Monday, December 26, 2011

I love this poem from today's American Life in Poetry:

The Art of Being

The fern in the rain breathes the silver message.
Stay, lie low. Play your dark reeds
and relearn the beauty of absorption.
There is nothing beyond the rotten log
covered with leaves and needles.
Forget the light emerging with its golden wick.
Raise your face to the water-laden frond.
A thousand blossoms will fall into your arms.


 Anne Coray is an Alaskan, and in this beautiful meditation on the stillness of nature she shows us how closely she’s studied something that others might simply step over.

   American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright ©2011 by Anne Coray from her most recent book of poetry, A Measure’s Hush, Boreal Books, 2011. Poem reprinted by permission of Anne Coray and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2011 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.


Great little memorial article for Ruth Stone, written by Philip Levine, in the NY Times yesterday:

"Ruth lived in the only world of poetry that matters, the one without publishers, awards, prestige, competition, jealousy, money — the one  
we might call “poetry eternal,” the same world the great poems live in. Now she is there forever."

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Geospatial Poetry Is Here!

Check out this terrific new collaborative poetry project. It is so cool to log on to Google Earth, and zoom in on a location (currently WA state is featured), and find a poem there! Some of the featured poets include Allen Braden, Kathleen Flenniken, Derrick Sheffield, Susan Rich, James Bertolino, and Kathryn Hunt. Visit Katharine Whitcomb's website for more details:

The Center for Geospatial Poetry at Central Washington University. A Sense of Place: The Washington State Geospatial Poetry Anthology, edited by Professor Katharine Whitcomb, Dr. Robert Hickey, and Marco Thompson, is ready for readers and distribution. They are also now accepting submissions for a 2nd edition. Click on the above links and check it out.

Also: A Sense of Place has its first gig at the Cascadia Poetry Festival, March 25, 2012, 4 p.m. Be *there* (no pun intended).


Friday, December 16, 2011

Love this poem from today's Verse Daily:
White Stork
                                         —Ciconia ciconia

Such jazzy arrhythmia,
                                     the white storks'
Plosive and gorgeous leave-takings suggest
Oracular utterance where the blurred
Danube disperses its silts.
                                         Then the red-
Billed, red-legged creatures begin to spiral,
To float among thermals like the souls, wrote
Pythagoras, praising the expansive
Grandeur of black-tipped wings, of dead poets.
Most Eastern cultures would not allow them
To be struck, not with slung stone or arrow
Or, later, lead bullet—
                                   birds who have learned,
While living, to keep their songs to themselves,
Who return to nests used for centuries,
Nests built on rooftops, haystacks, telegraph
Poles, on wooden wagon wheels placed on cold
Chimneys by peasants who hoped to draw down
Upon plague-struck villages such winged luck.

If the body in its failure remains
A nest, if the soul chooses to return...

Yet not one stork has been born in Britain
Since 1416, the last nest renounced
When Julian of Norwich, anchoress,
Having exhausted all revelations,
Took earthly dispensation, that final
Stork assuring, even while vanishing,
"Sin is behovely, but all shall be well."

Copyright © 2011 Michael Waters All rights reserved
from Gospel Night
BOA Editions
Reprinted by Verse Daily® with permission


And this one from a few days ago on Poem-A-Day

The Gardenia
by Cornelius Eady

The trouble is, you can never take
That flower from Billie's hair.
She is always walking too fast
and try as we might,

there's no talking her into slowing.
Don't go down into that basement,
we'd like to scream. What will it take
to bargain her blues,

To retire that term when it comes
to her? But the grain and the cigarettes,
the narcs and the fancy-dressed boys,
the sediment in her throat.

That's the soil those petals spring from,
Like a fist, if a fist could sing.


Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Poetry Housewives of the University

This poetry kerfuffle has sure generated a lot of hype. I wonder if the publisher (Penguin) set it all up as a way to sell more copies of the anthology? Doesn't it all seem like a bad episode of reality TV? All this calling names and pulling hair and scratching over number of pages and who is in and who is out -- or am I just being cynical? You decide.

Poetry Knockdown: Harvard Prof Disses Poetry Anthology.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where are those "millionaire job creators?"

Dean and I are back from a lovely week-plus in PV. So hard to come back to 30's and frost on the back porch, but it is good to be home. And, strangely enough, I really don't mind getting back to work, except that with call and admin duties I will be working the next 12 (yes twelve) days in a row. Yikes!

I had somewhat of a news holiday while out on the beach, except what was available on line (Thank god for HuffPo!). This particular article caught my eye. It really gets me going, those ignorant lying Republicans, and their BS about millionaire job creators:

"We wanted to talk to business owners who would be affected . So NPR requested help from numerous Republican congressional offices, including House and Senate leadership. They were unable to produce a single millionaire job creator for us to interview.
So we went to the business groups that have been lobbying against the surtax. Again, three days after putting in a request, none of them was able to find someone for us to talk to. A group called the Tax Relief Coalition said the problem was finding someone willing to talk about their personal taxes on national radio.
So next we put a query on Facebook. And several business owners who said they would be affected by the "millionaires surtax" responded."

-- Jody Gorran, chairman of Aquatherm Industries: "This mantra that every dollar in tax increases is a dollar away from job creation -- give me a break. ... It's not taxes that affects job creation, it's demand."
-- Kelly Conklin, owner of Foley-Waite Associates: "I don't decide to hire or buy equipment based on tax policy. ... We know how to make shit out of wood."
-- Debra Ruh, owner of TecAccess: "We need to hire people, but we don't have the cash or the credit to do it. ... I don't mind paying taxes. ... I like living in the United States and having the opportunities here. I don't understand why running a business has to be about avoiding paying taxes."
-- Michael Teahan, owner of Espresso Resource: "What we do in business, how we spend our money, how we allocate our resources -- that has very little to do with tax policy. ... I map my business based on my customers and what my customers want to buy and what they can afford to buy."
-- Rick Poore, owner of Designwear Inc.: "If you drive more people to my business, I will hire more people. It's as simple as that. If you give me a tax break, I'll just take the wife to the Bahamas."
-- Lew Prince, owner of Vintage Vinyl: "The economic premise that people won't hire because they might have to pay more taxes if they make more money is beyond laughable. ... You hire when you think there's a way you can make more money with that hire. The percentage the government takes out of it has almost nothing to do with it."

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cafe Nordo

Had a great time with Dean and friends at the finale performance of Cafe Nordo's "To Savor Tomorrow." We had never been to one of their dinner shows before, and it was quite a delight. The setting was retro-futuristic, on an airliner traveling from Hawaii to Seattle for the 1962 World's Fair. The plot was all cold-war era spying and espionage, with agents and double agents from US, USSR, China and Great Britain in search of a secret food weapon (a drunken twinkie?), with interludes from a food scientist recounting the history of food and new inventions in genetics and fertilizer that were leading us into a new, too-good-to-be-true era of convenience.

It was all really funny -- especially the silly spy thriller plot -- I LOVED Svetlana, the Soviet spy/stewardess, and Ping/Arthur, the Chinese/British double agent. But it was also thought provoking, in terms of getting us to think about where our food comes from, what all the "progress" in food science is leading too, etc -- I remember the scientist quoting "a man with bread has many problems, but a man with no bread has one problem;" and her malaprop about "American ingenue-ity."

Unfortunately the menu did not really live up to the press -- favorites were the blini with beet caviar, and the deconstructed won ton noodle soup; but the meat loaf dish was a bit of a let-down. Portions were small, and the presentation minimal, but maybe that was the intent -- this was the "food of tomorrow," for er . . . 1962. Still everybody seemed to be having a great time. The play was a hoot and the series of themed cocktails kept us loose and laughing.

