poetry | KUOW News and Information

poetry

Peter Munro
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.

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:

Phin Dauphin
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.

Dennis Caswell
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"

Jourdan Keith
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.

Portrait of Zelda Fitzgerald
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.

Portrait of Colleen McElroy
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).

Author photo Marjorie Manwaring
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.

Karen Finneyfrock
Courtesy of 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."

Cover of In Broken Latin
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.

Cover image of Marjorie Manwaring's book
Mayapple Press

As spring edges out winter and previously bare tree limbs are suddenly effusive with blossoms, there's a sense that almost anything -- or anyone -- deserves a second chance. In her poem "A Quiet," poet Marjorie Manwaring meditates on alternative endings and the possibility of redemption.

Colleen McElroy
Photo Credit/Ingrid Papp-Sheldon

In her poem "What Stays Here," Colleen McElroy imagines life as a female soldier who must choose between loyalty to herself, and loyalty to a military code that says "keep quiet" and "get along." Like many of the poems in McElroy's ninth collection, "Here I Throw Down My Heart," (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2012) the poem awakens us to voices and stories we might otherwise never hear with such intimacy and power.

Carolyne Wright
Photo Credit/Erik Rucker

It can be hard to know how to respond to tragedies on the scale of the Newtown, Conn. shooting. We want to do something, but what?

Mapping The Human Brain

Feb 28, 2013
Brain scans
Flickr Photo/David Foltz

In his State of the Union address, President Obama proposed a massive scientific endeavor to map the human brain. It's a multi-billion dollar, multi-year project that's meant to do for neuroscience what the Human Genome Project did for DNA. How will scientists actually achieve it? We talk with Dr. Christof Koch from the Allen Institute for Brain Science and Dr. Patricia Kuhl from the UW Institute for Learning and Brain Science.

Taps On The Walls: Poems From The Hanoi Hilton

Feb 19, 2013

Many of us have written poetry during stressful times in life. Decorated retired Air Force Major General John Borling wrote his while imprisoned for six and a half years at the Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam. He joins us to share the poetry that helped him and his fellow POWs survive.

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

Mourning begins in a kind of thick non-seeing,
only later clarified, gradually lightening,
until we recognize what our lives must carry.

So begins "The Planet Closest To Us," Alice Derry's frank and moving poem about grieving the loss of someone who it was not always easy to love -- her mother. Derry reads her poem, and talks about the unexpected gift in her mother's passing.

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.

Politics In Verse With Calvin Trillin

Dec 27, 2012
Calvin Trillin
AP Photo/Richard Drew

America's deadline poet Calvin Trillin presents this talk about the 2012 presidential election -- in verse. With wry humor, Trillin discusses politics, campaigns and poetry, including the frustrating difficulty of trying to rhyme words with presidential candidate names. He spoke at Seattle's Town Hall on December 10, 2012.

Richard Drew / AP Photo

Journalist Calvin Trillin is a longtime writer for The New Yorker and The Nation magazine's "Deadline Poet." He has published more than 20 books, ranging from memoir ("About Alice") to humor ("Quite Enough of Calvin Trillin: Forty Years of Funny Stuff"). His latest book, "Dogfight: The 2012 Presidential Campaign in Verse," is a poetic recap of the memorable milestones along the campaign trail. Trillin joins us to reflect on the people, pitfalls and promises of the 2012 campaign.

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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