poetry | KUOW News and Information

poetry

Brian Weiss

Six years ago Seattle poet Tara Hardy was blindsided by a mysterious chronic illness. It nearly killed her. She talks with KUOW's Elizabeth Austen about what it was like to live with that mystery, what changed once the disease had a name, and why she believes we're all living with a diagnosis of "human frailty."

Seattle poet Azura Tyabji has been writing poetry since eighth grade. Her big dream is to publish a book.
KUOW Photo/Megan Farmer

When Azura Tyabji stepped up to the microphone at a community forum this spring, most of the audience members had no idea what to expect.

Courtesy of Libby Lewis Photography

Yes, poetry month is over. But how about some more poetry anyway?

We’ve collected readings from the Seattle Arts & Lectures poetry series over the last two months. You’ll hear the work of poets Ellen Bass, Ross Gay and Alice Notley. Each spoke at Seattle’s McCaw Hall.

Poet Jane Wong
Courtesy of Helene Christensen

Bill Radke and KUOW poetry correspondent Elizabeth Austen discuss an excerpt of "Pastoral Power," a sprawling, image-driven poem by local poet Jane Wong. The poem is rooted in a trip Wong took as a teenager to the rural village in southern China where her mother grew up. 

'I Will Not Ask The System Politely To Dismantle Itself'

May 3, 2017

Troy Osaki is on the verge of graduating law school. But the law, he says, is not enough. What about poetry?

Two short poems from Seattle's juvenile jail

May 1, 2017
A poem read by a teen reader at King County Juvenile Detention in Seattle. The reader, a teen girl, had memorized it and therefore didn't read from the page.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

CHICAGO ON THE SOUTH SIDE

By a young man in juvenile detention, age 15

Everybody should know
that when I was younger
I was at school one day,
I went straight from lunch to recess.
My brother was driving down the street.
Somebody was shooting at his car.
The police said that one of the bullets
went through the window and
hit him in the back of his head.

He lost control of his car
and crashed into the monkey bars.

A poem read by a teen reader at King County Juvenile Detention in Seattle. The reader, a teen girl, had memorized it and therefore didn't read from the page.
KUOW Photo/Isolde Raftery

The girl had been raped as a child.

Years later, she was in juvenile detention in Seattle, telling her story to Richard Gold, who was helping her write a poem.

Seattle poet Quenton Baker and Spokane high school student Ben Read have poems published in a new anthology titled 'WA 129.'
Photos courtesy of Helen Peppe and Sophie Carter

Each week during National Poetry Month, we're featuring works by Pacific Northwest poets, curated  by KUOW's Elizabeth Austen. Most are drawn from the new anthology "WA 129." 

Courtesy of Mosaic Voices

Human beings have depended on mythology since the beginning of our existence. Myths told us how the world began, how to understand its trials and wonders, and how it might end.

Yet now, when many of us believe something is not true, we call it a myth. What happened?

Willow Books

Elizabeth Austen and Bill Radke discuss "Self-Portrait," a poetic "selfie" by Seattle poet and educator Quenton Baker. The poem is part of Baker's first full-length collection, "This Glittering Republic." 

A Seattle native, Baker was awarded the 2016 James W. Ray Venture Project Award from Artist Trust. He's a founder of the anti-racism training and consulting group Moral Choice.

Poet Hamda Yusuf says Somali poetry 'is the poetry that you have to hear. And you have to hear it from the person who wrote it.'
Courtesy of Hamda Yusuf

When Hamda Yusuf was growing up in West Seattle, her mom used to recite original poems for her children in the car.

"I remember my dad telling me Somalia is the nation of poets and I always knew this to be true... because I know nobody else's mom is writing them poems," Yusuf said. 

Claudia Castro Luna

Bill Radke and Elizabeth Austen mark International Women's Day with a conversation about a poem that echoes across 150 years of activism.

Seattle civic poet Claudia Castro Luna performs Sojourner Truth's "Ain't I A Woman?" It's based on a speech Truth gave at a women's rights convention in 1851. Castro Luna responds with a poem of her own reflecting her perspective as an immigrant from El Salvador in "Am I Not An Immigrant?"  


Tod Marshall, Washington state poet laureate
Amy Sinisterra

Washington state poet laureate Tod Marshall has just completed the first half of his two-year term. KUOW's Elizabeth Austen (Marshall's predecessor in the role) checks in with him about what it's like to travel the state talking poetry in a time of political upheaval.

Marshall reads a brand-new, as-yet-untitled poem that wrestles with, among other things, a persistent double-standard of accountability.

Chin Music Press

Bill Radke talks with KUOW poetry correspondent Elizabeth Austen about the book, "Are You An Echo? The Lost Poetry Of Misuzu Kaneko," illustrated by Toshikado Hajiri with narrative and translation by David Jacobson, Sally Ito and Michiko Tsuboi. 