Their next show is due this spring:

Coming Spring 2012: Café Nordo's Cabinet of Wonders
Enter a surreal gallery inspired by the Victorian Cabinets of Curiosity. Chef Nordo Lefesczki concocts a recipe that is one part museum, one part fun house, and one part five-course dinner. Explore the real and fantastic history, science, and mythology of food.
Opens May 5th, 2012 at Washington Hall (14th and Yesler). Don't miss out!


In the NY Times Book Review today, a great essay-review of Daniel Kahneman's new book, Thinking, Fast and Slow. The reviewer, Jim Holt, talks about Kahneman's theory of the two parts of our brain: the quick, irrational, that uses association and metaphor; and the slow, calculating rational, that measures and counts and uses logic -- and how the irrational part is the one that calls the shots, often to our peril! (No wonder such a large part of the Republican base so often votes against their best interests!) Also, I was very intrigued by the concept of the "experiencing self" and the "remembering self," and how our awareness of our selves, our lives, our sense of happiness, and what we bases our decisions on, is primarily the work of the remembering self (vacations, and colonoscopies, are always better in retrospect). And that the experiencing self, in a large part, really hardly exists. Fascinating. I may actually have to get the book, and read about it all a little more in depth.


Monday, November 21, 2011

I love this poem from today's American Life in Poetry:

Believe This

All morning, doing the hard, root-wrestling
work of turning a yard from the wild
to a gardener’s will, I heard a bird singing
from a hidden, though not distant, perch;
a song of swift, syncopated syllables sounding
like, Can you believe this, believe this, believe?
Can you believe this, believe this, believe?
And all morning, I did believe. All morning,
between break-even bouts with the unwanted,
I wanted to see that bird, and looked up so
I might later recognize it in a guide, and know
and call its name, but even more, I wanted
to join its church. For all morning, and many
a time in my life, I have wondered who, beyond
this plot I work, has called the order of being,
that givers of food are deemed lesser
than are the receivers. All morning,
muscling my will against that of the wild,
to claim a place in the bounty of earth,
seed, root, sun and rain, I offered my labor
as a kind of grace, and gave thanks even
for the aching in my body, which reached
beyond this work and this gift of struggle.


American Life in Poetry is made possible by The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine. It is also supported by the Department of English at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. Poem copyright © 2010 by Richard Levine, from his most recent book of poetry, That Country’s Soul, Finishing Line Press, 2010, by permission of Richard Levine and the publisher. Introduction copyright ©2011 by The Poetry Foundation. The introduction's author, Ted Kooser, served as United States Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress from 2004-2006. We do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD: POETRY announced. I heard the story on NPR this morning, and loved the exerpt from Nikky Finney's acceptance speech. Log on to the NBA site to read/hear interviews and video and such.

WINNER: Nikky Finney, Head Off & Split
(TriQuarterly, an imprint of Northwestern University Press) - Interview


Yusef Komunyakaa, The Chameleon Couch
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux) - Interview coming soon.

Carl Phillips, Double Shadow
(Farrar, Straus and Giroux) - Interview

Adrienne Rich, Tonight No Poetry Will Serve: Poems 2007-2010
(W.W. Norton & Company) - Interview

Bruce Smith, Devotions
(University of Chicago Press) - Interview

Poetry Judges: Elizabeth Alexander (Panel Chair), Thomas Sayers Ellis,
Amy Gerstler, Kathleen Graber, Roberto Tejada

Monday, October 24, 2011

Art and Transformation

Dean and I went to the "Luminous" exhibit at SAM yesterday. What a great show! It was a selection of Seattle Art Museum's vast Asian Art collection, curated by Doh Ho Su (the artist who created the amazing "dog tag" suit of armor sculpture). It opens with a group of Buddha heads, from different cultures, such as Indonesian, Thai, Cambodian. Then a series of sculptural fragments, and the idea that everything is a fragment, only a piece of the whole, but that it also contains the essence of the whole. The pieces are grouped thematically, rather than chronologically, or by country -- and this serves to open up to larger ideas of the meaning of art, museums, memory, preservation. Suh writes a thoughtful brief intro to each group, that is just the right amount of a prompt.

The most amazing part was Suh's installation called Gate. It is a screen in the shape of the gate at his ancestral home in Korea, onto which a series of video images plays: his Korean home in the changing light (time lapse video); some growing tree branches like paint strokes; butterflies, dragonflies, a deer; and then an amazing series of crows, single and flocking and filling the sky, and swarming into a whirl -- all echoing images that are to come in the next rooms. It is a pretty amazing piece, visually and viscerally moving, and it's worth it to sit in the dark anteroom and watch it for a while, before passing through the gate, and experiencing the transformation that great art offers. And then looking back, and seeing it again from the other side.

Highly recommended.


I love this poem from the new Jim Harrison book from Copper Canyon.

River II

Another dawn in the village by the river
and I'm jealous of the 63 moons of Jupiter.
Out in the yard inspecting a lush lilac bush
followed by five dogs who have chosen
me as their temporary leader. I look up
through the vodka jangle of the night before,
straight up at least 30,000 feet where the mountains
are tipping over on me. Dizzy I grab the lilacs
for support. Of course it's deceitful clouds
playing the game of becoming mountains.
Once on our nighttime farm on a moonlit walk
the clouds pushed by a big western wind
became a school of whales swimming hard
across the cold heavens and I finally knew
that we walk the bottom of an ocean we call sky.

-- Jim Harrison, from Songs of Unreason


Thursday, October 13, 2011

999 = 666 ?

From Conservative Focus

By Paul Bentley

Michele Bachmann ridiculed Cain's plan most successfully, saying that when scrutinised or 'turned upside down' the 999 principle became Satan's number, 666.

'When you take the 999 plan and you turn it upside down, I think the devil is in the details,' she said.

She added that the proposal was not a jobs plan, but rather a tax plan.

The planned 999 policy has come in for criticism before from tax analysts, who claim it would cause those less well off to pay more.

Jon Huntsman, meanwhile, joked that at first he thought the 999 tax plan was a pizza price, not a real economic proposal.


HAHAHA. The republican debate was such a hoot to watch. Are these people for real? Invoking the Anti Christ and 666 as debate points? It is looking better for Obama every day.

Monday, October 03, 2011

A lovely poem from today's American Life in Poetry:


I used to think the land
had something to say to us,
back when wildflowers
would come right up to your hand
as if they were tame.

Sooner or later, I thought,
the wind would begin to make sense
if I listened hard
and took notes religiously.
That was spring.

Now I’m not so sure:
the cloudless sky has a flat affect
and the fields plowed down after harvest
seem so expressionless,
keeping their own counsel.

This afternoon, nut tree leaves
blow across them
as if autumn had written us a long letter,
changed its mind,
and tore it into little scraps.


Poem copyright ©2010 by Don Thompson, whose most recent book of poetry is Where We Live, Parallel Press, 2009.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

WCW Article

FOR MANY years, Rutherford native William Carlos Williams practiced medicine and wrote poetry. It is hard to say how much one may have influenced the other, but the historical record, at least as it speaks to us in the written word, shows that it was a productive collaboration.

Fittingly, Williams' vast talents are being recognized next year, with nine other American poets, in a postage stamp collection being issued by the United States Postal Service. We can think of no more deserving recipient.

For Williams, who in his role as physician must have observed so much about the daily struggles of life and death in North Jersey, penned a uniquely American form of poetry. In essence, Williams wrote what he saw, and he saw plenty. He saw poetry in the everyday: the subtle possibilities of a red wheelbarrow in the rain, the not-so-subtle seductions of Queen Anne's lace.

