Writing poems about current political events and ideas is one of the important responsibilities that fall to the poet, and it is not an easy task, and is the reason why I decided to host a couple workshops on this topic. Seattle poets Raúl Sanchez and Jed Myers are scheduled to teach workshops on how to create political poems that welcome your ideas­—and the crucial details of today’s prevalent events. The task is complex and sometimes dreadful, but is clearly a crucial element of being a serious poet. The goal of each of these workshops is to write relevant political poems people will actually want to hear and read. That this is possible is represented in many poets work! Think of Walt Whitman, Valzhyna Mort, Ilya Kaminsky, Allen Ginsberg, Sharon Olds…. Participants will learn from these two dynamic Seattle poets as they discuss methods to clearly portray your point of view in poetry. Jed Myers says, “If it’s true that the personal is political, then poetry must be able to capture the political in the personal facts of experience.”

Date: Saturday, March 9, 2019

Location: Egress Studio, 5581 Noon Road, Bellingham, WA

Workshops #1: Raúl Sanchez­—1:00–3:00pm

Workshops #2: Jed Myers—3:30–5:30pm

Registration: one workshop $25, both workshops $40

Please call Anita K. Boyle at 360-398-7870 or email her at akboyle@egressstudio.com

Registration Deadline: March 6, 2019.

The workshops will be held inside the creatively inspiring Egress Studio. Participants are welcome to walk around the five acres to clear their heads between workshops or even just to take a little break, if necessary, since sometimes politics can be a bit much.

Raúl Sanchez

 

 

 

Raúl Sanchez’s workshop participants will look at poems from two anthologies: Poetry of Resistance and Poets Against the War, as well as specific poems like Martin Espada’s “The Republic of Poetry,” Pablo Neruda’s poem “Anguish of Death,” Cesar Vallejo’s “The Black Riders,” and a bonus poem by Gloria Anzaldúa “To live in the Borderlands means you.”  During the workshop, attendees will point out issues mentioned in the poems that affect us and the people from other countries. From this information, poems will be created that reflect current political issues affecting our country and the world.

About the instructor: Raúl Sanchez was selected to be the Inaugural Poet in Residence for the City of Burien 2018. He is also a translator currently working on the Spanish version of his poetry collection All Our Brown-Skinned Angels (MoonPath Press) nominated for the 2013 Washington State Book Award in Poetry. Raúl’s focus is immigration, discrimination, profiling, racism and social injustice, among other issues. He is a member of Seattle Arts & Lectures’ Writers in the Schools program. Currently, Raúl volunteers as a Poetry Mentor for the Pongo Teen Writing Project in the King County Juvenile Detention Center and a member of the Seattle Arts and Lectures Writers in the schools (WITS) program.

Jed Myers

 

 

 

 

Jed Myers’ workshop:

Jed Myers says, “If it’s true that the personal is political, then poetry must be able to capture the political in the personal facts of experience. We must be able to channel the currents of our culture’s disturbances and possibilities through our intuitive apparatus and create embodiments of our struggles that invite strongly felt resonances.” In this workshop Myers hopes to facilitate such a process—by offering some experiential exercises, by encouraging the psychic shift from concept and category to perception and sensation, and by tapping the group’s power to support its members in writing openheartedly through the self rather than from the self. Some worthwhile writing is bound to come of it!

About the instructor: Jed Myers is author of Watching the Perseids (Sacramento Poetry Center Book Award), The Marriage of Space and Time (MoonPath Press, forthcoming), and three chapbooks, including Dark’s Channels (Iron Horse Literary Review Chapbook Award). Recent poems appear in Rattle, Poetry Northwest, The American Journal of Poetry, and Southern Poetry Review.

About this project: Anita K. Boyle creates art and poetry at Egress Studio. This poetry writing workshop event is in support of the larger Whatcom County poetry community. A minimum of 30% of all workshop proceeds will go directly to the migrants at the Mexican/US border as they continue their journey into the United States. The donation from will most likely be for non-profit group Angry Tias & Abuelas who are doing very valuable work right now at the Mexican/American border, work that reminds me of these lines: “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” —Emma Lazarus’ sonnet, “New Colossus”. There is a link on Facebook, if you’re interested in learning about the some of the work they are doing.

