Puget Sound English Department

April 11, 2011

Poetry on Vashon for Memorial Day

Department faculty recently received this invitation to what sounds like a wonderful event:

April 4th, 2011

Greetings & Happy National Poetry Month!

I’d like to cordially invite you and your students to attend the second biannual weekend-long poetry festival happening Memorial Day weekend, May 27th-30th!

Two years ago, under the leadership of Ron Irvine, owner of the Vashon Winery, we held the first Poetry Fest. The 2009 Festival was highly successful—Sam Green, then poet-Laureate of Washington State, was the featured poet, and stayed through the weekend to offer a workshop and participate in an ‘open mike’ event blending Island and off-Island poets. With him we had a strong range of performers/presenters and well-attended workshops over the weekend of Memorial Day.

Our overall theme/title for the weekend is ‘A Passport to Poetry’ to point to poetry’s power to cross and erase borders and boundaries. Everyone attending the readings and workshops will hold a passport (which we are designing).

Our mission is to bring to Vashon Island from our Northwest region an ongoing, shifting kaleidoscope of poetic styles and voices, bringing the full energy and force of poetic imagination and language to life in our community.

Sam Hamill and Tess Gallagher are our two featured poets who will be attending the festival along with numerous other talented writers. The three-day weekend will consist of many incredible workshops, seminars, and performances.

Times of events, restaurants, and accommodations are available at the Poetry Fest website or you can drop us an email @ info@vashonpoetryfest.com

We look forward to sharing the power of poetry with you, your friends, and family!


Mel Michaels (PR) & Vashon Poetry Fest


April 6, 2011

There are months, and then there are months

If April is, as Eliot famously notes, “the cruelest month,” it is also, perhaps in compensation for nature’s vagaries, National Poetry month. Today, local NPR affiliate KUOW featured conversation about poetry with former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins and local poet Elizabeth Austen. It’s well worth a listen, especially their discussion of ambiguity as the thing that frustrates novice readers but provides the richness and complexity that characterize mature poetry and reward careful scrutiny; Austen pointed out that excessive emotional “clarity” is the hallmark not of poetry, but of sentimentalism.

In other poetic news, local poet and teacher Josie Emmons Turner will be inaugurated as Tacoma’s next Poet Laureate in a free public ceremony and reading on April 28, 2011, from 7-8:30 p.m. at Bellaballs, 747 S. Fawcett St., Tacoma.

Emmons Turner’s two-year term follows those of William Kupinse, Antonio Edwards Jr., and Tammy Robacker. More information on the Poet Laureate program can be found at TacomaCulture.

November 2, 2010

First Book Poetry Contest Winner/Book Release Event Nov. 15

Professor Kupinse forwards the following announcement regarding Exquisite Disarray Publishing, a nonprofit Tacoma press he helped to found. Note that the book release event will take place on Monday, November 15–details below. From the press release:

What Other Choice, Jeremy Halinen’s Debut Book of Poems
Named as Winner of the Exquisite Disarray 2010 First Book Poetry Contest

Tacoma, Wash. – What Other Choice, a poetry collection by Washington State writer Jeremy Halinen, has been selected by Exquisite Disarray Publishing as the winner of its 2010 First Book Poetry Contest.

Exquisite Disarray will publish What Other Choice in November 2010 and showcase Halinen’s work at a reading to be held Monday, November 15 at 7 p.m. in the Olympic Room of the Tacoma Public Library’s main branch, at 1102 Tacoma Avenue South, as part of the Tacoma’s Art at Work Month. The November 15 event, which is free and open to the public, will also recognize the runners-up in the First Book Poetry Contest and announce the winner of a separate “Best Tacoma Poem” Contest.

Describing What Other Choice as “eerily elegant” and possessed of a “beautifully tuned voice,” guest contest judge Kathleen Flenniken selected Halinen’s collection from nine manuscripts forwarded by Exquisite Disarray’s editorial board. Flenniken, herself the author of the Prairie Schooner Book Prize winner Famous and president of Floating Bridge Press, said that Halinen is “a poet who makes me see beauty where I didn’t expect it, not by overlooking ugliness or despair, but by being faithful to it.”

