Poet of the Month: Georgia S. McDade

A day late, but here we go…

For this latest entry in my series of tributes to poets I know, I celebrate and acknowledge Georgia S. McDade. Dr. McDade (she is the first African-American woman to earn a Ph.D in English from the University of Washington, in 1987) is one of those people who is seemingly in constant motion. On nearly every occasion I have seen her, she has either just come from another event, is about to rush off to another one, or both.

I know Georgia mainly through the monthly Writers Read, held the second Sunday of each month (except for May and August) at the library in Columbia City. Writers Read is presented by the African-American Writers’ Alliance, of which she is a founding member.

As a writer, she has written several books of poetry, including five volumes of her Outside the Cave series, as well as many essays and stories. What I like about her poems is that they are unambiguously in her own voice—that is, they sound like her. To hear Georgia McDade read one of her poems, or one of her stories, is to be part of a conversation. At least, that’s the feeling I always have.

As an educator for more than three decades, Georgia regularly encourages people to write, regardless of their level of experience. Everyone has a story to tell, she says, and that’s how we learn about each other, and discover those things we have in common.

To learn more, here are links to a couple of articles from the South Seattle Emerald.



And here is video of Dr. McDade reading some of her work:

(2 November 2017)

Poet of the Month: Lola E. Peters

Almost let this one sneak up on me again—fortunately, I made my decision a few days ago, so it was only a matter of sitting down and actually writing the post.

For this latest entry in my series of tributes to poets I know, I celebrate and acknowledge my friend Lola E. Peters. Her poems and essays have appeared in a number of anthologies, as well as on the Crosscut, Seattle Star, and South Seattle Emerald websites. She has also published two volumes of poems, Taboos and The Book of David, and a book of essays, The Truth About White People. She founded the nonprofit Poetry+Motion, which, over its five-year lifespan, brought together dancers and poets to create ‘new choreography for poems written and performed by local poets’; currently serves on the boards of Leadership Tomorrow, Seattle City Club, and Onyx Fine Arts Collective; and is a long-time member of the African-American Writers’ Alliance (AAWA).

As a poet, Lola has inspired me in two important ways: Continue reading

Poet of the Month: S. R. Mason

For this latest entry in my series of tributes to poets I know, I celebrate and acknowledge S. R. Mason. A writer, photographer, and poet, her main outlet for poetry is her Tumblr blog, titled Think of Me As Poetry.

Love is a frequent theme in her poems. However, her protagonists do not experience love in their heads (or with their heads in the clouds), but in their bodies—tongues, eyes, ribs, fists, fingers, teeth, and so on—whether it is pain, pleasure, or indifference. Water is another element that regularly appears in her work—sometimes a benevolent, healing presence, other times an oppressor, or sometimes an object of desire.

Still in her early 20s, Steph (as you might know her if you follow her on Twitter), has a way with phrasing that you’d expect from someone my age. Or—to be more honest—that I wish I had.

On several occasions, I have found inspiration in her poems, most notably:

Ghosts that leave footprints
The past ending in an exhale
What to listen for in a cold war of visual cues.
‘Goodbye’ is a confusion we feel comfortable ignoring.’

As part of a prompt I was working from, I ended up using a line each from the last two poems in this list in poems of my own; she was kind enough to grant me permission to include them in This Is Fifty-three (the oversized volume I published last year).

As far as I know, Steph has not yet published her poems beyond her Tumblr feed; however, she is planning to publish Sugar Comma [sic], a chapbook of donut-related poems, later this year. She also occasionally posts video clips in which she reads her poems. More recently, she has begun writing music reviews for 303 Magazine.

Check out her work. You won’t regret it.

(1 August 2017)

Poet of the Month: Talicha J

This month, I celebrate Talicha J, one of the first poets I began to follow after I started actively writing poetry again. I don’t remember where I first encountered her work (it’s been about four years, after all), but I appreciate her ability to get to the heart of whatever she is writing about. Numerous times I have read something in one of her poems that perfectly captures something I have experienced.

Talicha regularly participates in slam competitions, and last year did her first tour (I was lucky to see her read at Everett Poetry Night in May 2016, and finally meet her in person (after having already been connected for a while on social media).

To date, Talicha has published one book of her poetry, Falling in Love with Picking Myself Up, and one poetry album, In the making (click on the bandcamp link below).

I strongly recommend you check her out. You won’t regret it.

Talicha J website: https://talicha-johnson.squarespace.com/

Talicha J YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCUbP6BNSxJvMksiY2Qa0PyA

Talicha J In the making poetry album: https://talichaj.bandcamp.com/

(1 July 2017)

Poet of the Month: Vasilina Orlova

Over the last three or four years, as I have immersed myself more and more in the world of poetry, I have encountered a lot of poets and/or their work. In some cases, what I have heard or read has provided inspiration for some of my own work. have been thinking recently that I want to acknowledge these folks, so I’m going to do so by acknowledging a different poet each month. Continue reading

Kevin’s Rules of Poetry Reading Etiquette: For Poets

I go to a lot of poetry readings. I have noticed a lot of things, good and bad, that affect how a given reading will go. On one occasion, where another poet’s lack of consideration effectively ate up a good chunk of what would have been my reading time, I got so frustrated that I made up a list.

Now that enough time has passed that I can address this calmly and rationally, I will now present my rules of poetry reading etiquette—starting with the rules for poets. Continue reading

Kevin’s Rules of Poetry Reading Etiquette (the concise list version)

The following is based on fifteen months of poetry readings and open mics. I fully intend to post a more rant-y version of this later to reflect a couple of recent experiences; for now, I think this simple list will be appropriate: Continue reading

Poets Against Hate and the whirlwind weekend

Poets Against Hate poster

Poets Against Hate took place last Saturday. In all, 52 poems were read by 50 poets over the course of the afternoon, with the occasional musical interlude.

As you would expect from such a large group, the subject at hand was addressed from a variety of angles, from the personal to the political. One poem documented an instance of racial profiling by police. Another spoke of the poet’s experience growing up in the U.S. after having come here from another country. Another celebrated the poet’s neighborhood. Another addressed the continued incarceration of Leonard Peltier.

Number 40 on the program (after adjustments for absent poets), I read my poem I have questions. It was written in response to Charleston, but could easily apply to other events as well. As with my featured reading spot two days earlier, I had plenty of time for nerves to build up; the reading went well anyway.

Those who were unable to attend the event will have several opportunities to catch up. The event was recorded for both a podcast and later airing on the Seattle Channel. In addition, The Raven Chronicles plans to publish a collection of the poems read in early 2017.

The next part of my whirlwind weekend took place just a couple of hours later, as I attended another poetry reading north of Seattle. After two relatively high-profile events, it felt good to read for a smaller crowd and not be the center of attention. Still, having barely had time to wolf down a bowl of soup en route from one place to the other, I was quite tired by the time I got home.

That did not stop me from attending yet another reading the next day—again, more of a no-pressure setting. Since love and Valentine’s Day were the theme of the day, I read a few of my poems on the subject, from the romantic to the silly (I had to end on a laugh).

I spent yesterday’s holiday doing as little as possible. I figure I earned the break.

(16 February 2016)