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The Poet As Art features Raúl Sánchez and Marjorie Manwaring on Friday March 29, 7 pm. Please join us at the Lucia Douglas Gallery in Bellingham.

Please excuse the improper accent in Raúl's last name in the post card (and poster).

Please excuse the improper accent in Raúl’s last name in the image above (and poster).

Before we start the interview, it would be good to note, as a quick introduction to Raúl Sánchez, that he read at Elliott Bay Book Company last summer, and we’ve been making attempts to set up a reading with him since his book was published.

His  long-awaited debut collection of poems is titled All Our Brown-Skinned Angels (MoonPath Press, 2012), about which Francisco X. Alarcón says:

“I open All Our Brown-Skinned Angels, the new collection of poems by Raúl Sánchez, as a book of intimate, personal prayers. But the prevailing Judeo-Christian theology is turned upside down in these poems. Here, the Earth is sacred … Raúl Sánchez is the contemporary Netzalhuacóyotl of the Northwest, who lives in damp Seattle … and has come out with wondrous poems in praise of life that are liberating prayers for every day.”

All Our Brown-Skinned Angels cover

All Our Brown-Skinned Angels cover

Wet is right! The photo on the event poster is from our pond on Noon Road in Bellingham reaching flood level in March. Or was that late February? At any rate, the level moves up and down so much lately, it’s like the pond is breathing. This is the weather we live with. Well, I digress.

At Elliott Bay, Raúl read with MoonPath Press publisher, poet and fiction writer Lana Hechtman Ayers and the musically inclined poet John Burgess—both fogbound poets from around Puget Sound. I would have liked to have been there, because each of these poets is well worth hearing, and such different writers from each other!

While it has always been important, with current events as they are right now, it may be more crucial than ever to hear the poems of Raúl Sánchez. Hear what he says about his poems in the following interview, and you may see what I mean. He is full of seriousness and humor.

An Interview Raúl Sánchez with for The Poet as Art

What aspects of your experience keep you writing poetry?

There are many experiences I’ve had as an immigrant. Those include relationships, employment, political situations and the diaspora away from México.

Are there features of your life that have run contrary to you being, or continuing to be, a poet?

Yes, the first one will be that I do not have formal education from any educational institution in the USA. That makes me feel incapable to write Poetry. However, I started journaling and writing notes from the travels I did between 1981 and 1994. One of those years I spent in India. At one point, I was writing short simple poems that were published in company newsletters and local newspapers. When I was younger, I wrote a couple of political poems for the student movement in Mexico City. In 1996, I decided to join a Latino writers group in Seattle, where I learned more about writing. That is when I decided to get serious about writing poetry.

What is the single most surprising thing you’ve learned about poetry?

Poetry is a medium by which we can express what we see, feel, hear, taste, smell and experience, whether animate or inanimate, in an artistic way by sounding off words in a rhythmic voice.

If you could choose one person, dead or alive, who influenced you as a writer, who would that be? How did he or she impact your writing experience?

Renato Leduc

Renato Leduc

For me it would be Renato Leduc. A French-Mexican Poet, Journalist and signaler for Francisco Villa.

I remember Renato reciting his poems in the middle of my father’s restaurant in Mexico City. I was a young lad then and had no idea what poetry was. Then one day I discovered his poems and stories in an anthology of Mexican poets and writers. On one of my trips to Mexico City, I found his complete works, which were not translated into English. To my delight, I’ve translated one of his poems into English, which was published on-line by Pirene’s Fountain in 2011.

What kind of non-literary books stimulated your poetry?

Having learned English in Mexico City, I would say Dick and Jane. I still have a couple of those books.

The famous Dick and Jane books

The famous Dick and Jane books

Which book of poetry is most important to you and your work as a poet?

Since I have lived in two countries, from México it would be Jaime Sabines’ Poesía Amorosa, and from the USA, Denise Levertov’s Relearning the Alphabet.

What do you believe your readers enjoy most about your work?

Our personal diaspora, connectivity and ethnic identification. Family, migration, the uncertain future and the certainty of the roots that keep us growing.

Raúl Sanchéz, poet

Raúl Sánchez, poet

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Here is one of Raúl Sánchez’s poems, the one I’ll be making into a poetry broadside. The broadside will be available free at the reading, and we hope you’ll make a donation to help us continue bringing poets to Bellingham.