Of course, Williams, also an essayist and prolific letter writer, is best known for his epic poem, "Paterson," which appeared in five separate volumes from 1946 to 1958. In 1963, the year he died, Williams' collection "Pictures From Brueghel" won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.

Now, nearly 50 years after his death comes this new honor, being part of a postage stamp memoriam to be released next March. The photograph of Williams used in the collection was taken in the 1940s. Other poets honored include Elizabeth Bishop, Wallace Stevens and Sylvia Plath.

Thanks must go to photographer and historian William Neumann of Rutherford, a longtime Williams admirer, who nominated the poet for the stamp and gathered support from local legislators and literary groups. "He spoke to people directly through his poetry, and he was a tremendous letter writer, so I thought it was appropriate," Neumann told The Record.

As far as New Jersey is concerned, Williams might be fairly seen as that creative bridge between the original American poet, Walt Whitman, and the counterculture genius, Allen Ginsberg. Williams' poetry was informed by the gritty, diverse and working class people and landscapes of Paterson and beyond. Its themes are universal, its origins undeniably American.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Kudos to Kay Ryan and AE Stallings. Such an impressive list! (via HuffPo)

MacArthur Foundation 'Genius Grant' Recipients 2011

CHICAGO -- The following 22 fellows each will receive $500,000 over the next five years from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation:

_Jad Abumrad, 38, New York. Radio co-host and producer of the nationally syndicated WNYC program "Radiolab."

_Marie-Therese Connolly, 54, Washington, D.C. Lawyer who works to combat physical and psychological elder abuse and mistreatment, and elder financial exploitation.

_Roland Fryer, 34, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University economics professor who studies causes and consequences of economic disparity due to race and inequality.

_Jeanne Gang, 47, Chicago. Architect focusing on the geographic, social and environmental factors of residential, educational and commercial buildings.

_Elodie Ghedin, 44, Pittsburgh, Pa. Parasitologist and assistant professor at University of Pittsburg School of Medicine who studies genetic sequencing techniques.

_Markus Greiner, 38, Cambridge, Mass. Harvard University associate professor of physics and condensed matter physicist.

_Kevin Guskiewicz, 45, Chapel Hill, N.C. Sports medicine researcher and University of North Carolina professor of exercise and sports science specializing in diagnosis, treatment and prevention of sports-related concussions.

_Peter Hessler, 42, Ridgway, Colo. Long-form journalist whose work explores life in Reform Era China.

_Tiya Miles, 41, Ann Arbor, Mich. University of Michigan history professor who studies relationships between African and Cherokee people living and working in colonial America.

_Matthew Nock, 38, Cambridge, Mass. Clinical psychologist and Harvard University psychology professor whose work focuses on suicide and self-injury in adolescents and adults.

_Francisco Nunez, 46, New York. Choral conductor, composer and founder and artistic director of the Young People's Chorus of New York City.

_Sarah Otto, 43, Vancouver, B.C. University of British Columbia professor and evolutionary geneticist.

_Shwetak Patel, 29, Seattle. Sensor technologist, computer scientist and assistant professor at the University of Washington.

_Dafnis Prieto, 37, New York. Jazz percussionist and composer with classical training and Afro-Cuban musical heritage.

_Kay Ryan, 65, Fairfax, Calif. Former Poet Laureate of the United States and author of eight volumes of poetry.

_Melanie Sanford, 36, Ann Arbor, Mich. Organometallic chemist and University of Michigan professor of chemistry.

_William Seeley, 39, San Francisco. University of California associate professor and neuropathologist who studies human neurodegenerative disease.

_Jacob Soll, 42, Camden N.J. Rutgers University history professor whose work encompasses early modern Europe.

_A.E. Stallings, 43, Athens, Greece. Director of the poetry program at the Athens Centre, poet and translator.

_Ubaldo Vitali, 67, Maplewood, N.J. Fourth-generation silversmith, conservator and scholar who restores silver masterworks and creates original art.

_Alisa Weilerstein, 29, New York. Cellist who performs traditional and contemporary music.

_Yukiko Yamashita, 39, Ann Arbor, Mich. University of Michigan Medical School assistant professor and developmental biologist studying stem cell division.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

From today's Poem a Day. I think this poem captures the change in season we have been experiencing the past few days. Not sure I care for the use of the "they" pronoun, though.

Will be home saucing tomatoes, and blending up a few batches of pesto today. Ahhhh Autumn. I've learned to love it.

by Amy Lowell

They brought me a quilled, yellow dahlia,
Opulent, flaunting.
Round gold
Flung out of a pale green stalk.
Round, ripe gold
Of maturity,
Meticulously frilled and flaming,
A fire-ball of proclamation:
Fecundity decked in staring yellow
For all the world to see.
They brought a quilled, yellow dahlia,
To me who am barren
Shall I send it to you,
You who have taken with you
All I once possessed?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Another death "in the family." Ralph was such a great guy. Dean and I so appreciated his blending of art, spirituality and domestic gay life.

The Rev. Ralph Carskadden dies at age 71 (full story here)

If we are to grasp the message of
the gospels;

If we are to understand the
teachings of Jesus;

If we are to be faithful disciples,
then we must realize what
we are called to be:

Called to act counter to the
prevailing culture which
surrounds us.

-The Rev. Ralph Carskadden (from Peter Hallock, ©1994, on the Compline Choir website)

The Rev. Ralph R. Carskadden died Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2011 after battling cancer. He was 71. A Requiem Mass will take place at 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 15 at St. Mark's Cathedral, Seattle, followed by a reception at Diocesan House. Both of these events will be hosted by St. Paul's, Seattle.

A Northwest native, Carskadden was born in Seattle on June 25, 1940, raised in that city and on north Whidbey Is. Baptized into Christ at 6 months old, he grew up into the faith as a Lutheran. During his senior year at Wittenberg University in Ohio, he found a home in the Episcopal Church and was confirmed by the bishop of Southern Ohio on “Low Sunday” 1962. That summer he became a postulant in the Diocese of Olympia and traveled to New Haven, Conn. to the Berkeley Divinity School, graduating in 1965. He then moved to New York, where he was a caseworker with the welfare department as well as a paid alto in the Men and Boys Choir at Trinity, Wall Street.

Carskadden cherished a long association with Peter Hallock and the Compline Choir, with whom he traveled to Russia, Scandinavia and England.

“A piece of my soul is connected to the art, music and spirituality of Russian Orthodoxy,” Carskadden once explained. He traveled several times to Russia as a member of the St. Petersburg, Russia, Seattle Sister Churches program, and helped raise support for the Children’s Hospice in St. Petersburg.

A founding member of the diocesan Dismantling Racism Training Team, Carskadden was instrumental in facilitating conversation on race relations, working with congregations to eradicate the sin of racism and encouraging them to move toward being more inclusive, diverse and welcoming. Home was a sacred place to him, and together with his long-time partner, Steven Iverson, Carskadden lovingly and painstakingly restored their 1910 Craftsman house on Beacon Hill. Jacob, their Scottish terrier, was a constant companion.

A well-respected liturgical consultant to a wide variety of churches and organizations, Carskadden taught the Introduction to Christian Worship course in the Diocesan School of Ministry and Theology and served on the Advisory Board of the Summer Liturgy Institute at Seattle University. He served a three-year term on the City of Seattle Arts Commission and also on the board of the Association of Diocesan Liturgy and Music Commissions of the Episcopal Church. As a craftsman he worked in textiles, clay and iconography.

