Elizabeth Austen | KUOW News and Information

Elizabeth Austen

Producer

Year started with KUOW: 2001

Former 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.

Ways to Connect

Poet Suzanne Edison
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.”

Poet Suzanne Edison
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.

Portrait of poet Elissa Ball
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.

Hanford B Reactor
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.

Cover of Alice Derry's "Tremolo"
Red Hen Press

In "Fooling Around," poet and translator Alice Derry considers the implications of the artistic life — whether it is chosen, or thrust upon us.

Cover of Alice Derry's "Tremolo"
Red Hen Press

Many Pacific Northwest artists feel compelled to respond to the drama of the salmon fighting their way upstream to spawn. In "Finding the Poem," Port Angeles poet Alice Derry sees in the salmon's efforts a parallel with the way we learn to accommodate each other in a long marriage — and how often it is loss that teaches us, finally, how to do it.

KUOW Photo/Elizabeth Austen

Why do we make art? and Is it worth the personal cost? are two of the central questions in Christine Deavel's poetry collection "Woodnote" (Bear Star Press, 2011). Deavel is the co-owner of a poetry-only bookstore in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood, and a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop. "Woodnote" has even won the Washington State Book award for poetry. But even so, Deavel describes herself as someone who is almost constantly in crisis about why she, or anyone, writes. KUOW's Elizabeth Austen spoke with Christine Deavel about that ambivalence and how it plays out in her work.

Orcas Island poet Dorothy Trogdon
Blue Begonia Press

Your attitude toward rain and seemingly endless dark skies may be the best litmus test for whether you are a true Northwesterner. Do you resist or embrace the shift toward dark, wet days? In her poems “Under the Graphite Sky” and “Strange How You Stay,” Orcas Island poet Dorothy Trogdon gives us a uniquely Pacific Northwestern view of winter.

(Photo: Christine Deavel)

Christine Deavel reads excerpts from the title poem of “Woodnote” (Bear Star Press, 2011). Her collection won the 2012 Washington State Book Award for poetry from the Washington Center for the Book.

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