poetry

Imaginary Friends
6:00 am
Tue August 20, 2013

Imaginary Friends, Ruth Reichl, And Robert Olen Butler

Flickr Photo/Jared Eberhardt

Imaginary Friends: Can’t Live With 'Em, Can’t Live Without 'Em

Most of us have fond memories of our childhood friends, but what about our friends that weren’t real? Imaginary friends come in many shapes and sizes, and they often provide handy scapegoats. Steve Scher talked with Marjorie Taylor, professor and head of psychology at the University of Oregon and author of "Imaginary Companions." He also talked to Stephanie Carlson, professor of child development at the University of Minnesota, about where our imaginary friends come from and why they leave.

Ruth Reichl On How And What Americans Eat

At the end of 2009, legendary Gourmet Magazine printed its last issue. Steve Scher talked with then-editor and author Ruth Reichl just four days before the announcement of the magazine’s end about how and what Americans are eating.

Robert Olen Butler On Vietnamese Expat Communities

Robert Olen Butler is the author of “A Good Scent from a Stranger Mountain,” a collection of short stories about Vietnamese expats. In his book, Butler recalls many stories from Vietnamese expats around the world and the often, as he deems them, temperamental dynamics of these communities. Steve Scher talked with Butler back in 1992.

Poetry
9:37 am
Tue August 6, 2013

Maga Barzallo Sockemtickem's "Where I'm From"

A self-portrait of poet Maga Barzallo Sockemtickem.
Credit Maga Barzallo Sockemtickem

Like thousands of other local students, Maga Barzallo Sockemtickem has had the benefit of working with a professional writer in the classroom through Writers in the Schools, a program from Seattle Arts and Lectures

But for Barzallo Sockemtickem, now 17, that "classroom" happened to be her room at Seattle Children's Hospital. She has spent many months at Children's, being treated for cancer and working with WITS poet Sierra Nelson.

Barzallo Sockemtickem's poem "Where I'm From" is defiant and tender, and challenges her listener to understand that she won't let her disease define her: "I am from stubbornness / and spitfire. / I am from refuse to give up. / I am not just cancerous." 

Her poem was awarded the "Origins" prize from Seattle Arts and Lectures.

Barzallo Sockemtickem was recorded in the KUOW Studios on August 2.

Poetry
8:00 am
Tue July 30, 2013

Marjorie Manwaring's "Church Camp-Out, 1978"

Credit Marjorie Manwaring's first full-length poetry collection "Search for a Velvet-Lined Cape."

"Summer hearts buzz like sapphire dragonflies," writes Marjorie Manwaring in "Church Camp-out, 1978," a poem that captures the particularly adolescent ability to conflate the sexual and the spiritual. The poem is part of Manwaring's collection, "Search for a Velvet-Lined Cape."

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Language And Peace
2:19 pm
Thu July 18, 2013

Invented Language Esperanto Not Quite Dead Yet

The flag of Esperanto
Credit Wikipedia Commons

Friday, July 26, is World Esperanto Day.

Today on KUOW Presents, producer Roman Mars told us about the history of the invented language Esperanto.

Esperanto's a language born out of the dream that if we all spoke the same language, we wouldn't have wars. That might sound a little naïve, when you consider how divided we can be even within the United States - where many people do speak the same language. Still, one can't help thinking: If we could turn on the television and see the personal stories of Iraqis, would the United States have gone to war with that nation?

Some would argue we are starting to understand each other, through English language reporting from news organizations like Al Jazeera, and CNN, which has an Arabic language channel. It's too early to say whether that programming will smooth out the differences between American and Middle Eastern cultures. But even with cable news going international, those broadcasts are just cultural diplomacy for nations that still think in different languages. And the idea of Esperanto still has power.

The Local Esperanto Connection

Seattle has an Esperanto club (it has several, actually). KUOW's Joshua McNichols called up club member Leland Ross to get a local perspective on the international language of Esperanto.

Leland says Esperanto isn't dead. In fact, it's doing better than ever before, thanks to the Internet. He says in the past, an Esperanto speaker would send off letters to an Esperanto-speaking pen pal and would have to wait for a response, but today, you can hop online and immediately chat with someone anywhere in the world.

Leland says one local group of Esperanto enthusiasts have a regular poker night conducted entirely in Esperanto. It isn't world peace, but you've got to start somewhere.

KUOW Presents is going on vacation next week. We'll be back July 29!

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents, July 18:

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Poetry
11:59 am
Thu July 18, 2013

David Wagoner And "Their Bodies"

Poet David Wagoner
Credit Courtesy of David Wagoner, Photo by Robin Seyfried

One of the most profound duties of child to parent is to honor their last wishes, as best we can. In "Their Bodies," poet David Wagoner addresses the students of the anatomy lab at Indiana University, where his parents donated their bodies.

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Poetry
2:05 pm
Thu June 27, 2013

Peter Munro On "Reading My Father's Bible"

Poet and fisheries scientist Peter Munro
Credit John Rand

Poet Peter Munro recounts the complex mix of blessing and burden in caring for a dying parent in his multi-part poem, "Ketogenesis Apocalypse."  In this section, "Reading My Father's Bible," Munro finds a metaphor for his preacher father's decline in the image of his Bible worn to the point of falling apart.

Munro spends much of his time in the Bering Sea, Aleutian Islands and Gulf of Alaska, working as a fisheries scientist. His poems have been featured in Poetry magazine and the Beloit Poetry Journal.  He lives in Seattle, and is a frequent reader at the open mics hosted by the North End Forum.

Munro's reading was recorded by Jack Straw Productions, as part of the 2013 Jack Straw Writers Program.

Russian Political Trials
1:29 pm
Thu June 20, 2013

For Mother Of Russian Billionaire, It's A Lonely Train Ride To Arctic Prison To Visit Her Son

Russian Plains
Credit Flickr Photo/giocomai

In the last 12 months there has been a series of political trials in Russia. First there was the punk rock group Pussy Riot. Then, demonstrators from the anti-Putin protest movement faced the court followed by the rising star of the opposition, Alexei Navalny. Some say Putin is using the justice system to shut down their political rivals and that this kind of injustice is accelerating.

When This Whole Thing Started

It began ten years ago with the arrest of the oil billionaire Mikhail Khodorkovsky. He has been in prison ever since. First, he was in Siberia. Now, he's at the edge of the Arctic. His mother travels vast distances to visit him.

Today on KUOW Presents, we join her on that long, cold train ride.

Full list of stories from KUOW Presents,  June 20:

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Poetry
9:30 am
Thu June 20, 2013

Phin Dauphin's "Baritone Without A Body"

A self-portrait by poet Phin Dauphin.
Credit Phin Dauphin

"I will no longer mispronounce myself," resolves Phin Dauphin in "Baritone Without a Body." 

A self-described "gender fluid person," Dauphin says the poem was written while part of a slam poetry team preparing to represent Seattle at Brave New Voices, an international poetry festival. "Baritone Without a Body" aims to document the path taken to understand Dauphin's gender, and reflects a deep regard for language rooted in the experience of growing up in a household where English, Spanish, French and Creole were spoken on a daily basis.

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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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