Friday, September 26, 2014

Road Trips, Revelations, and Poetry Readings

Oliver de la Paz and I @ Village Books Oct 2nd

I think the point of poetry readings is to bring people together. I like to hear the stories behind the poems and to listen to the voice of the poet. Oftentimes I need that pattern of tones and syllables in order to understand how to read a writer's work. As a poet who is reading out a goodly amount this fall, I like to think about what makes a good poetry reading.

Next Thursday, October 2nd I will read with the wonderful Olive de la Paz at Village Books in Bellingham, WA. The following night, Friday, October 3rd, I'm reading for the Words, Writers, West Seattle Series, a program of the Southwest Historical Society, and talking about how to conduct historical research for creative purposes.

But what I am most excited about is the new WordsWest Series that I'm curating with Katy Ellis and Harold Taw at C & P Coffee Company. Each month we invite the West Seattle community to come hear world class writers and help us nurture the West Seattle literary community. As new curators, all well published, we want to do something different with this series --- and so far --- we are. Next up is "Politics and Poetics: Rick Barot and Lena Khalaf Tuffaha."

What if someone telephoned to say you had 3 minutes to run for your life? What if a bomb was about to be dropped on your family’s home? Can words ever do justice to the shock, bewilderment, and fear that such wartime “courtesy” calls provoked during this past summer in Gaza?


For the October 15, 2014 edition of WordsWest Literary Series, poets Rick Barot and Lena Khalaf Tuffaha will read their work and explore with the audience how poetry confronts what is painful, confounding, and divisive in our human experience. Can we draw closer together by delving more deeply into our complicated cultural heritages, lost histories, and political struggles?

Rick Barot is the author of three poetry collections with Sarabande Books: The Darker Fall (2002); Want (2008); and Chord (forthcoming 2015). He has received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Artist Trust, the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, and Stanford University. His poems and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry, The Paris Review, and The New Republic. Rick is the poetry editor of New England Review. He lives in Tacoma and teaches at Pacific Lutheran University. He is also the director of The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA in Creative Writing at PLU.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha has lived the experiences of first-generation American, immigrant, and expatriate. In the summer of 2014, her poem “Running Orders”—written from the voice of a Palestinian evacuee in Gaza—went viral online. Her heritage is Palestinian, Jordanian, and Syrian and she is fluent in Arabic. She has lived in and travelled across the Arab world, and many of her poems are inspired by the experience of crossing borders: cultural, geographic, political, borders between the present and the living past. She translated the screenplay for the award-winning film “When I Saw You”, written and directed by Annemarie Jacir in 2011. She has poems in Floating Bridge Review, Taos International Journal of Poetry and Art, and in the print anthology Being Palestinian, to be published by Oxford Press in 2015.

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