Every Dress a Decisión
after Elizabeth Austen

My older sister could never
ever decide what to wear
on Friday and Saturday nights

My parents told her too short, too tight
what that meant I didn’t understand
all I know is that my older sister

went away wearing her platform shoes
and skin-tight skirts every time
she could sneak out

after my parents went to bed
and I fell asleep
while watching Superman

Raúl’s comments about his poem:

I went to the Richard Hugo House the night Elizabeth Austen read at the “Cheap Wine and Poetry” series after her book release for Every Dress A Decision. The title of the book stayed with me and triggered a poem thinking about my older sister, who doesn’t exist since I’m the oldest. Perhaps wishful thinking lead to the idea that “If I would’ve had an older sister, that’s what she would’ve done” back in 1969. My editor decided to change the word “Decision” to “Decisión” to add flavor to the poem. I gave the poem to Elizabeth handwritten in Spanish on one of the postcards she made to promote her book.

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We hope you join us for this poetry reading at the Lucia Douglas Gallery, which is showing collaborations between the artists Thomas Wood and FishBoy (RR Clark). Strange and wonderful art.

Posted by Anita K. Boyle

It’s up. Now you can look for the poster all over Bellingham and around Whatcom County, maybe even Skagit County. (Let me know if you want have one or more to put up in a prominent place. It’s such a task.)

The Poet As Art at the Lucia Douglas Art Gallery

The Poet As Art at the Lucia Douglas Art Gallery


Click on the poster, if you want to see it larger.

This poetry reading by Marge Manwaring and Raul Sanchez is going to be great. Jim and I have heard both of them read their work. The poems are honest and imaginative. When they read, their voices are clear and strong, and it becomes apparent that they love the poems. This is a formula for an unforgettable reading. While we are planning a few other types of events, this is the only reading we’re scheduling this year for The Poet As Art.

Don’t miss the poetry writing workshop Marge will be teaching on Saturday, March 30. Sign up early to save a seat.

If you aren’t on our email list, here is the main portion of the information you’ll need for these two events:

1. An Evening with The Poet As Art: Marjorie Manwaring and Raul Sanchez
Date and Time: Friday, March 29 from 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Place: Lucia Douglas Gallery, 1415 13th Street in Fairhaven (Bellingham WA)
This poetry event promises to be a perfect evening to ring in April as National Poetry Month! Raúl Sánchez and Marjorie Manwaring are Seattle poets who are active contibutors to our Northwest literary community. Raúl Sánchez’s poetry takes on colonizers and Congress, and celebrates the local, familial, and ancestral. His most recent collection of poetry is All Our Brown-Skinned Angels (MoonPath Press, 2012). Marjorie Manwaring’s poetry collections include the chapbooks What to Make of a Diminished Thing (Dancing Girl Press) and Magic Word (Pudding House Publications), plus her brand-new volume Search for a Velvet-Lined Cape (Mayapple Press, 2013). Poet Amy Gerstler says, “These poems simultaneously deconstruct and enact enchantment.”

2. Workshop: The Persona Poem: Becoming Who (or What) You Don’t Know
Marjorie Manwaring, Instructor
Date and Time: Saturday, March 30 from 10:30 to 3:00 p.m.
Place: Egress Studio, 5581 Noon Road, Bellingham WA.
Registration is limited to fifteen participants. Cost: $55
Ever tried to write a poem from the perspective of Marilyn Monroe, or the world’s largest mushroom? Even if this is your first attempt, you’ll enjoy the fun of bucking the old adage “write what you know”! (In fact, many find shifting a poem’s focus away from the biographical self to be a welcome relief.) We’ll mix in-class writing with examinations of work by contemporary poets including Amy Gerstler, Charles Harper Webb, Carol Ann Duffy, and Tim Seibles. Be willing to don some (metaphorical) masks and get a little crazy! Call 360-398-7870 for more details and to register.

The Poet As Art if an affiliate program of the Whatcom Poetry Series, which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Donations, made out to “Whatcom Poetry Series” are tax deductible. Please designate which program your donation would go to: The Poet As Art, poetrynight, or the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest.