poetry | KUOW News and Information

poetry

Leija Farr, Seattle's new youth poet laureate, calls poetry a form of "self-healing."
KUOW photo/RadioActive staff

Seattleites love their poetry. The city is home to one of the nation's few poetry-only bookstores, Open Books, in the Wallingford neighborhood.

The Washington state poet laureate, Elizabeth Austen, is a Seattle resident. And the city recently decided to create a Seattle poet laureate position.

James Alred

Over the past couple of decades, Jana Harris  has written a series of poetry collections that blend exhaustive research with "documentary imagination," as she calls it. In these poems, Harris gives voice to 19th century women living in the western United States. 

Her latest collection,  "You Haven't Asked About My Wedding Or What I Wore: Poems of Courtship on the American Frontier," focuses on stories of courting and marriage. 

Poetry readers, prepare yourselves for a passing of the laurels. The Library of Congress announced in the wee hours Wednesday that the next U.S. poet laureate will be California writer Juan Felipe Herrera. He will be the first Latino poet to be appointed to the position.

"This is a mega-honor for me," Herrera said in the announcement, "for my family and my parents who came up north before and after the Mexican Revolution of 1910 — the honor is bigger than me."

Seattle Is Getting A Poetic New Post

Jun 9, 2015

Marcie Sillman speaks with Elizabeth Austen, Washington state poet laureate, about a new poetry post in Seattle. The city will name a civic poet for Seattle by early August.

Terrance Hayes won the National Book Award for Poetry for his volume “Lighthead” and in 2014 won a "genius grant" from the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.
Courtesy of John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation (CC-BY)

Seattle Arts & Lectures finished its most recent poetry series with a visit from multiple award-winning poet Terrance Hayes.

Fellow poet Cornelius Eady said of Hayes' work: “First you’ll marvel at his skill, his near-perfect pitch, his disarming humor, his brilliant turns of phrase. Then you’ll notice the grace, the tenderness, the unblinking truth-telling just beneath his lines, the open and generous way he takes in our world.” 

Writer and performance artist Anastacia Tolbert
Courtesy of Zorn Taylor

Elizabeth Austen presents a piece by poet Anastacia Tolbert, a writer, performance artist and workshop facilitator. She's also a black woman and the mother of two sons.

Her poem "What To Tell My Sons After Trayvon Martin, After Michael Brown, After Medgar Evers, After, After, After, After and Before..." is a fierce assertion that black lives have always mattered. 

Michael Lionstar

Elizabeth Austen speaks with Jane Hirshfield, a fellow poet and long-time practitioner of Zen Buddhism. Hirshfield is the author of eight books of poetry, two collections of essays and several volumes of translations. She reads from her new books: a collection of poems, "The Beauty" and "Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World."

Courtesy of John Blackard

Marcie Sillman speaks with Washington Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen, who shares two poems about disasters, manmade and natural. 

Dave Wenning

Marcie Sillman speaks with Washington state poet laureate Elizabeth Austen. Over this past year she has visited  24 counties throughout the state teaching writing workshops, giving readings and meeting fellow poets. Austen speaks about her first year as an "ambassador for poetry" and what she plans to do for her second and final year on the job.

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

In "Three Dreams from the Eastside of the Mountains," a sprawling, rollickingly Whitmanesque love poem, Tod Marshall summons the wildly various landscapes and identities of Washington state. 

"Ask the swirling dirt rising in spirals/from dusty furrows just outside of Ephrata"

Poet Nora Giron-Dolce at a Seattle bus stop.
KUOW Photo/Marcie Sillman

If you live in King County, you're surrounded by public artworks: murals, sculptures, fountains — you name it. Art is everywhere in this region.

That's due in large part to the county's One Percent for Art Program, one of the oldest in the nation. One percent of public construction project budgets are set aside for art or integrated design for those specific projects.

Karen Finneyfrock
Courtesy of Inti St. Clair

If you could go back in time, what would you want to say to your teenage self?

Writers Karen Finneyfrock, Rachel McKibbens and Mindy Nettifee decided to gather poems they wished they'd had when they were younger. 

"If we could give [teenage girls] one charm to tuck into their pockets, it would be courage," reads an excerpt from the introduction of their new anthology, "Courage: Daring Poems for Gutsy Girls."

For young people who don't succeed in high school, joining the military can seem like a good option, particularly when there are few other job prospects.

But Dejanique "Daisy" Armstrong, a young, gay woman from Stockton, Calif., never planned to enlist in the Army. She ultimately made that choice as a last resort.

Poet Heather McHugh.
Courtesy of the University of Washington

Ross Reynolds speaks with Seattle poet Heather McHugh, who is the author of eight volumes of poetry and numerous works of translation. She won a  MacArthur Fellowship, the so-called genius award, in 2009. Since her retirement as a professor of creative writing at the University of Washington this year, she has been working full time on a non-profit organization called Caregifted, which provides relief for family caregivers of  severely disabled people.