This is the official poem of 2016

Dec 31, 2016

This has been a tough year.

All sorts of news publications have even asked if it was the “Worst Year Ever.”

It’s been the year of a contentious US election season. The year of Brexit. The year of terrorist attacks all over the world.

Courtesy of James Rudy

Bill Radke talks with former Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth about the life and work of writer Lucia Perillo, who died October 16 at her home in Olympia at the age of 58.  

Poet Rachel Zucker
Courtesy of Rachel Zucker

Several years ago, poet Rachel Zucker was asked to write a lecture about poetry. That process led her, in part, to question what it is that poets do — and why.

She recently presented that lecture, “The Poetics of Wrongness,” as part of the Seattle Arts & Lectures Poetry Series.

Poet Lucia Perillo
Courtesy of James Rudy

The accolade "local treasure" is not easily awarded. Poet Lucia Perillo earned that and many other awards, including a MacArthur Genius Grant. 

Perillo died in Olympia on October 16 at the age of 58. She had lived with multiple sclerosis since her diagnosis in 1988.

Karen Finneyfrock gives a contemporary voice to the Statue of Liberty in 'The Newer Colossus.'
Courtesy of Inti St. Clair

In "The Newer Colossus," Seattle performance poet and novelist Karen Finneyfrock gives voice to one of the most recognizable icons of America's immigrant history: the Statue of Liberty.

She told KUOW's Elizabeth Austen that a childhood visit to the Statue of Liberty and Emma Lazarus' 1883 poem "The New Colossus," which is engraved on the statue's pedestal, form part of the background inspiration for her poem.  

Poet Laura Da'
KUOW Photo/Kara McDermott

Elizabeth Austen talks to local poet Laura Da', the author of "Tributaries", about how she uses poetry to tell the story of her ancestors. Her book is the recipient of the American Book Award. 

Jourdan Keith.
KUOW Photo/Amina Al-Sadi

Elizabeth Austen talks to Jourdan Keith, founder and director of the Urban Wilderness Project, about the workshops she's leading for King County's Poetry on Buses program.  

John O'Brien

In this talk and reading, poet Matthew Dickman speaks eloquently about the often taboo subject of suicide. He says he can’t offer an answer to the question, why do people commit suicide?

Instead, he shares what he has learned from the suicides of his brother Darin and close friends, what he has learned from research and what other poets have written.


Poets Faiza Sultan and Lena Khalaf Tuffaha at the KUOW studio.
KUOW Photo/Amina Al-Sadi

Elizabeth Austen talks to Seattle poet Faiza Sultan and poet and translator Lena Khalaf Tuffaha about how Sultan uses her poetry to bridge cultures.


Photo: Brie Ripley

A recent poetry reading at Folio, The Seattle Athenaeum, featured three renowned Northwest poets: Heather McHugh, Lucia Perillo and Washington poet laureate Tod Marshall. What’s an Athenaeum? Listen in. All will be revealed.


Flickr Photo/Steven Santiago (CC-BY-NC-ND)/https://flic.kr/p/q4dpg6

Elizabeth Austen talks to Seattle's first civic poet Claudia Castro Luna about how poetry can be used to talk about the changing city. 

She is holding a series of poetry workshops around Seattle called "The Poet Is In."

Tod Marshall is Washington state's new poet laureate.
Courtesy of Amy Sinisterra Photography

Tod Marshall grew up in the Midwest, but Eastern Washington’s high desert is the place that inspires his poetry.

Marshall, the newly appointed Washington state poet laureate, teaches at Gonzaga University in Spokane. He’s an avid outdoorsman, and he spends much of his free time exploring the nearby vast open spaces.

Poet Quenton Baker
Courtesy of Helen Peppe

Elizabeth Austen talks to Seattle poet Quenton Baker about his mentor, Tim Seibles. 

Open Books, Seattle's only poetry-only bookstore.
Flickr Photo/Curtis Cronn (CC BY NC ND 2.0)/https://flic.kr/p/aw6Tyc

Bill Radke talks with former Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth Austin about Open Books, a poetry-only bookstore in Seattle. The owners of Open Books are looking to sell the store to a new owner.

Washington state's fourth poet laureate Tod Marshall.
Gonzaga University

If you want to be Washington State’s poet laureate, you have to apply for the job, the same way you’d apply to be a teacher or a bookkeeper.

Elizabeth Austen, Washington state's outgoing poet laureate.
KUOW Photo/Gil Aegerter

Elizabeth Austen hadn't given much thought to the state poet laureate job until a few years ago.

That changed after several friends urged Austen, a poet and KUOW's literary producer, to seek the post. She found out quickly she could make the position her own.

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