“Since this was the first year of our contest, we were delighted to have such a strong showing of manuscript submissions,” said William Kupinse, president of Exquisite Disarray, a local nonprofit press. The contest was open to all poets residing in Washington State who had not yet published a full-length volume of poetry.

About the poet: Jeremy Halinen was raised in Tacoma, earned an MFA in creative writing from Eastern Washington University and holds a BFA in creative writing from St. Andrews Presbyterian College in Laurinburg, North Carolina. He now resides in Seattle, where he is coeditor and cofounder of Knockout Literary Magazine.

Two poems from Jeremy Halinen’s Debut Collection, What Other Choice

Afternoons above I-5

We used to drop acid
and sit on the overpass
to watch the dragon faces
the cars would make at us
as they raced
beneath our dangling legs.
Cars like it when you’re high enough
above them to notice
more than their surfaces.
It’s the story of their exhaust
they want you to care about,
not their paint jobs
or the treads
on their tires. They want you to lean down
and touch them.
I know what you’re thinking.
It’s dangerous,
what we used to do. But
the cars told us they’d catch us if we fell.
You say, So what if they did?
And you’re right.
There’s always a catch.

Copyright © 2010 Jeremy Halinen

A Brief History of Heavy Petting

It started in the cold, one boy
attempting to pay back another
a debt he thought he owed.

Intended only as a transfer
of heat, it listed soon
into the ark they’d been

waiting for. Deep in the cave
that night, far from the bark
of the moon, both knew it.

This was long before the dawn
of fiction, before their newfound
fortune could be called trespass

or transgression.
They are not alone.

Copyright © 2010 Jeremy Halinen

September 21, 2010

Reminders: Two Thursday evening events with our faculty!

Two essential reminders for your calendars:

1. This Thursday, September 23, please join us in Trimble Forum, where Professor Laurie Frankel will be featured at our informal coffeehouse event. Rumor has it she will be leading a conversation about the publication of her novel, The Atlas of Love, in light of recent media attention on the perhaps unconscious biases toward male authors. Bring your questions and comments, buy a copy of her book and have it signed, nibble a brownie or two. 5:30-7 p.m.

2. The following Thursday, September 30, at 7 p.m., Professor Bill Kupinse will read his work at
Gig Harbor Library (4423 Point Fosdick Dr NW, Gig Harbor, 253-851-3793) as part of the Peninsula Library Poetry Series. Professor Kupinse says, “I’ll be reading older poems from my book Fallow, but also sharing some new work from an in-process verse reinterpretation of The Tower Treasure, the first book in the Hardy Boys series. As anyone who has read the 1927 adventure book knows, The Tower Treasure really is a poem trapped in novel form; my goal is to let it out. Yes, I have my fingers crossed that I’ll attract an eventual lawsuit from Hardy Boys publishers Grosset and Dunlap, now a subsidiary of Pearson; it’s always nice to be noticed.”

Looking ahead, Professor Julie Christoph will be featured at the next “Coffeehouse” Conversation: Monday, October 7, 2010. We’ll keep you updated.

September 7, 2010

Tacoma: Destination for the Arts

Part of Tacoma’s ongoing renaissance involves a strong commitment to the arts–especially efforts to promote and attract independent artists of all kinds to this area. Tacoma’s affordable rents, vibrant youth culture, and a city government that actively endorses arts endeavors, all add up to a city increasingly noteworthy for its growing art scene. To name only a very few bright spots among many, we have the third Thursday Artwalk with free museum admission and open galleries, the recent Spaceworks exhibits, which make use of empty storefronts, TAM’s outstanding programming, and small independent art and letterpresses like Beautiful Angle and Anagram Press.

Many of our faculty are leaders in local arts culture, including Professor and former Tacoma Poet Laureate Bill Kupinse, who send us this update about his not-for-profit literary press, Exquisite Disarray Publishing, created in 2009.

Professor Kupinse writes,

Initially created to publish In Tahoma’s Shadow, an anthology of Tacoma-area poets, Exquisite Disarray is in the process of judging the entries for its first-book contest. (Sorry poets: our reading period for the contest is now closed, though we do hope to run it again next year). Supported by a grant from the Tacoma Arts Commission, the first book contest will allow a previously unpublished Washington State poet to see his or her first book in print. We’ll host a book launch Monday November 15, 2010 at 7 p.m. at the downtown branch of the Tacoma Public library, which will feature a reading and book signing by the winning poet; there will also be an award given for “best Tacoma poem” and some free book giveaways. For more details about Exquisite Disarray, check out our website (www.exquisitedisarray.org) or join our Facebook group.

