Saturday, January 30, 2016

Understood. Deadline Extended to Sunday, January 31st

See that mouse holding on to the minute hand of time? She will be doing that all weekend so that you can have 2 more days to send in your very brief application so that you can write for free at our winter writing retreat. Next Saturday, February 6th, Kelli Russell Agodon and I will be teaching an all day writing workshop: "Generating New Work" in the morning and "Art of Revision" in the afternoon.

We meet in a lovely space -- the many windowed party room with full kitchen of a West Lake Condo Building right by a coffee shop and Whole Foods (great for lunch).  Bus route, parking on the street, you name it -- we have it.

The Rich - Russell Scholarship costs nothing to submit to. Just send us three of your best poems and a paragraph on why you want to come write with us. Send it by by SUNDAY NIGHT at midnight to

If you just want to secure your spot in the morning or the afternoon event, you can sign-up now at our  Poets on the Coast website. Poets at all levels truly welcome from beginners to well published poets --- all ages and all genders. We're happy to have you join us.

This is our 4th year co-leading a winter retreat; it will be our only class this year in Seattle!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Once upon a time a poet and an artist got together...

Self Portrait by Carol Sawyer
Just over two years ago I found this photograph on the web. The encounter was almost that random. A year earlier, a friend of a friend had sent me Carol Sawyer's email address and told me Carol was a photo historian and might have information for me on Hannah Maynard, a Victorian photographer of the 19th century who worked in Victoria, B.C. At the time I was writing a sequence of poems on Maynard.

And Carol did know quite a bit about women photographers in British Colombia. In fact, she was also generous with her knowledge. And so a year later, when I surely was meant to be doing something else, I googled photography and Carol Sawyer. The images I found fixed me in their gaze. I felt more connected to this piece in particular than anything I had ever seen on a computer screen.

Carol is a performance artist, a singer in an avant-garde jazz band, professor, and stellar photographer.  I wrote my first fan letter to Carol asking if she would consider a collaboration with me. We wrote back and forth for a few months until we could finally clear our calendars to meet.
When Carol's husband asked her about me, their guest for the next few nights, Carol told him the truth, "I met her on the internet."

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During that visit we created a still life together and realized that collaboration was possible. A half a year later, Carol came down to Seattle and we collaborated on a show at Highline College where I work. We led a workshop together on artistic collaboration, created a show in the gallery, and played well together.
You can see the poet and the photographer in the gazing ball

We did a fair amount of asking and answering questions about what our collaboration might look like. As the writer, I wanted to make sure that the collaboration went both ways. In other words, I wanted for us both to create art inspired by the other's work. And it worked. In fact,  during my visit to Vancouver we created a still life together and realized that collaboration was possible. 

Carol took a line from my poem "Try to be Done Now with Words," a line I particularly liked:

"Double note of window and world"  and created this photograph.

Looking back over the Powerpoint we created, some of the elements we said made for a successful collaboration included: a sense of humor, willing to go into the unknown, and generosity. This week two of our collaborations were published at the wonderful resource Ekphrastic.Net and another one is coming in September from the LA Review. 

My hope is that we will continue this collaboration for a long time to come. And one of the things no one tells you about collaboration: in the best of circumstances you find a new friend. A friend that "gets" your art --- a friend that becomes your friend because of the art that you do. 

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hello, Kansas! But Wait, It's Complicated --- Nevada Anyone?

So this happened and it's a little bit complicated. First of all, when I wrote that Kansas was the only state left uncolored on my Poetry Map, a good deal of unexpected support came my way. One grammar school friend now lives in Kansas and she promised to do whatever she could from there. My first high school boyfriend volunteered the sleuthing abilities of his mom, now living in Kansas, to hunt down journals where I could submit poems, and finally, a fellow poet wrote to me and suggested I send poems to the undergraduate journal that he advises at a Kansas University.

Wow. All of this was so unexpected and made me really, really happy.

What I realized here was that I'd created a kind of treasure hunt and there were friends, old and new, who were happy to join in. From one random idea of sending my poems out to different states as a kind of publishing game, comes a whole community a few decades later.

So the good news? Just last week I had three poems accepted by Chiron Review published out of St. John, KS. Michael Hathaway, a local librarian,  has been publishing Chiron Review for over 30 years, his website is more welcoming than most and I am happy to have my work published in a beautiful print journal. Thank you, Michael!

And the bad news? I still need one more state. In my enthusiasm to finish the map, I used Witness as my journal publication for Nevada when they were actually located in Michigan at the time they took my work. Although Witness is now publishing out of Nevada, they weren't when they published me. A technicality? Perhaps. But since this project really only matters to me, I'd rather be honest with myself. Plus, if the Guinness Book of World Records does contact me, I want all my states (and one district) in working order.

So now I am on the lookout for my last state --- if you are associated with any publication in Nevada (any journal, newspaper, or magazine would be great) please let me know. Or if you know of a cool publication...I promise this is my last ask.

So here I go, one more time.

Hello, Nevada!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Fellowship Offered for Poets On the Coast Winter Retreat, Feb 6th 2016

I am a great believer in a community of people coming together to write for an afternoon. For example, left to my own devices, I may work on one poem for a couple of hours and call it good. However, if I'm writing with a group, my energy seems to build on itself and I am happy to create new work and play with words much longer.