In August 1967, Carskadden returned to the Pacific Northwest and was ordained deacon, and the following year, priest, by Bishop Ivol Curtis. He served on staff at Christ Church, Tacoma; St. Paul’s, Seattle; Christ Church, Grosse Pointe, Mich.; and for three years was canon liturgist at St. Paul’s Cathedral, Detroit. In 1976 he became an associate at All Souls’, San Diego, and in 1979 was elected its rector.

He returned again to Seattle at the end of 1986 to work on a degree in art at the University of Washington, and in 1988 became part-time on the staff at St. Mark’s Cathedral, Seattle, where dean Fred Northup appointed him canon liturgist. When that position was terminated, he finished his degree and became priest-in-charge at St. Clement’s, Seattle. After two years, he was elected rector of what he affectionately called “that wonderful, multi-racial congregation” until his retirement. Later, he served again at the appointment of Bishop Greg Rickel as priest-in-charge of St. Mark’s Cathedral, where he guided the congregation on a process of discovery and self-examination through the creation of textiles, vestments and altar cloths, made by weaving together pieces of fabric and yarn donated by the congregation and larger community. He found his spiritual home at St. Paul’s, Seattle, where he was a priest associate.

Carskadden, a beloved pastor, consultant, craftsman and artist, will be deeply missed. Please keep him, Steven Iverson, their family, friends and all those who mourn in your prayers.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Seattle coffee scene loses beloved barista
Brian Fairbrother, longtime Espresso Vivace barista and manager, dies a week after bicycle accident.

So sad, so sad. Dean and I remember Brian from when we were first together, and went for coffee at the old Vivace cart on Broadway. He was a kind and gentle and principled soul. full story from Seattle Times linked below:

For thousands of Seattleites over the years, Brian Fairbrother was the face of morning.

A longtime barista and manager at Espresso Vivace, he orchestrated the delivery of coffee and pastries to the caffeine-depleted hordes, making conversation with those whose eyes were open enough on topics ranging from the arts to cooking to linguistics.

Fairbrother, 50, died Thursday from head injuries sustained in a bicycling accident on Aug. 30.

Customers and co-workers can't imagine mornings — or Seattle's coffee scene — without him.

"We had a daily morning routine with my Vivace doughnut addiction. I am not sure if I'll be able to buy another doughnut from someone else. We had a system," Brandon Carr wrote at, one of several websites with outpourings of love and sadness for Fairbrother.

Brad Mumbrue, a regular at Vivace's Alley 24 location near the REI flagship store in Seattle, said the place is diminished without him. "Having him here made you want to linger. He brought a sense of community."

Fairbrother also knew how to pull an espresso shot and to treat employees fairly, said Vivace co-owner David Schomer.

"He created a balanced organization to counter my impulsiveness," Schomer said. "If I had a good training with somebody, I'd give them a raise. Brian said, 'You can't do that. You have to be very systematic.' "

When Schomer and Vivace's other owner, Geneva Sullivan, got divorced several years ago, they gave Fairbrother one share of the business, making him the tiebreaker for any future business squabbles.

"He was so perfectly trustable," Sullivan said. "When Brian said something to you, it was a very kind honesty, but you knew you were getting the story. You never had to read between the lines with the man."

Sullivan met Fairbrother in the mid-80s, when he moved to Seattle from Maine and they both danced for the same belly-dancing troupe. He started working for Vivace in 1989, when it was a coffee cart on Capitol Hill.

Fairbrother eventually became general manager over all three of Vivace's locations and directly oversaw its Alley 24 shop. Like all great baristas, Fairbrother easily made conversation, sharing with customers his enthusiasms outside the coffee bar.

He belonged to a Spanish-language book club and was an amazing cook, said Lisa Parsons, who manages Vivace's sidewalk espresso bar at 321 Broadway E.

"I've never known a more intellectually curious person," said Parsons. She said Fairbrother loved the color orange, pagan celebrations including May Day, and traveling to India and Mexico.

"When he first had the accident, a lot of us wore nothing but orange," she said.

In the '90s, Fairbrother commissioned the "Sacred Shrine of Caffeina, Goddess of the Waking Day" that's painted on a rock near the sidewalk espresso bar.

"I'm an urban pagan, and I see the goddess emanating in all sorts of ways," Fairbrother explained.

People who worked with him admired his skill with coffee and people.

"He's iconic as a barista," said Christopher Nicely Abel Alameda, a barista at Intelligentsia Coffee in Los Angeles who used to work for Vivace.

He remembers Fairbrother's response to a neck tattoo Alameda got while he worked there.

"I was actually afraid," Alameda said. "But he said, 'If that's how you express yourself, well then, there it is.' We had people with funny-colored hair, too, but as long as you worked hard, you had that level of protection and encouragement to be yourself."

Fairbrother crashed his bicycle on stairs near 1177 Fairview Ave. N. around 6 p.m. on Aug. 30. He was unconscious but still breathing when medics arrived, according to a Seattle Fire Department report. They took him to Harborview Medical Center, where he died Thursday.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Ahh, this did my heart good. A physician-poet who writes a humorous parody of Dante -- make sure to follow the link and read the poem. It's pretty amazing, in terza rima, too!

The scoop: Doctor wins national humor poetry contest

Local physician John Harris never considered himself a poet, but he indulged his writerly side on a burst of inspiration and won national recognition in the process.
Harris' poem, "The Flight Line Commedia," won the 2011 Wergle Flomp Humor Poetry Contest, earning him $1,500 and, as he describes it, "a nice shirt I'll proudly wear to the tennis court."
Based on Dante's "Divine Comedy," the poem uses Dante's style of terza rima - an interlocking three-line rhyme scheme- to mock the difficulties of air travel, imagining comeuppances for stingy airline executives and pushy, impatient passengers.
Harris, 63, said the idea came to him after a hellish airplane trip. "What would Dante have done?" Harris said he thought to himself.
He worked on the poem for about four months and says he's considering having it illustrated and self-publishing it in book form. He says he doesn't plan on writing again "unless I get the urge to trash 'The Odyssey.' "

To read "The Flightline Commedia," go online to

Saturday, September 03, 2011

A really interesting passage from a long poem: "Outremer" by Fanny Howe, up on PoFo:


There has been a phenomenon,
known only to a few, in certain high mountains,
called the Brocken Specter. It shows the magnified form
of a person woven into lower mists.
This voluminous human figure takes on a trinitarian shape,
and the head of it is surrounded by glory, a rain halo.
The figure looms in the sky, moves forward towards you
and then evaporates and is gone.
It bears an astonishing resemblance to visions of the Christ.
But it can all be explained by sun streaks
shooting towards an anti-solar spot,
and the projection of your own shadow upon the mist.
Your shadow is the looming figure,
and the sun forms the halo in the soft rain.

I think the supernatural is all the more wonderful
when it is natural; it can be analyzed from so many angles.


and from later in the poem . . .

People want to be poets for reasons
that have little to do with language.
It is the life of the poet that they want, I think.
Even the glow of loneliness and humiliation.
To walk in the gutter with a bottle of wine.
Noetic monasticism.

Some people’s lives are more poetic than a poem,
and Francis is the proof of this.
I know, because he walked at my side for a short time.


Thursday, September 01, 2011

From yesterday's Writer's Almanac:
This poem captures the feeling so well . . .

by Linda Pastan

it rained in my sleep
and in the morning the fields were wet

I dreamed of artillery
of the thunder of horses

in the morning the fields were strewn
with twigs and leaves

as if after a battle
or a sudden journey

I went to sleep in the summer
I dreamed of rain

in the morning the fields were wet
and it was autumn


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Friday, August 19, 2011

Rick Perry Gay?