We’re eager to see the results of this contest, and wish Exquisite Disarray and long and productive existence. And if we’ve inadvertently overlooked your favorite Tacoma arts organization, larger or small, feel free to email us an update for inclusion here!

August 31, 2010

Mark your calendars: Professor Kupinse Reads in Gig Harbor

Professor Bill Kupinse, former Poet Laureate of Tacoma, will be giving a poetry reading Thursday, September 30 at 7 p.m. at the Gig Harbor Library (4423 Point Fosdick Dr NW, Gig Harbor, 253-851-3793) as part of the Peninsula Library Poetry Series. The reading will include older poems from his book Fallow, and some of his new work from an in-process verse reinterpretation of The Tower Treasure, the first book in the Hardy Boys series. Professor Kupinse writes: “As anyone who has read the 1927 adventure book knows, The Tower Treasure really is a poem trapped in novel form; my goal is to let it out. Yes, I have my fingers crossed that I’ll attract an eventual lawsuit from Hardy Boys publishers Grosset and Dunlap, now a subsidiary of Pearson; it’s always nice to be noticed.”

We hope to see many of you there–

May 3, 2010

Poetry Reading by Members of English 403

This semester’s members of English 403, the Poetry Workshop, will present their original work tomorrow night:

Tuesday, May 4
7 p.m.
Origin 23 Coffeeshop

6th/Union in Tacoma
This event is free and open to the public.

February 4, 2010

Last Call for Poetry! (Free!)

For those of you with a free evening tonight, here’s a golden opportunity from Copper Canyon Press to hear 2009 Pulitzer-Prize-winning poet W.S. Merwin, and a group of younger poets:

Our benefit reading, W.S. Merwin & Friends is this Thursday, February 4, 7:00, at Town Hall Seattle. (That’s TONIGHT).

The Seattle Times recommended the event, The Stranger starred it, and it is co-sponsored by the indomitable Elliott Bay Book Company.

1) Some general admission tickets are still available: W.S. Merwin & Friends.

2) Free student tickets are available! Through the generosity of donors from around the country, there are approximately 75 free student tickets to distribute. To claim student tickets (2 per person max, please), send an email to studentcomp@coppercanyonpress.org. In the body of the email include the names to be added to the will call list. Tickets will be held until 10 minutes before the reading, then released as needed.

January 16, 2010

Local Readings by our Talented Faculty!

The semester’s about to begin, bringing with it multiple opportunities to hear readings by our gifted colleagues in the Department.

First off, Professor Ann Putnam offers several chances this month to hear her read from her exquisite memoir, Full Moon at Noontide: A Daughter’s Last Goodbye (SMU Press, $22.50). The book is wise and touching, and in it, Ann addresses the full range of human experience with her characteristic stylistic precision and grace.
Ann will read at Seattle’s famed Elliott Bay Bookstore on Friday, January 22, 7 p.m. Check her website (linked above) or Elliott Bay’s for more information and an excerpt.

If you can’t get to Elliott Bay, you can catch Ann reading at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park, on Tuesday, January 26, also at 7 p.m..

And to keep in mind, Professor Dolen Perkins-Valdez is currently touring in support of her debut novel, Wench (Amistad, $24.99), and will be rejoining us on the left coast in March for readings and a workshop on campus. Wench has already garnered some exceptional reviews, and I’m looking forward to getting a signed copy from its gifted author. Professor Laurie Frankel also has a debut novel in press; more information as it becomes available. The department is planning a campus celebration of our gifted and prolific Creative Writing faculty later this semester…We’ll keep you posted.

September 13, 2009

A Reading of Philip Larkin’s Poem, “Toads”

Filed under: Film and Video,Literature,Poetry Readings — O. @ 8:49 pm

amtoadHere is a link to a reading of Philip Larkin‘s poem, “Toads,”  along with images of the printed text:


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