poetry

Elizabeth Austen Named 2014 Washington State Poet Laureate

Jan 28, 2014
Courtesy of Fat Yeti Photography

Elizabeth Austen has been bringing poetry to KUOW listeners since 2001. Now, her audience is going to get even bigger.

Austen was recently named Washington’s next poet laureate. An accomplished poet herself, her goal in the new role is to reach out to all 39 counties in the state with workshops, readings and poet interviews: to “celebrate and highlight” the wealth of resources available in Washington to writers and readers alike.

Cover of Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems from William Stafford
William Stafford's collection "Ask Me."

This year marks the centennial of the birth of William Stafford, a much beloved poet and lifelong pacifist who taught at Lewis and Clark College in Portland for nearly 40 years. To celebrate the occasion, Graywolf Press has released a collection of his poems titled, "Ask Me: 100 Essential Poems."

Poet Kate Lebo
Courtesy of Shawn Arntz

Poet Kate Lebo's newest collection, "A Commonplace Book of Pie," opens with an epigraph from Carl Sagan: "If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch, you must first invent the universe." 

The Poetry Of Rock And Roll

Dec 18, 2013
AP Photo/Brian Branch-Price

Not every rock song is poetry, but Pulitzer Prize-winning Irish poet Paul Muldoon argues that some are. Ross Reynolds talks with the New Yorker poetry editor and professor at Princeton about poetry, songs, his band Wayward Shrines, and his new book, "Word On The Street: Rock Lyrics."

Author Sherman Alexie in the KUOW studios.
KUOW Photo/Bond Huberman

Poet Sherman Alexie knows who to credit for his success as a writer.

“Independent bookstores are the reason why I have a career,” he told Steve Scher on KUOW’s The Record. “When this started out, a book of poems and stories by a Spokane Indian would have never fit anybody’s algorithm. This was a very specific case of a very specific group of people: The white liberal women of independent bookstores promoting my career."

Nancy Pearl's Picks: Poetry And Football

Nov 22, 2013
"The Art of Losing" and "The System"

Steve Scher sits down with everyone's favorite librarian Nancy Pearl for her book recommendations of the week including the collection “The Art Of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing” edited by Kevin Young, and “The System: The Glory And Scandal Of Big Time College Football” by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyain.

Courtesy of Jack Straw Productions/Sherwin Eng

It seems every family has at least one "wild card" relative — that person who is reliably unreliable, in one way or another.  Seattle writer Anne McDuffie's poem "Conditions" tells the wryly comical story of trying to prepare her young children to meet one such relative.

Portrait of Peter Munro
John Rand

"I don't really distinguish between science and poetry; they're kind of like two different languages," said Peter Munro, a fisheries scientist and writer.

"Hard Weather Prayers" reveals his fluency in both languages. The 15-section poetic sequence finds a metaphor for spiritual alienation in the harsh weather of southeast Alaska, an area Munro knows first-hand from growing up in Sitka, as well as his field work at sea.

Portrait of poet Jennifer Maier
Keith Brofsky

In Jennifer Maier's poem, "Responsible Person," a young boy practices constructing a self by building a paper version of the man he hopes to be in the future.

His father and the poem's speaker, "not his mother, the woman after his mother" look on, noting that he looks "like someone // you could count on, one of the numbered / good on which the world depends."

Portrait of poet Kelly Davio
Amy Carlson

What can you tell about people based on what they've chosen to have inked on their body? Poet Kelly Davio takes that question in a provocative direction in "One in Four of Us Is Marked" from her new poetry collection "Burn This House" (Red Hen Press, 2013).

Poet Rebecca Hoogs
Rebecca Hoogs

Local poet Rebecca Hoogs' new collection, "Self-Storage" (Stephen F. Austin State University Press, 2013), is full of witty and surprising verbal self-portraits. "Honeymoon" turns the mirror outward, looking at two friends' relationship. Hoogs says the poem was prompted by the fact that she knew one very important fact about the couple before they wed.

Hoogs is the curator of the Seattle Arts and Lectures Poetry Series, SAL U and the Literary Arts Series. She's the author of the chapbook "Grenade" and has been awarded fellowships from ArtistTrust and the MacDowell Colony. 

Read more of Hoogs' poems online at The Monarch Review.

Jack Hitt On Making Up The Truth

Writer and storyteller Jack Hitt has made a career portraying the larger-than-life characters he's encountered: a flamboyant neighbor who made international news as one of the world's first transsexuals, a building superintendent who was also a Brazilian mobster. "Why do these things always happen to you?" people ask. They don't, he says. Unbelievable stories happen to everybody. His new solo show mingles these stories with scientific research to show how our story-generating brains are constantly editing reality and "making up the truth" for us. Steve Scher talked with Jack Hitt in 2009.

The Art Of Poetry With W.S. Merwin

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin is best known for his writing about the Vietnam War. Merwin has written and published poetry for over 50 years and translated the works of Dante and Pablo Neruda. He also comes from the generation of some of America's most famous poets: James Merrill, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Frank O'Hara, James Wright and John Ashbery. What was it like to work in that company? Steve Scher talked with W.S. Merwin in 2010 about the art of poetry.

Life As An Underage Prostitute

Have you heard of a "choosey Suzie" or a "wife-in-law?" Do you know what being "in pocket" is? Thousands of underage kids trapped in prostitution know all too well. Steve Scher talked with Joanna Ward, then a case manager at YouthCare’s Orion Center, and heard first-hand stories of underage sex trafficking.

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.

Maga Barzallo Sockemtickem portrait
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.

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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