Courtesy of Sam Green

Waldron Island poet Sam Green reads two poems from his newest book, "All That Might Be Done." Each in its own way offers the gift of perspective.

"Constellations" tells the story of an outsider ("We knew he was different,") who prompts a group of boys playing baseball to see themselves -- momentarily -- as "stars in a field / of sky, said we should imagine each of us /a billion miles apart." 

Seattle Town Hall's Facebook page

Today on Speakers Forum: poetic inspiration from your friends, neighbors and other notables.

When Town Hall Seattle opened its doors in March of 1999 ,the first gathering was a celebration of Seattle’s Favorite Poems. The event was part of a national project created and hosted by then-U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. 

Spencer Reece
Rosanne Olson

Aylin Barbieri made an impression on Father Spencer Reece, who also happens to be an award-winning poet. Abandoned by her family, Barbieri is one of more than 70 girls living at  Our Little Roses Home for Girls in San Pedro Sula, Honduras, where Reece taught poetry and English in 2012. 

AP Photo/Nati Harnik, File

Most of us heard poetry as babies — nursery rhymes, lullabies, that sort of thing. By the time we reach adulthood, though, poetry is no longer part of our every day lives.

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Ted Kooser says poetry has become something scary. Kooser traces that fear  back to the early 20th century, when modernist poets like T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound were popular.

CEO Satya Nadella told the Seattle Chamber of Commerce this week that he has a shorter attention span now that he is running Microsoft.

But now that he's busier and his attention span is limited, he has switched to reading poetry, "because it's easier."

What does a poet make of that? Bill Radke asks former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, who is in Seattle for Seattle's Favorite Poems.

Susan Rich
Kelli Russell Agodon

Seattle-based poet and human rights activist Susan Rich reads two poems concerning the ongoing conflict between Israelis and Palestinians.

The first is "The Wall" from her 2000 collection "The Cartographer's Tongue," winner of the PEN USA Award for Poetry. 

The second is "What We Were Taught / What We Have Lost," written in response to the most recent violence.

Poet Michelle Peñaloza
Dawn Tyler

Ever since she moved to Seattle from Eugene a little over a year ago, poet Michelle Peñaloza has been inviting volunteers to walk with her from Hugo House in Capitol Hill to a place in the city where their hearts were broken. 

Along the walk, each person tells Peñaloza the story of the heartbreak. She records and maps the conversation using her phone’s GPS system, and transforms some of the walks and conversations into poems.

Book cover Reckless Lovely
Saturnalia Books

Seattle poet Martha Silano found inspiration in an NPR story, "An Alien View of Earth," about an image of our planet taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft. The poem she wrote in response to the news story, "Pale Blue Dot," not only became part of her newest collection, "Reckless Lovely," but led her work in a new direction.

Poet Christine Deavel
Rebecca Hoogs

Poet Christine Deavel trains her empathetic eye on two familiar places: North Seattle's Thornton Creek ("In Your Care") and the grocery store checkout line ("Each Day on the Verge").  

As she transforms these places through unexpected language and imagery, she also holds open questions about what it means to be whole, to be a neighbor, to be in one another's care. 

Paul Morigi/AP Images for National Portrait Gallery

Marcie Sillman talks to Colleen McElroy and Jen Marlowe about the legacy and impact of Dr. Maya Angelou on their lives.

McElroy is a writer and lecturer emeritus at the University of Washington. Marlowe is a Seattle writer and activist.

Courtesy of Rebecca Hoogs

In "50th & Sunnyside" and "Poem of Our Good Fortune," poet and Seattle native J.W. Marshall  proves that getting out of your car — whether to become a pedestrian or a bus rider — changes everything.

This is an excerpt from a longer interview that was originally broadcast on Oct. 19, 2011.

A few years after her younger brother John died from AIDS-related complications in 1989, poet Marie Howe wrote him a poem in the form of a letter. Called "What the Living Do," the poem is an elegiac description of loss, and of living beyond loss.

April is National Poetry Month — and at Code Switch, we like poems. We will be exploring a set of broad issues of race and ethnicity in modern poetry for the duration of the month.

About Face cover
Floating Bridge Press

Poet Ann Gerike combined years of research with an empathetic imagination to write "About Face: World War I Facial Injury and Reconstruction." Her poems bring to life the stories of terribly disfigured soldiers and surgeon Major Harold Gillies, whose wartime innovations helped restore their faces.

Garrison Keillor's book, "O, What A Luxury."

Steve Scher talks with Garrison Keillor about his first collection of original poetry, "O, What A Luxury: Verses Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound.”

This interview originally aired on November 6, 2013.

Kim-An Lieberman
Matt Corddry

The gravitational pull of one generation on another resounds throughout Kim-An Lieberman's second collection of poetry, "In Orbit." As in her first collection, "Breaking the Map," Lieberman mines the complexities of her Vietnamese and Jewish heritage to evoke a multi-layered identity.

Pages