WordsWest 30 - Sharon Bryan and Gretchen Schrafft / Favorite Poem by West Seattle Food Bank Volunteer Liz Heller
It was a lively crowd for a dark November night as WordsWest hosted poet Sharon Bryan and fiction writer Gretchen Schrafft for a night of fine words and divine baked goods! Being so close to Thanksgiving at a time of year when fortunate people often gather together to share great food, this event included a bake sale with 100% of the proceeds donated to the West Seattle Food Bank (we raised $111.00!). As always, it was fascinating to hear how the writers' work meshed or branched off in exciting directions as they took turns at the mic. Gretchen had the added challenge of breaking up her short story--about a reunion between a troubled brother and sister--into three separate sections, while Sharon read at intervals three to five poems (especially striking was Sharon's bad ass "bee poems" series about a wasps' nest in a tree outside her window!).As part of the West Seattle Favorite Poem Project, we got to hear Shakespeare's "Epilogue" from The Tempest from West Seattle Food Bank volunteer Liz Heller. She did an amazing job sharing her poem and talking about the important work the West Seattle Food Bank does for the community.
WordsWest celebrated Filipino American History Month by welcoming two outstanding, local writers of Filipino descent---Roberto Ascalon and Robert Francis Flor. In trademark WordsWest style, the two writers traded off reading their poetry in five-minute segments, "braiding" their poems together with fascinating connections of common history that branched into current themes of what it means to be "home and away" in this country. Roberto shared long, vivid and rhythmic poems that ranged even into Filipino fish markets, and Robert read from his chapbook "Alaskero Memories" about life in Alaskan canneries in the 1950's and '60s. As co-curator and emcee Harold Taw mentioned in his introduction, the writers are both "Uncle Bobs" in a culture that gives great respect to the words and lessons of previous generations, and that acknowledges the importance of family and sharing amazing food.
This month's Favorite Poem was read by Alexis Acciani of Reading Partners, an organization that connects one-on-one volunteer tutors with kids who struggle with reading. Alexis gave us a lively, lovely reading of Billy Collins' poem "On Turning Ten." Let's hope there are more new volunteers out there for Reading Partners! The evening ended with a Question & Answer session wherein Roberto and Robert talked about how they became poets as well as about their family histories and backgrounds.
WordsWest 28 - Daemond Arrindell and Jeanine Walker / Favorite Poem and Handpan by Maketa Born of Maketa Born Consulting
This was our Season 4 Kickoff so we added a unique musical feature: Maketa Born, who presented his favorite poem as part of our "West Seattle Favorite Poem Project," played a mesmerizing drum called a handpan as people walked in and during the intermission. We also provided attendees with "Fridge Lit Lists"--a check list of all our upcoming events for Season 4!--and specially made WordsWest fridge magnets so everyone can make sure their literary nourishment needs are met in the months to come.
Daemond Arrindell and Jeanine Walker read their work in a "braided" style---each reading about 3 poems, then trading off. Neither poet planned plan ahead exactly what they’d read but instead brought their manuscripts of poems and chose poems based on what the previous reader read, so that the images and themes bounced and echoed off each other. It was magical! Daemond had a lot of bird imagery, so Jeanine found a bird poem to contribute. Where Jeanine's poem mentioned her relationship with her father, Daemond read a poem that related to his father, then his mother. The poets interacted, talked and admired each other poems in a living, never-to-be duplicated collaboration.
We then had Maketa read his favorite poem and tell us why it is a favorite. It was a stunning poem ( "Barefoot Stroll" by Mariahadessa Ekere Tallie) which he'd known for 15 years when he himself was first learning to write and love poetry.
After intermission, in which Maketa played more music, we reunited for a brief question and answer session with the writers. The theme of the evening was "Rhythm, Voice and Power" so the writers talked about how the physical arrangement of words on the page can affect how a poem is read aloud. The audience jumped in with fascinating questions about the craft of writing. In particular how rhythm and sound effect how we compose a poem. No one wanted the night to end.
Below are audio excerpts from the evening. Due to technical glitches, we were able to record only one poem each by Daemond and Jeanine, and Maketa's Favorite Poem.