On Saturday, February 6th, Kelli Russell Agodon and I are teaching a one day class in Seattle in the South Lake Union neighborhood (on several bus lines and with on street parking).  In the morning there will be a three hour "Generating New Work" workshop, then a break for lunch, and then "The Art of Revision."

We will begin at 10 AM and finishing the second class at 4:00 PM. Class size is intimate and limited to 18 students for each workshop. If you are interested in learning more, please go to Winter Retreats, Poets on the Coast. We still have a few openings for the morning and/or afternoon sessions.

For the first time we are also offering a Rich-Russell Fellowship to a poet who would like to join us but whose finances are limited. To apply for the Rich-Russell Fellowship, please send us three poem (no longer than three pages of poetry in total) and a one page statement on why a one day Winter Retreat in Seattle is what you need for your writing right now. Email us with poems and statement in an email message at by Friday, January 29th. 

We hope to see you February 6th for a day devoted to your writing! Questions? Feel free to contact us at

Saturday, January 16, 2016

New Year's Resolutions Gone Awry with J.W. Marshall and Christine Deavel

I live on an isthmus west of downtown Seattle. In the summer there is beach volleyball and pirates landing their boats along the shore. In December, the Christmas Ships make a dramatic appearance. I love the quirkiness of my neighborhood: a record store, a Log Cabin Museum, and numerous characters who promenade along the beach with an assortment of dogs, parrots, and even a few cats.

What we didn't have until last year was a literary series. After living here for over a decade, it seemed time to take matters into our own hands. Along with Katy E. Ellis and Harold Taw, I co-founded WordsWest Literary Programs. Since then we have hosted events with a MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, an NPR radio journalist, Washington State's Poet Laureate  and many other talented writers. In fact, we've been blown away by the diversity of talent we've hosted at the coolest coffee house in West Seattle.

7:00 pm this Wednesday night promises to be another magical evening with the themed reading of, Resolutions Gone Awry with Christine Deavel and J.W. Marshall. Christine and John are famous in Seattle and far beyond our city limits for their poems, their huge hearts and their fabulous book emporium: Open Books: A Poem Emporium.

For more information on these amazingly talented poets who also happen to be married to one another please check out: WordsWest Literary. 

See you Wednesday for poetry, snacks, and more!

Friday, January 8, 2016

In Celebration of a Life: Madeline DeFrees (1917 - 2015)

Madeline DeFrees with her chocolate birthday cake 

Tomorrow, 2 pm at Elliott Bay Books (that's Saturday, January 9th) friends and former students will gather to celebrate the life of the late, great,  Madeline DeFrees. Madeline was my first poetry teacher and perhaps my most important one. I can't believe that she's gone. I was convinced she'd live forever.

Anne McDuffie is hosting and Rick Simonson, Chris Howell, Elizabeth Austen, Susan Rich, Jennifer Maier, Gary Thompson, Candace Black, Elizabeth Weber, and others will be there to share memories of Madeline and their favorite poems.

Here's the listing on the Elliott Bay website:

And if you’d like to know more about Madeline and her work, here’s the website Anne maintains for her:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Reading For Snow

Alki Beach, West Seattle

I celebrated the beginning of the year with my dear friend Geraldine Mills and her partner, photographer, Peter Moore, visiting from Ireland.

Geraldine and I met 13 years ago at The Tyrone Guthrie Center; it was my first time in Ireland. Since that residency we've become close friends. One ritual we've developed is a reading our poems to an audience of bells, mountain goats, river stones, or literal snowflakes---and of course each other. There's something so satisfying about our shared love of words and the natural word where we set our poems free. It's nearly primal: the act of reading our work to clouds and "the vagaries of weather" to quote my friend. She's a stunning poet and fiction writer. Her books are available on both sides of the Atlantic. Here's a link to HellKite --- a superb collection.

And here is the beginning of Geraldine's blog post about her time in my neighborhood. And if you live in Seattle, Easy Street Cafe and Records is definitely worth a visit.

From Geraldine Mills

True friendships are those that hold through absence and long distance. Having the chance to meet up with my dear friend and poet, Susan Rich, last weekend, filled me with gladness as once again my husband and I took the ferry across Puget Sound to meet her in her home in Seattle.

It was time luxuriously shared with good food, discussion on favourite writers and the mystery that is this life of ours. In her house of sky we could see from her writing room red-tailed hawks and the snow on the Olympic Mountains. Spending those precious hours talking with her and her partner, Jeff, soon opened that squeaky door of creativity for me that is inclined to blow shut sometimes from all the storms of life and living.

We had breakfast in the Easy Street Café, food for the body and the soul with its collection of vinyls and CDs, and a menu that mirrors the music on the stands. Trying to decide between a Dolly Parton Stack or a Salad of John and Yoko, I finally settled on a Little Richard: Eggs, bacon and hash browns.

One of our traditions that we have built since our first meeting in The Tyrone Guthrie Centre, many years ago is to find a place To continue reading go to GeraldineMillsWriter