October 2010

For this posting, I thought I’d share a poem from both of the poets featured in this week’s reading. Both of these poets are excellent readers, so to get the full effect, please join us Friday evening, 7pm, Oct. 29 at the Lucia Douglas Gallery. There will be poetry broadsides from both of the poets for you to take home.

The Old Ones of Saavedra

They don’t have much of anything,
but time? Ah… plenty of that.
So they can squander it like this,
supervising the fine
summer evening, commenting
on the immobile air as they sip
from wet cans of beer,
sitting on wicker stools
at this happy crossroads
of thresholds and sidewalk,
where the younger stroll
on the way to fluorescent pizzerias, malls.
The men in dignified pajama-
bottoms and cotton camisetas, the women
stirring the night with the half-moons
of their fans. The pots of angel hair soup
left to bubble alone inside, with only tin bowls
of white peaches to witness.
Outside, fireflies are keeping the old
people of Saaverdra busy with delight.
Buenos Aires is all that is South
of them, all that is siren
and haste. The city
is everything that has forgotten them,
forgotten the pleasures of wicker stools
or the bliss of callused feet
in house slippers open to summer,
the happening of nothing,
the obstinate scent of jasmine,
Saavedra punctuated by dentureless laugh.

—Lorraine Healy
from The Habit of Buenos Aires, Tebot Bach, 2010


There was a magic about that first winter,
a convergence of energies that swept
the desert like a blood oath,
never to return the same way again.
Playing music in bars drew invitations
for rafting trips through the canyons,
Texas on one side, Mexico on the other,

while gypsy moths flitted in your path:
the woman with dinosaur bones
built into her fireplace, a drug lord’s mistress,
people who lived in buses, caves, dynamite shacks,
jacals made of ocotillo and cattle panel. Their
lives reinvented, cobbled together from old
spare parts and whatever they could scrounge.

Surprise was the rain
falling from a dream you nourished,
a fragrance that chipped and flaked
like a chisel dug up from the Stone Age.
Here was no cop, no stoplight,
and the wind forecast your future,
told all you needed to know.

—Peter Ludwin
from A Guest in All Your Houses, Word Walker Press, 2009

We’ve set up another reading at the Lucia Douglas Gallery. This time it’s Lorraine Healy and Peter Ludwin on Friday, October 29, 7 pm. Lorraine will teach a workshop the following day from 10:30 am to 3 pm. The workshop title: “This Bunch of Flowers and Horseshoes…” What Neruda’s Odes can teach poets. See the Whatcom Poetry Series website for specific details.

The first time I remember hearing Lorraine Healy read was in Eastern Washington. It was a hot evening at a posh winery, and there were several poets sharing their work. Lorraine grew up in Buenos Aires. Her writing is vivid and imaginative, and she carries the listener with her. You’ll be there at the market, walking down a street, or maybe even creating the memories of a first kiss. You’ll be right there. That’s how she writes.

The first time Peter Ludwin visited us at Noon Road, he looked at the fields, and the art, and then fell asleep on a couch, warmed by the fire. His poetry won’t make you fall asleep, but it will make you feel at home, even in a strange place. A few days after Peter got up from the couch, he wrote a poem that included the studio and the fields, and a heron from the art. That made me feel pretty good.

Anyway, I think this reading will be excellent and I hope you will join us.

Frost hit the squash leaves last night,
and began the autumn melt. The fledgling
squashes have little time left. Tomatoes—

forget about them. They’ve been eager
for the earth since their hard, round
seeds were planted in the spring. All

summer, their leaves curled around,
and pointed at the ground. The zucchini
at least attempts to reach skyward,

as if in praise of something worthy.

—Anita K. Boyle

I was exceedingly fortunate to have been present for the Blue River Writers Gathering at the Andrews Experimental Forest in the mountains east of Eugene, Oregon. Sponsored by Oregon State University’s Spring Creek Project, writers came from around the Northwest, as far north as Sitka, Alaska, and as far east as Ithaca, New York. We spent a three-day weekend (Friday, September 24th to Sunday, September 26th) talking to each other, hiking in the old growth, learning about the on-going environmental study of the forest (which I believe is in its sixth decade), and writing. Our group of 24 writers included scientists, non-fiction and fiction writers, as well as poets—each of them established in their genre. Our group discussions were characterized by brilliant, passionate discourse about the role of writers in an era of planetary trauma. All of us had opportunities to share our work. We ate wonderfully catered meals together, and enjoyed daily happy hours with wine, beer and hors d’oeuvres.

Some of the ideas and information we discussed included the importance of writers portraying the world around us in language that readers will find seductive, beautiful or arresting, and the fact that old growth in the Andrews Experimental Forest has been largely spared the ravages of invasive insects due to the rich and diverse population of spiders! I characterize that phenomenon as The Golden Age of Arachnid Culture.

by Charles Goodrich

Charles Goodrich did a terrific job of organizing the Blue River Writers Gathering. Key thinkers at the gathering were philosopher/author Kathleen Dean Moore, David Oates, Ellen Waterston, Sarah van Gelder, who was the keynote speaker, and the always eloquent Tim McNulty. Since returning to Bellingham, I have received a marvelous volume of poems by Ellen Waterston, called Between Desert Seasons, whose poems are set in the high desert region of Bend, Oregon. Ellen is Director of The Nature of Words: Central Oregon’s Premier Literary Event, which will run this year from November 3rd through 7th in Bend.

Here is a list of the books I came home with:
Going to Seed: Dispatches from the Garden, a volume of poetry by Charles Goodrich
Sitka: A Home in the Wild, with text by Carolyn Servid and photographs by Dan Evans
Unfurl, Kite, and Veer, Bill Yake’s gorgeous new volume of poetry
What We Love Will Save Us, a volume of pungent essays by David Oates
Looking for Parts, a CD of poems by Clem Starck
The Crooked River Rises, essays by Ellen Waterston
Temporary Bunk, poems by Lori Anderson Moseman
• The Summer, 2010 water issue of Yes! magazine, Executive Editor Sarah van Gelder
• and a U.S. Department of Agriculture publication titled Invertebrates of the H.J. Andrews Experimental Forest, Western Cascade Range, Oregon, given to me by Andrews Forest scientist Fred Swanson.

The Blue River Writers Gathering is convened every other year, and I hope I’ll have the opportunity to participate in the next one.
—James Bertolino