Ahh, politics. Only in America can something as innocent as eating a corndog become fodder for so much good humor:

Deep Throat: photo of Perry and a corn dog won't help with the gay rumors.

Check out the full article. It includes links to Michelle Bachman going down on a corn dog of her own. It is just too funny!

Friday, August 12, 2011

I liked this poem from yesterday's Poetry Daily:


Perhaps it's a thread that needs to be pulled,
a single stitch caught in the crux.

Whole word in French and Spanish,
vertical axis of Cartesian three

loaning its fragile branch to a boy
in theory. On y va. Let's go There.

What happens to unrepaired sequences
in subsequent generations? Semivowel,

blown umbrella, arrow reversed in wind,
frizzy blot of genetic code directing the symphony

of a trillion sperm, a single Y ... might fold over,
line up these similar patches of genetic sequence,

and then accidentally delete everything
that lies in between. Je est un autre.

If the face is a christening in flesh,
the boy of him is its opposite,

raising the tent of bones in which
he will harbor all the starry anomalies

that a knowledge of God cannot undo.

Antioch Review
Summer 2011

Monday, August 08, 2011

The Joy of Cooking

I recently started a subscription to One Story. It's this cool literary magazine, where for one dollar per issue, you get one short story (in small, offset, saddle-stapled chapbook form), written by a new or established writer, mailed to you every 3-4 weeks. My first issue was "The Joy of Cooking" by Elissa Schappell, and it was a hoot, such a good read. I am thinking of doubling down and extending my subscription to two years.

In "The Joy of Cooking" a mother is trying to explain a "family recipe" to her daughter over the telephone, bringing up the entire family history of love, divorce, anorexia, sibling rivalry, etc, in the process. There is tight, funny, heartrending dialogue (both spoken and interior), and the story just zips along (after all it's the length of a phone call/recipe).

Highly recommended. Check out the One Story website here.


I've also just finished reading The Hypnotist, by Lars Kepler. It is supposed to be the next in line in the Swedish Crime/Thriller genre, in the vein of Steig Larrson's Millennium Trilogy. The author's name is actually a pseudonym for the husband-wife team who wrote the book (it's their first collaboration). It's uneven, but definitely worth the read. The chapters are very short, 3-4 pages long for the most part, and the story moves at a rapid clip, until in the middle of the book there is a 80-100 page extended flashback (almost a novella in its own right). At first I was annoyed at the change of pace, but in my opinion it totally works, lending depth and dimension to the characters and plot. My favorite scenes are the ones that take place in group therapy, with the hypnotized subjects appearing as if underwater, with bubbles coming out of their mouths and seaweed and sea creatures floating by. An image that returns to great effect in the stunning finale. Check it out!


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Enjoyed this article over at PoFo. Who knew Elizabethan sonnets could be so fun, and modern?

An Elizabethan plays a Modernist language game

Sir Philip Sidney is a key figure of the Elizabethan era, the fountainhead of the modern poetic tradition. He was born in 1554 in Kent, England, around the same time that the first sonnets in English (by Sir Thomas Wyatt) were posthumously published. Sidney was the contemporary of Walter Raleigh, Edmund Spenser, Fulke Greville, and William Shakespeare, among others: poets who occupied the vanguard of Tudor society as courtiers, soldiers, diplomats, and explorers. Poetry was almost inextricable from song—most gentlemen-poets could play a passable lute, much the way learning guitar is a rite of passage today—and the language itself was still young: unstandardized, mongrelized, and versatile. It lent itself readily to creative uses, and the challenge was met by poets who lived in a sparkling societal milieu where games—tournaments, sports, theater, dance—flourished.

That is to say, the Renaissance poets played games with language. They did so from the baseline of the Petrarchan sonnet, and Sir Philip Sidney stands out because he both played and commented on the playing—imitated Petrarch and criticized Petrarch—while mastering the form. His prose treatise, A Defence of Poesy, still influences what we perceive as the finest poetry, that which Wallace Stevens called the supreme fiction. This alone justifies Sidney’s claim as the first major poet-critic in English; but what makes him particularly modern—or perhaps what makes us particularly Sidneyan—is that his landmark sonnet sequence, Astrophil and Stella, incorporates the conflict between the poet and the critic, the stylist and the chastiser of style, in the sequence itself. Detractors of the self-reflexive tendencies of contemporary poetry (epitomized by, say, John Ashbery) call it postmodernist, or deconstructive, and it has become common to deplore the artifice and playfulness of a poetry born from the premise that language is "slippery"—as likely to elude our meanings as give meaning to experience. But Sidney was one of our predecessors, and this is nowhere more evident than in Sonnet 63 of Astrophil and Stella.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The entire country is under a heat wave. But what do we have in Seattle? Cool, with showers. In July? Arrrrghhhh.

Here is what they say we have coming the next few days, read it and weep . . .

Tonight...Cloudy with light rain or drizzle at times...mainly north part. Lows in the 50s. Southwest wind 10 to 20 mph except becoming northwest 5 to 15 mph in the north part.

Wednesday...Cloudy with a chance of light rain or drizzle. Highs in the 60s. Southwest wind 10 to 15 mph.

Wednesday Night...Cloudy with an increasing chance of showers...becoming likely after midnight. Lows in the 50s. Southwest wind 5 to 15 mph.

Thursday...Showers likely in the morning. Partly sunny with a chance of showers in the afternoon. Highs in the 60s. Southwest wind to 10 mph becoming northwest.

Thursday Night...Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. Lows in the upper 40s to mid 50s. Northwest wind to 10 mph.

Friday...Partly cloudy. Highs 65 to 70.

Friday Night Through Sunday...Mostly clear. Lows in the lower to mid 50s. Highs in the lower to mid 70s.

Sunday Night Through Monday...Mostly cloudy. Lows in the mid 50s. Highs in the lower 70s.

Monday Night And Tuesday...Mostly cloudy with a chance of showers. Lows in the 50s. Highs near 70.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Funny, dark poem from today's Poem a Day. It would do Brian Turner proud, I think:

Trip Hop
by Geoffrey Brock

I'll pack my toothbrush
and my cyanide molar
the iPhone the car-seats
and a tactical stroller

I'll pack a snack-bag
with the Kraft food groups
and white flags for me
and black for my troops

I'll pack a fresh pack
of Shark double-edge blades
my boy's Razr scooter
and my girl's blue shades

I'll pack doses of patience
and some Kevlar smiles
check our air and our fluids
our gauges and dials

and we'll hit I-40
in our old green Accord
there'll be collateral damage
and we might get bored

but we won't need TomTom
to know where we're headed
a theme park they dream of
a theme park I've dreaded

and if we ever get home
and if our home still stands
I'll unpack my dark heart
and Purell my hands.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I really enjoyed this poem from today's RealPoetik. For the ongoing "mid-life" crisis in all of us.

or Dawn of the Dead and Zombies—I don’t care.
“Department of Redundancy Department,”
I say in my most cheerful bitter phone voice,
though I’m not at work and my Blackberry’s off.
I lie—and it lays—on the couch, both of us
oddly perfect, like a pinball and a cloud.
I find I’m to bed on the late side these days
(television test patterns having vanished)
but I could always get there earlier
were there reason enough—say, one—to do so.
You say “tomato”; I say “Don’t tase me, bro!”
Have I got an obituary for me:
b. 1970; d. 19-something;
lives in California with his family.

Graham Foust lives in Oakland and works at Saint Mary's College of California.  His most recent book is A Mouth in California (Flood Editions, 2009).

RealPoetik mailing list

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Wine, Poetry, Virtue

Be Drunk
by Charles Baudelaire
translated by Louis Simpson

You have to be always drunk. That's all there is to it—it's the only way. So as not to feel the horrible burden of time that breaks your back and bends you to the earth, you have to be continually drunk.

But on what? Wine, poetry or virtue, as you wish. But be drunk.

And if sometimes, on the steps of a palace or the green grass of a ditch, in the mournful solitude of your room, you wake again, drunkenness already diminishing or gone, ask the wind, the wave, the star, the bird, the clock, everything that is flying, everything that is groaning, everything that is rolling, everything that is singing, everything that is speaking. . .ask what time it is and wind, wave, star, bird, clock will answer you: "It is time to be drunk! So as not to be the martyred slaves of time, be drunk, be continually drunk! On wine, on poetry or on virtue as you wish."


Monday, July 04, 2011

Gaga Taratata

Wow -- another amazing pared-down, voice-and-piano-only version of this great song, from the Taratata show in France.

EOG is, I hear, on its way to becoming a country hit as well.
Listen here to a few of the many country cover versions on you tube.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Heart NY!

Yay for Marriage Equality in NY! It's another step in the long and winding road. Keep your eyes on the prize! I don't mind at all the waivers for religious groups, who are allowed to refuse to host gay nuptials, based on religious grounds. In fact, I think marriage should be completely separate from religion: it should be a secular civil ceremony and equal for all, with full legal rights and responsibilities. A religious ceremony, if you want one, should be a completely separate (and optional) thing, with no legal bearing. And if your religion doesn't support gay marriage-- then leave the haters behind and find a new religion. :)


And speaking of things gay -- check out the GLTBQ page up for Pride Month at The Academy site:

Celebrate pride and explore the rich tradition of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer poets and poetry through a showcase of audio, video, poetry, and prose—resources as exciting and diverse as the communities they represent.


Friday, June 24, 2011

Check out this poem from Lee Robinson's book Hearsay (Fordham 2004), lent to me by a poet friend at one of our "poetry lunches" the other day. I love how Robinson takes the common language of trial law (she was an attorney for 20 years) and turns it upside down and inside out, making it new again. It's really terrific.

The Rules of Evidence

What you want to say most
is inadmissible.
Say it anyway.
Say it again.
What they tell you is irrelevant
can’t be denied and will
eventually be heard.
Every question
is a leading question.
Ask it anyway, then expect
what you won’t get.
There is no such thing
as the original
so you’ll have to make do
with a reasonable facsimile.
The history of the world
is hearsay. Hear it.
The whole truth
is unspeakable
and nothing but the truth
is a lie.
I swear this.
My oath is a kiss.
I swear
by everything


I confess I missed this book when it first came out. But I am happy to have been turned on to it by a friend -- sometimes that is the best way to "discover" a new voice.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

For the Solstice

What better way to mark the longest day of the year than with poetry?

A Longing for the Light
June 21, 2011

Heather McHugh, Michael Dickman,
Alberto Rios, and Sarah Lindsay

ACT Theatre, Seattle
$25 general; $10 student; $100 reception

This event helps support Copper Canyon and all the fine work they do. Hope to see you there!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Weiner-free Zone

The funniest headline today: "Boehner Reacts to Weiner Scandal" HAHAHAHA.

But seriously, can we *please* return to talking about the issues?

War is not Peace.
The Stock Market is not the Economy.
Insurance is not Health.
Wealth is not Prosperity.
Fundamentalism is not Liberty.

Think about it.


Thursday, June 09, 2011

Wonderful, thoughtful, ironic, insightful essay-review by Joel Brouwer over at Po-Fo: it makes me want to read each of these books. Check it out--

In Praise of Promiscuous Thinking
On Charles Bernstein’s Attack of the Difficult Poems and David Orr’s Beautiful and Pointless.


Sunday, June 05, 2011

Arty Iron Railing

Thank you to friend and fellow poet-doc Ted McMahon for building this wonderful whimsical arty iron railing for our front steps! Dean and I helped install it over the weekend. I think it is just fabulous! Don't you?

Friday, June 03, 2011

Does This Poem Make Me Look Gay?

Gay Poetry, Politics, Poetics. What does it all mean? Check out the new issue of Beloit Poetry Journal and the symposium/discussion featuring Jeff Crandall, Garth Greenwall, moi, and Brian Teare. There are also lots of cool poems in this issue, including "when your grandmother mistakes your girlfriend for a man" by Marty McConnell, and more. Then log on to the BPJ website and join the conversation, or a least leave a comment and/or love note and/or flame.


Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy Memorial Day: please watch this short film about the plight of homeless vets. It made me wonder what it really means to "pay respects" to service men and women, and the long term consequences of these dumb wars our country is always getting tangled up in.

WHEN I CAME HOME is a film about homeless veterans in America: from those who served in Vietnam to those returning from the current war in Iraq. The film looks at the challenges faced by returning combat veterans and the battle many must fight for the benefits promised to them. Through the story of Herold Noel, an Iraq War veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and living in his car in Brooklyn, WHEN I CAME HOME reveals a failing system and the veteran's struggle to survive after returning from the war.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

From today's Poem a Day. I love the magic realism of this.

The Aerodynamics
by Rick Bursky

The night she walked to the house
she held a string; on the other end,
fifty-three feet in the air, a kite.
Wind provided the aerodynamics.
Does every collaboration
need to be explained?
She tied the string to the mailbox
left the kite to float until morning.
Every night this happens.
She sleeps, I listen, darkness
slides through us both.

The next morning
the string still curved into the sky
but the kite was gone.
This was the morning
newspapers announced
the Mona Lisa was stolen.
This was the morning
it snowed in Los Angeles,
the morning I wore gloves
to pull from the sky
fifty-three feet of frozen string.


Saturday, May 28, 2011

Born This Way, Special Edition, quick review

I bought the Special Edition (3 extra songs, plus 5 remixes) of Lady Gaga's new album Born This Way the other day, and have played it through a half dozen times now. It's really good! A bit less pop, a bit more rock/metal than I was expecting. Impressive amount of variety. Something here for everybody.

Some favorites so far (that have not had wide radio play *yet*):

"Americano" Great klezmer-Gypsy-like rhythms, about a possible LA-based, lesbian love affair?
"Hair" This has perhaps a little to do with the 60's hippie anthem, and being a free spirit. I could see it being done on Glee.
"Scheibe" Gaga sings in scary robotic German on this Euro-techno-disco masterpiece, about being a strong woman. (I think Schiebe might be a derogatory term for a woman in German?)
"Black Jesus+Amen Fashion" Jesus is the new black. HA!
"Heavy Metal Lover" I want your wiskey mouth/All over my blonde south. (oh my!)
"Electric Chapel" Smooth cruising love song, over a driving electric guitar riff.
"You and I" Wow. Almost a country twang going on here, a love song full of nostalgia for her ex-boyfriend, heavy metal drummer Luc Carl.
"The Edge of Glory" this song premiered on American Idol, and it was f**cking amazing. I think I have played it 20 times now on the CD. Dean thinks I am on the edge.

Highly recommended!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Bees Beeing

Dean and I had a good time at the Bradner Plant sale yesterday. It was a cool and cloudy day, unseasonable even for Seattle. But it was good to see so many friends and neighbors there! We are so lucky to live next door to such a wonderful pea-patch garden. We picked out a few heirloom tomatoes -- Black Zebra, Green Zebra, Mr. Stripey -- and also a few perennials for the shade garden. Had coffee and snacks and chit chatted.

