Susan J. Erickson has red cowboy boots and impeccable diction. She’s a poet hero of mine who I met back in the land of Douglas fir, though we’re both ladies of the 10,000 lakes.
Sue won the Brick Road Poetry Press prize last year, and her book, Lauren Bacall Shares a Limousine, is out now. Her collection of lady persona poems is tonally diverse, smart, and powerful.
Sue asked me to make a book trailer for her. We chose to work with her poem “Rapunzel Brings Her Women’s Studies Class to the Tower” partially because I now live near a giant bell tower and tracts of forest, but mostly because this poem is a linchpin poem. Rapunzel is trying to “relinquish the rib of victimhood.” She pushes back against the story we tell about her. She tells her class “your voices are searchlights that can sweep the horizon to reveal fault lines and illuminate passage.” What a good lesson.
This Saturday, poets will descend on the Lummi Island Library as part of Whatcom poetry anthology Noisy Water‘s no-town-left-behind reading series. I’m delighted to read alongside Luther Allen (co-conspirator with JI Kleinberg of this community poetry extravaganza), and my former professors Suzanne Paola and Bruce Beasley, as well as a few other wonderful poets.
Reading starts at 7:30!
For more information, check out Other Mind Press’s Noisy Water site.
I know almost everyone travels this time of year. Or, if you’re like me, you might find yourself donning pajamas once the sun goes down. (Does it ever come up?) Just in case you’re in Bellingham, and just in case you’ve been feeling like hearing poetry in a golden mead hall might do you some good, you can come to Write Riot, this Thursday, 12/17 at Honey Moon. It starts at 8:30, though if you want to read, come at 8:00.
The talented Jessica Lohafer hosts Write Riot each month. I’ll be featured this time! Maybe I’ll read a trio of deer poems. Maybe a sequence of poems about dark and night, since we’re pre-solstice and steeped in dark and night. Maybe I’ll read a poem, which you’ve never heard before because I just wrote it, about light.
Long ago, I offered to make the chapbooks for our local poetry contest because I was newly enamored with book arts; even formatting felt exciting to me. JI Kleinberg, a welcome force on any committee, herded me through rounds of proofing after she had passed me the winning poems. Last summer, she and Luther Allen tapped me to design the book for their Whatcom poetry anthology project through Other Mind Press. They call the collection Noisy Water, after the Lummi word,”Xwotʼqom”, from which “Whatcom” is derived. At the end of last month, we finished shepherding their manuscript of 101 poems into a beautiful book.
Working with each poem, noisy in a different way than the last, tuned me in to linebreaks and line length and stanza length and other formal choices. It was a real gift to spend so much time with every poem, calling up the poet, a friend or at least a neighbor, in my mind as I moved through the design file. I think the result is that each poem has some room to breathe. I hope you find, as you make your way through this book’s pages, that you don’t even notice the design, that you can fully immerse yourself in each poet’s poem.
It’s a stunning collection. You can buy one here, or come to the Village Books reading this Thursday, December 10th, at 7:00 p.m.
I won’t be reading, but many other of our community’s poets will be. If you can’t make it Thursday, Other Mind Press has set up a poetry tour, with no less than six more readings in the new year. No-town-left-behind! (Since one of my poems appears, I’ll read at the Lummi Island reading on February 20, and again at Village Books on April 14.)
I’m thrilled to have my poem, “Different Versions of Darkness,” featured in the Shadow Sail Theatre installation and performance at the Lightcatcher Museum. Heather Dawn Sparks, lead artist, makes gorgeous and magical sculpture and theatre. Look at this horse!
Last I heard, there might be letters made of willow, or oil barrels made into lace to project words onto sails… Friday night during Art Walk, swing by the Lightcatcher to catch whatever light and shadow, whatever version of darkness and illumination you can. Performance begins at 7:30. More info on facebook, of course.
I’ll be representing the Bellingham Review at the Bellingham Poetry Gallery this Friday, May 8th. Reading starts at 6:30 at the Spark Museum. Looking forward to it!
I’ll be leading a poetry workshop at the Fairhaven Library, Saturday morning, March 21st to benefit the Boynton Poetry Contest. Here’s the description:
In a poem, every word matters. Poets choose words not only for their meaning(s), but also for their associations, the way they look on the page, the way they feel in the mouth and sound to the ear. In this workshop, we’ll focus on a poem’s basic unit. We’ll read poems that revel in the specificity and physicality of words, we’ll revise one in-process poem through guided wordplay, and we’ll develop individual lexicons from which we’ll launch new work.Please bring 1-2 in-process poems as well as paper and a writing utensil.
Hope you can join us! Find registration info and more here: https://thepoetrydepartment.wordpress.com/workshops/