Archive for 2011

Here is an awesome blog entry by the Seattle-based poet Dane Kuttler (also my Seattle slam correspondent). Dane gives us a peep into how poets work their way into getting local shows. Enjoy!


Seattle 151, or Freude

Once upon a time, I moved to Seattle to become a better poet. And shortly after I moved, I went to the Seattle Poetry Slam Slammaster, a man named D, and asked him if I could do a feature. I wanted to use the feature to introduce myself to the slam community.

“Nope,” he said cheerfully, as he tallied the night’s scores. “You’re not ready.”
So I went and I worked. I took classes, found mentors, and began to really work on my poetry. I competed in every slam, and went to national events. And after six months, I went back and asked again.
“Nope,” he said again. “Not quite yet. You’re getting better, though.”
So I went and I worked. I began the 365/365 project, placed in the finals of a national written poetry competition, wrote a book, attended more national slams and coached a team. And when I went back to ask again, D said:
“Maybe next year.”
So I went and I worked. I found a publisher for my book and began editing it. I finished the 365/365 project, and made a rough draft of a novel-in-verse. I continued to slam every week, and wrote reviews of the performances. And when I came back from visiting my family over new years, I asked D one more time if I might do a feature sometime, maybe the end of the year.
“Sure,” he said, with a casual tilt of his head. “You’re ready. When do you want to do it?”
Doing a local feature is a little like having a birthday party. It’s a special celebration of a very regular occurrence. I perform poems at the slam every week, but somehow, everyone went out of their way to tell me how much they enjoyed my work, or how much I’d grown.
I even got dressed up in a bona fide party dress. See?
Also, see those tights? If you look at them up close, they have pictures and quotes from Spenser’s The Fairie Queene – making them perhaps the geekiest literary stockings that ever were.
The performance itself was fantastic. Not only was the audience full of people I loved (Joel, Martina, Secret Agent Lover Man and Duncan – my current inner circle of houesmates and loves – made up the entire front row, and beamed at me whenever I looked down), but at least half a dozen people came up to buy books and tell me they’d never been to a slam before. That’s my favorite compliment: “I’ve never seen anything like this, and I love it!”
I performed seven poems – Freude, Names (which is on my website), Shifra The Midwife Speaks to the Protesters Outside Planned Parenthood, Love Me Like A Man (a piece by my friend Lindsay Miller that I was honored to cover), a Raizl/Rachel poem, Man (a new piece), and Bilingual. Four of those pieces were accompanied by my friend and collaborator Mai Li Pittard on guitar and vocals. The music and poetry worked well together, and having Mai Li up on stage was really fun.
I sold a dozen books, and got lots of hugs. It was a great show.
At the end of the night, I felt like this:
Freude. Joy.
*Thanks to Rachel McNary and Jan Pylar for the photos!

The Whirlwind Company is Coming!

An amazing new spoken word tour is hoofing it across the country. Comprised of some of my FAVorite poets, The Whirlwind Company is capable of making you reconsider what you think of spoken word! If you have been reading my blog and thinking, “one of these days, I should check out this spoken word thing,” THIS IS THE SHOW FOR YOU!! I guarantee there will be something for you to love about this night, and likely, lots of things.

Including Brian S Ellis, Mike McGee, Mindy Nettifee, Jon Sands and for this show, Karen Finneyfrock, this night is feast of spoken word styles. Brian and Jon both hail from the East Coast school, Boston and NYC respectively. Mike and Mindy bring in the West Coast flavor with Long Beach and the bay. And I’ll be representing Seattle.

All Ages. PG13. 7pm doors. Fremont Abbey.



A trip to New York City

I just got home from a snowy, poetry trip to NYC!

Monday night, I did an unannounced drop in on Louder Arts at Bar 13 in Union Square. What a night of poetry I walked in on! Jon Sands hosted a night that featured a memorable open mike and slam. I heard poets like Sean Conlon, Patrick Rosal, Lynn Procope, Geoff Kagan Trenchard, Elliott Smith and Adam Falkner.

Tuesday I met with my fabulous literary agent, Dan Lazar, and finally got to tour Writer’s House. I’m embarrassed to say that I was too sheepish to keep snapping photos inside, but rest assured that Writer’s House has as much dark wood paneling and as many marble steps as you would hope to see in a literary agency. The business occupies two adjacent counting houses built by William Waldorf and John Jacob Astor III in 1881. My agent sent me away with a reading list, an idea for a new project and a spring in my step.

Tuesday night, I featured at the Urbana Poetry Slam in the Bowery Poetry Club. I lucked out and performed on the night of a team slam, which means I was treated to performance poems from four venues in the Northeast. I discovered some new voices and heard from old favorites. I thoroughly enjoyed the show start to finish. Yes, that is Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz, Joanna Hoffman, Taylor Mali, Brian “Omni” Dillon, Jon Sands, and Omar Holmon in the photo below!

On Wednesday night, I found myself briefly distressed when my reading partner for the event Page Meets Stage, C.K. Williams was forced to cancel due to the massive snowstorm that coated New York City that day. But, the distress melted away when Shappy Seashotz, poet and comedian, offered to fill in. True, the event became a sort of Stage Meets Stage, but it was also a wonderful night. Shappy is promoting his new book out on Penmanship Books called, “Spoken Nerd Revolution.” If you haven’t seen the Penmanship website, check it out! I also got to meet Bob Holmon, founder of the Bowery Poetry Club, who still practices old school heckling, yelling at Shappy from the audience, “That’s the worst poem I’ve ever heard in my life. The. Worst.”