And today, the bees are coming! The bees are coming! There are several bee boxes being set up in the park, in their own little bee house, and I think today is when the queen arrives.

It makes me think of Sylvia Plath and her bee poems:

The Arrival of the Bee Box

I ordered this, clean wood box
Square as a chair and almost too heavy to lift.
I would say it was the coffin of a midget
Or a square baby
Were there not such a din in it.

The box is locked, it is dangerous.
I have to live with it overnight
And I can't keep away from it.
There are no windows, so I can't see what is in there.
There is only a little grid, no exit.

I put my eye to the grid.
It is dark, dark,
With the swarmy feeling of African hands
Minute and shrunk for export,
Black on black, angrily clambering.

How can I let them out?
It is the noise that appalls me most of all,
The unintelligible syllables.
It is like a Roman mob,
Small, taken one by one, but my god, together!

I lay my ear to furious Latin.
I am not a Caesar.
I have simply ordered a box of maniacs.
They can be sent back.
They can die, I need feed them nothing, I am the owner.

I wonder how hungry they are.
I wonder if they would forget me
If I just undid the locks and stood back and turned into a tree.
There is the laburnum, its blond colonnades,
And the petticoats of the cherry.

They might ignore me immediately
In my moon suit and funeral veil.
I am no source of honey
So why should they turn on me?
Tomorrow I will be sweet God, I will set them free.

The box is only temporary.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Lady Gaga performing Judas and Born This Way on the Graham Norton shown. Wow. Just great.

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Can hardly wait to read this new book!

Michael Dickman’s second collection of poems Flies, just out from Copper Canyon Press, debuts at number 14 on this week’s contemporary best seller list. An auspicious start for the poet whose first book, The End of the West, is Copper Canyon’s best-selling debut ever. Dickman, who had a cameo roll opposite his twin brother in Minority Report, won the 2011 Laughlin Award for this collection. He teaches at Princeton. (from Poetry Foundation)


PS: check out Copper Canyon's terrific new website.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Flashback: McCain in the 2008 presidential debate, calling Obama naive for saying he would take out Bin Laden in Pakistan if given the chance. My oh my. Check it out here.


Sunday, May 01, 2011

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Check it out--generate your own version of "This is Just to Say" with this simple online tool. iphone/iPad app coming soon?

William Carlos Williams generator | ThinkStank | @joshmillard

This Is Just To Say

I have condemned
the tangerines
that were beside
the shrine

and which
you were probably
for Eid-al-Fitr

Forgive me
they were tedious
so flat
and so massive



Tuesday, April 26, 2011

So sad, so sad. "Poetry Man" was one of my favorite songs back in the day.

Phoebe Snow, the jazz-pop singer best known for her 1975 hit "Poetry Man," has died at age 60 of complications from a brain hemorrhage she suffered last year.

Talk to me some more
You don't have to go
You're the poetry man
You make things all right . . .


Monday, April 25, 2011

I LOVE this show!
It's my guilty pleasure. The wigs, the costumes, the challenges, the drama ("Untucked!). Can hardly wait to see the grand finale extravaganza eleganza tonight. I hope Raja wins. She is FIERCE, and that's the t.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Moral hypocrisy?

Tea party leader and Orange County GOP official Marilyn Davenport has apologized for sending out a racist image of President Obama as a baby chimp.

From Huffington Post:
According to KABC, Davenport issued a statement late Monday in which she apologized, but stopped short of addressing her future on the committee.

"I humbly apologize and ask for your forgiveness of my unwise behavior," the statement said. "I say unwise because at the time I received and forwarded the email, I didn't stop to think about the historic implications and other examples of how this could be offensive."
In the statement, Davenport also quoted the Bible and said she was "an imperfect Christian" who tried to "live a Christ-like honoring life."
"I would never do anything to intentionally harm or berate others regardless of ethnicity," she said. "I will not repeat this error."

I am not going to repost the crappy picture. Basically it shows an ape mom and dad, holding their ape child, with Obama's face pasted over it, and the caption, "this is why there is no birth certificate." How could any public official ever think this was appropriate?

Hmmmm, and the Tea Party and Birthers say they are not racist? Hmmmmm. And her apology only sounds like she is sorry for being caught. She doesn't denounce the image. Christ-like? Hardly.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Republican Fascists?

I love this comment from today's Huffington Post, about the fascist budget Ryan and the Republicans have passed in the house, that essentially transfers TRILLIONS of dollars from the pockets of working people and the elderly, to the coffers of business tycoons. Be afraid. Be very afraid. Then get mad as hell and protest and make it stop!

"When they came for the MediCare, I said nothing because I was not on MediCare. When they came for the Social Security, I said nothing because I am over 55. When they came for the food stamps, I said nothing because I was not on food stamps. When they came for children's aid programs, I said nothing because my kids are grown. When they came for the unions, I said nothing because I was not in a union. When they came for Women's rights, I said nothing because I am not a Woman. When they came for education, I said nothing because I had already graduated. When they came to disenfranchise minority voters, I said nothing because I'm White. When they came for the "fracking" leases, I said nothing because I didn't live in the area. When they came for another war, I said nothing because I'm not in the military. When they came for Civil Rights, I said nothing because I didn't want to be called unpatriotic. OH NO! They're coming for me! Where is everybody? Oh...............right."

Representative Ryan Puts the Republicans on the Record
For years people have accused the Republican Party of being the servants of the rich and powerful at the expense of the broader public. In the past, they would deny this charge and claim that they just had a different view of how the economy works. But Paul Ryan has eliminated any confusion on this point. He proposed, and last week the Republican House approved, a budget bill that will transfer tens of trillions of dollars from ordinary working people to the insurance industry, the pharmaceutical industry and generic rich people from any industry.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Some great readings coming up the next few days in Seattle. Hope to see you there!

SHE WALKS IN BEAUTY Seattle Reading: Kathleen Flenniken, Jourdan Imani Keith, Rebecca Loudon, Colleen J. McElroy, Susan Rich
April 17, 2011
7:00 p.m.

Barnes & Noble Booksellers, University Village
2675 NE University Village Street


What’s So Funny About Peace, Love and Understanding?
Wednesday, April 20, 2011 - 7:00pm Richard Hugo House
Nuclear disaster, oil spills, global warming—these are no longer plots of sci-fi films and apocalyptic literature, but real threats that our world faces as the burning of fossil fuels and deforestation become more and more prevalent.

Doctor and Copper Canyon Press poet Peter Pereira; Kathleen Flenniken, a former civil engineer and author of "Plume," a collection of poetry about the Hanford Nuclear Site; Judith Roche, whose poetry about the life cycle of Pacific Northwest salmon can be heard at the Ballard Locks; and poet and beekeeper Bob Redmond talk and read poems about the destruction and healing of our natural world.

The reading is free. Books from the authors will be available for purchase, and the bar will be open.


Every Dress a Decision

Book release readings for Elizabeth Austen's new book! Don't you just love this cover! (FYI, the poems are great, too).

April 28th 7PM @ Cheap Wine and Poetry, Richard Hugo House
May 6th 7:30 PM @ Open Books


Saturday, April 16, 2011

I love this poem from today's Poem-A-Day. What humor, and music! The title, of course, from Shakespeare. And the poem itself a wonderful modern commentary on the sonnet it references. Such good medicine.

