:54 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

Poet Colleen McElroy On Choosing "What Stays Here"

Author Colleen McElroy.
Credit Photo Credit/Ingrid Papp-Sheldon

In her poem "What Stays Here," Colleen McElroy imagines life as a female soldier who must choose between loyalty to herself, and loyalty to a military code that says "keep quiet" and "get along." Like many of the poems in McElroy's ninth collection, "Here I Throw Down My Heart," (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) the poem awakens us to voices and stories we might otherwise never hear with such intimacy and power.

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Poetry
8:16 am
Tue March 12, 2013

Poet Carolyne Wright's "Ghazal For Emilie Parker"

Poet Carolyne Wright.
Credit Photo Credit/Erik Rucker

It can be hard to know how to respond to tragedies on the scale of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. We want to do something, but what?

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Poetry
8:00 am
Wed February 13, 2013

Poet Alice Derry On Mourning A Complicated Relationship

Port Angeles poet Alice Derry's fourth collection is 'Tremolo.'
Credit Red Hen Press

Mourning begins in a kind of thick non-seeing,
only later clarified, gradually lightening,
until we recognize what our lives must carry.

So begins "The Planet Closest To Us," Alice Derry's frank and moving poem about grieving the loss of someone who it was not always easy to love -- her mother. Derry reads her poem, and talks about the unexpected gift in her mother's passing.

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Poetry
5:00 pm
Wed January 30, 2013

A Poet's View On Parenting And Chronic Illness

Poet Suzanne Edison
Credit Seedison.com

Poet Suzanne Edison knows the ups and downs of chronic illness too well. Her daughter has juvenile myositis, a rare autoimmune disorder. Today she reads two poems about the way her child’s illness affects her parenting: “Betrayal” and “Bloodwork.”

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Poetry
5:00 pm
Tue January 29, 2013

Poet Suzanne Edison On Parenting A Chronically Ill Child

Poet Suzanne Edison
Credit Seedison Designs

Learning that your child has a serious, chronic illness is like falling off a cliff, without knowing how — or if — your feet will ever find the ground again, says poet Suzanne Edison.

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Poetry
9:00 am
Wed January 2, 2013

Elissa Ball In Praise Of "Analog Love"

Performance poet Elissa Ball
Credit Olivia McCausland

Performance poet Elissa Ball comes from the  ethos of Riot Grrrl and punk.  She distributed her poems via do-it-yourself zines beginning in her early teen years. Her poem "Analog Love" offers exuberant praise for the pre-digital sensual world.

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Poetry
11:34 am
Tue January 1, 2013

Kathleen Flenniken On Coming To Terms With Hanford

B Reactor at the Hanford nuclear site.
Credit Wikimedia

In childhood, our allegiances, our loves, are often black and white, simplistic. One of the difficult parts of becoming an adult is reconciling ourselves to the failings and flaws in what we have loved and admired. Sometimes the task involves recognizing our own complicity in those failings.

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