WordsWest 27 - Sundee T. Frazier and Kazu Kibuishi / Favorite Poem and Book Sales by Jenny Cole of Page 2 Books
On June 14, 2017, WordsWest hosted a Kids Night of Invention and Adventure, featuring novelist Sundee T. Frazier (Cleo Edison Oliver) and graphic novelist Kazu Kibuishi (AMULET series). Sundee enchanted the audience with a passage from Cleo's latest book Persuasion Power. Kazu showed used a video screen to show how his graphic novels and art have developed over time, and then used Photoshop to draw and paint a picture live. Co-owner of Burien's Page 2 Books, Jenny Cole, shared a Favorite Poem: "The Purple Cow" by Gelett Burgess. Page 2 Books also presented a summer reading table with a portion of all book proceeds benefiting WordsWest Literary Series!
Below are audio excerpts from the evening.
WordsWest 26 - Laura Da' and Lena Khalaf Tuffaha / Favorite Poem by Kelly Riggle Hower of Pathfinder K-8
On May 17, 2017, award-winning poets Laura Da' and Lena Khalaf Tuffaha reflected on "Disruption and Repair" by exploring pain, silence, cartography, and coffee in poems that moved from broken treaties with Native Americans to leaders denying the existence of Palestinian people. Pathfinder K-8 teacher extraordinaire Kelly Riggle Hower offered two Favorite Poems by William Butler Yeats: "The Circus Animals' Desertion" and "Brown Penny." The audio podcast is below.
WordsWest 25 - Terrance Hayes and Jane Wong / Favorite Poem by Gabrielle Bates and Billie Swift of Open Books
On April 19, 2017, WordsWest celebrated National Poetry Month with National Book Award-winning poet Terrance Hayes and award-winning poet Jane Wong. Gabrielle Bates of Open Books: A Poem Emporium pinched hit the Favorite Poem for an under-the-weather Billie Swift; their joint selection was Shane McCrae's "Still When I Picture It the Face of God Is a White Man's Face."
On March 15, 2017---the Ides of March---WordsWest hosted novelist Donna Miscolta and poet/civil-rights attorney Shankar Narayan, who read work on the topic of "Resistance and Immigration." Christie Vukos-Walker of ACLU of Washington presented a Favorite Poem: "Human Family" by Maya Angelou.
Below is the podcast audio of the evening.
On February 15, 2017, poet Sierra Nelson and poet/playwright/prose writer Ann Teplick shared work about the "Day After Love." Hedgebrook women's writing retreat was the special event sponsor, while Hedgebrook alumna (and WordsWest co-curator) Susan Rich shared a Favorite Poem - "Gate A-4" by Naomi Shihab Nye.
Below are a YouTube excerpt and an audio podcast of the full evening.
WordsWest 22 - Anastacia Renee Tolbert and Claudia Rowe / Favorite Poem by Jane Hodges of Mineral School
Langston Hughes asked America, "What happens to a dream deferred?" On January 18, 2017, the Wednesday between Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and Inauguration Day, journalist/memoirist Claudia Rowe and poet/performance artist/writer Anastacia Renee Tolbert delved into the causes and consequences of "Dreams Deferred." Jane Hodges, founder of the writers' retreat center Mineral School, presented the Favorite Poem: "Eagle Poem," by Joy Harjo.
Below you'll find a YouTube excerpt and the podcast ... though, due to technical difficulties, the audio was not recorded in high-definition and dropped several selections.
WordsWest 21 - Alma García and Imani Sims / Favorite Poem by and Dessert Benefit for West Seattle Food Bank
On November 16, 2016, author Alma García and performance poet Imani Sims provided much needed literary "Nourishment." There were baked goods galore to benefit West Seattle Food Bank, and WS Food Bank volunteer Jean Manwaring presented a Favorite Poem - "Sea Fever" by John Masefield.
Below are a YouTube excerpt and an audio podcast of the full evening.
WordsWest Literary Series
Here's where you'll find information about our past events. For a complete list of past featured writers, favorite poems, and sponsors, consult our "About" page.