My love is as a fever, longing still
by Christopher Bursk

It didn't take a Harvard Medical School degree
to detect you and I were not lovers destined to wed
but two viruses doing their best to infect each other,
two fevers that'd spread, different symptoms of the same
sickness. Past cure I am, now reason is past care.
Did I really wish to die? The doctor dismissed me
with the professional ease with which one might swat a fly,
as if for the fly's own good. So what
if you loved me more intimately than anyone ever would?
A cancer cell could say that of any body
it refused to let go. Once the heart was infected,
how could it be corrected? So what was I waiting for?
The truth is, the doctor smiled,
the microbe adores the flesh it's dating.


from The Infatuations and Infidelities of Pronouns, published by Bright Hill Press.


I was searching again for the ICD-9 code for "second hand tobacco smoke exposure" the other day in clinic. I've been frustrated that I can never find it--only an "E code. I had a spare moment and googled it, and found out the reason why the code is so hard to find: The tobacco industry has SUED to prevent this code from being established! Can you believe it?! The powerful tobacco lobby can just say a problem doesn't exist, and prevent doctors from coding it in patient's medical records, just because they have the money and the lawyers. I was incensed. Read more about the evil being done by Phillip Morris here:

A new medical diagnostic code for secondhand smoke exposure became available in 1994, but as of 2004 it remained an invalid entry on a common medical form. Soon after the code appeared, Philip Morris hired a Washington consultant to influence the governmental process for creating and using medical codes. Tobacco industry documents reveal that Philip Morris budgeted more than $2 million for this "ICD-9 Project." Tactics to prevent adoption of the new code included third-party lobbying, Paperwork Reduction Act challenges, and backing an alternative coding arrangement. Philip Morris’s reaction reveals the importance of policy decisions related to data collection and paperwork.

It looks like the code is being set to be included in the new ICD-10 when it comes out. Watch for the tobacco lobby to increase their attacks (and line the pockets of many lawyers).

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Reading Frank O'Hara at 11th and Pine

. . . amid campy posters and traffic noise. This was really fun to do. Check out the video on YouTube:

Thank you to Joe Lambert, Brian MacGuigan, and the folks at Hugo House. You can see the whole series from the My Favorite Poem project here.

Friday, April 01, 2011

Poetry Fool

Happy April Fool's Day! Or is it Happy Poetry Month? Hmm, maybe they are one in the same?

Here is a list of a few of the things going on in the Seattle area (from the Seattle Times):

10 ways to celebrate National Poetry Month

"Poetry & Hot Toddies": Some of the city's finest thespians — Clayton and Susan Corzatte, Richard Ziman, and the mother-daughter team of Mary Ewald and Elena Kazanjian — will read works by their favorite poets. 8 p.m. Friday-Saturday. New City Theater, 1404 18th Ave., Seattle; $8 (800-838-3006 or

Poetry in Fremont: Join the Washington Poets Association for poetry from local poets Peter Pereira, Dennis Caswell and Joan Swift. 2 p.m. Saturday, Fremont Library, 731 N. 35th St., Seattle; free (206-684-4084).

"Theatrepoems": A festival of poems that were created in one day by 11 directors and 43 collaborators. 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday, Theatre4, fourth floor, Center House, Seattle Center; $9-$12 (800-838-3006 or

Copper Canyon Press Poetry Reading: A benefit for Copper Canyon Press, this is a group reading by Chris Abani, Chase Twichell, Lucia Perillo and Jean Valentine, 7 p.m. Tuesday, Town Hall, 1119 Eighth Ave., Seattle, $10-$25 (800-838-3006 or

Billy Collins: Former U.S. Poet Laureate reads from his new book of poems, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Elliott Bay Bookstore, 1521 10th Ave., Seattle (206-624-6600 or

William O'Daly: The author reads from his translations of Pablo Neruda's poetry, as well as his own work, 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Open Books, 2414 N. 45th St., Seattle (206-633-0811 or

Poetry potluck: Celebrate National Poetry Month by sharing favorite poems with other library users, 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Ballard Library, 5614 22nd Ave. N.W., Seattle (206-684-4089 or

Workshops with Rebecca Meredith: Redmond Poet Laureate Rebecca Meredith will lead two poetry-writing workshops: Teen session is 10 a.m.-noon April 9, adult session is 10 a.m.-noon April 16, Redmond Library, 15990 N.E. 85th, Redmond (425-885-1861 or

Caroline Kennedy: The editor reads from "She Walks in Beauty," her new collection of works by other poets. 7 p.m. April 11, Third Place Books, 17171 Bothell Way N.E., Lake Forest Park (206-366-3333 or

"A Good Line: Artists on Poems": A gallery exhibition of art based on poems in celebration of National Poetry Month. Opens 6-9 p.m. April 12 (runs through April 30), Richard Hugo House, 1634 11th Ave., Seattle (206-322-7030 or

Brian Turner, Major Jackson, Susan Rich: Part of Seattle Arts & Lectures' "Poetry Series," 7:30 p.m. April 14, Benaroya Hall, 200 University St., Seattle, $20-$50 (206-621-2230 or

Joan Swift and Julene Tripp Weaver: The authors read from their work, 3 p.m. April 17, Open Books, 2414 N. 45th St., Seattle (206-633-0811 or

Anne Pitkin and Ed Harkness: Two local poets read from their books. 7 p.m. April 20, University Bookstore, 4326 University Way N.E., Seattle (206-634-3400 or


In other news, looks like the Tea Party has peaked: I am so relieved!

The Tea Party roared Thursday. Or, it tried to, but it wasn't clear how well its demands were heard on Capitol Hill.

A couple hundred anti-tax activists braved a chilly drizzle outside the Senate in an unimpressive scene that was a far cry from the throngs that overflowed the Capitol grounds in past rallies.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

OMG: watching this video made my blood go cold. You think the rushing water has peaked in its rise, and then it keeps coming, it keeps coming. The stuff of nightmares.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

World Poetry Day

World Poetry Day was March 21. How did I miss this?

THE United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in 1999, designated March 21 each year to be observed as World Poetry Day. The first World Poetry Day was held on March 21, 2000.

Since 2000, World Poetry Day has provided the needed venue to express appreciation and support for poets and poetry around the globe. Representatives of government agencies, educators, community groups, and poetry enthusiasts work and gather together on this day to promote the teaching, reading, writing, and publishing of poetry. Their activities include introducing young children to poetry and taking up lessons related to poetry in classrooms; inviting poets to read and share their works with audiences at book stores, cafés, and university and school forums; mounting exhibits and holding poetry evenings to showcase the work of various poets; and organizing poetry writing contests.


Ah well. At least we had a delightful poetry group meeting the next evening, March 22. Great poems all around, gales of laughter, glasses of wine, fresh flowers, and good cheer. I LOVE our group!


Saturday, March 19, 2011

This sounds fun; I hear there are still some open spots:

Study Poetry, Letterpress Printing and Binding with J.W. Marshall and Jules Remedios Faye (starts April 4, and meet Mondays from 6:30 to 9:30 pm; $495.)
Join beloved local poet J.W. (John) Marshall of Open Books and legendary letterpress printer Jules Remedios Faye for an inspirational writing, printing, and book binding class in the School of Visual Concepts’ letterpress studio. John will lead students through the creative writing process, focusing on use of the image in short poetry or prose pieces appropriately sized for in-class letter press printing. Jules will instruct students in the magic of printing and hand-binding. The end result will be a collaborative limited-edition hand-printed, hand-bound book which includes a piece by each student.

Here’s what John has to say about the class: “There is a wonderful bit of education to be had when a person type-sets a poem they've written. That tactile relationship to the chosen word really provides an uncommon perspective. Plus I've taken a couple of printing classes from Jules and promise that she is an amazing teacher, printer, and person.” Registration info


Huskies beat Georgia to make it to the round of 32. We have Sweet 16, Elite 8, Final 4. What to we call the round of 32? The "Through 32?"