Taylor Mali, Shappy Seashotz and me

I ended the night watching a snowball fight erupt out of the bar next door and then walking through the streets (NOT sidewalks) of Manhattan in the tire treads of the few cabs that braved the snow. Thank you New York City. You’ve done it again.

Page Meets Stage with C.K. Williams

Next Wednesday, I’ll be taking the stage opposite one of our national poetry treasures, C.K. Williams, in the event Page Meets Stage at the Bowery Poetry Club, NYC.

Created to explore the question, “Where does poetry live?” Page Meets Stage features challenging pairings of poets with spoken word artists. The series is curated by Taylor Mali and held in New York City’s Bowery Poetry Club. Past pairings include: C.D. Wright and Bob Holman, Tony Hoagland and Anis Mojgani, Dorianne Laux and Shira Erlichman, and Billy Collins and Taylor Mali. Read more about past pairings and watch video at the PMS Blog.

Despite the obvious honor and thrill of being paired to read with a great, contemporary poet, I have also found myself paired with anxiety. C.K. Williams is a Pulitzer prize winner and professor at Princeton University. Not just because of his accolades, but because of his work, his application of simplicity and the strength of his voice, I’m intimidated to read with C.K. Williams.

This week, my artist self want to shrink, to hide behind humble deference. How do I plan to handle this challenge? I am reminding myself that my job is to serve the audience. As the poet representing the “Stage” side of the show, I have a duty to represent one of the best lessons of performance poetry: as performers, we have a responsibility to the people listening to our work.The audience doesn’t want to watch me act small or participate in my self-doubt. So, in one week, I plan to bring my whole, flawed self to the stage at the Bowery Poetry Club and fearlessly allow myself to be seen.

Floating Bridge Chapbook Competiion. Get published Washington State!

The 16th Annual Floating Bridge Press Poetry Chapbook Competition is open for submissions until February 16, 2011.  If you are a current resident of Washington State, you may submit a chapbook manuscript of up to 24 pages of poetry with a $12 entry fee.  The winner receives $500, a Seattle reading in September, and 15 copies of the prize-winning chapbook.  Our books are beautiful, archival-quality, perfect-bound, and collectable.

Previous winners include Joannie Kervran Stangeland, Nance Van Winckel, Donna Waidtlow, Molly Tenenbaum, Bart  Baxter, Chris Forhan, Joseph Green, Kelli Russell Agodon, Michael Bonacci, Timothy Kelly, Annette Spaulding-Convy,  Holly J. Hughes,  Nancy Pagh, Katharine Whitcomb, and Laura Read.

Floating Bridge Press considers all individual poems for inclusion in our annual journal, Floating Bridge Review.

For complete guidelines and a look at our titles, please visit



A Nepali Translation

I was so excited to get an email from Bam Dev Sharma, Head of Campus of International Languages for Tribhuvan University, Nepal. Bam Dev Sharma and I met during my recent visit to Nepal and he asked for permission to translate one of my poems into Nepali. Here is the Nepali translation of my poem The Boat House Apartments.

डुंगा घर
गये राती अर्को कोठाका
दम्पती हरुले बास्प कुलित एन्त्र
जस्तै प्रेम गरे
एक अर्का  को मुखमा कर्कशोर
आवाजहरु छ्ता चुल्ल पोख्दै
तर तल्लो तला को मान्छे
तेल भट्टि  जस्तै सुत्यो
आफ्ना लुहाका  फोक्सा हरुलाई
खिया परेका छाती हरुको तौलमा ठडाएर

माथि  तालकि महिला
पुटिला कुर्कुचा हरुले भुइमा चप्पल चलाऊदै थियिन्
जस्तो कि चिसो पानीमा जहाज
कर्कल चि्तकारले हुत्तिएर अगाडि बढ्छ

मेरो आफ्नो योनिक एन्त्र पनि
योनी अङग माथि पुतली जस्तो गून्जन्छ
जस्तो कि म प्रकाश पुन्ज हुँ

एदी मेरो सहरको डेरा घर
भसिएर गहिरो खाडल मा गयो भने
सोह्र वटा आत्मा हरु गुम्ने छन ।

धेरै राती यि भित्ता हरु बाट हराएर
हामीहरु तारा हेर्न सक्दैनौ।

The Boat House Apartments

Tonight the couple in the next room makes love like radiators,

squealing and steaming into each other’s mouths.

The man downstairs sleeps—an oil furnace.

Upstairs, the woman with the meaty ankles

shuffles her slippers over the floor, a wooden ship

aching its cold water. My vibrator acts like a furious

moth, beating itself against my clitoris as if I were a bug light.

The apartment building speaks to us, saying:

I appear to be made of quarry and fist, but I am days,

the nylon thread of nights. You look like people—all made

out of bodies—but you are really hours,

made up only of minutes.

You are gone quick as condensation evaporating off my

cement. Don’t spend yourselves quietly.

You have this one night. Go ahead. Disturb the neighbors.

Bam Dev told me that when he read it in Nepali to a Nepali audience, people said that it sounded close to a Nepalese song, and had a song-like quality. You can check out Bam Dev Sharma’s poetry at his blog, I especially like the poem, The Table.