Kevin Killian’s five-star review of Ghost Town Poetry

Printed Matter Vancouver is very grateful to Kevin Killian for this five-star review of our Ghost Town Poetry anthology:

Poetic Cries from the Other Vancouver

August 30, 2012

By Kevin Killian

Ghost Town Poetry: Cover To Cover Books 2004-2010: An Anthology of Poems from the Ghost Town Open Mic Series (Paperback)

Everything’s up to date in Vancouver (Washington) and this anthology of poetry is made up of poetry read in the town’s hippest reading series from 2004 through 2010. I’m happy to say the series is still going, attracting poets from every part of the Northwest and beyond.

The reading series curators, Christopher Luna and Toni Partington, have made a bargain with the public, and one of their tenets is to let nothing second rate appear in their book. Thus we get the best work from each poet, even the ones famous on a national level, like Michael Rothenberg or David Meltzer (Meltzer, after all, was one of the original New American Poets anointed by Donald M Allen in an influential 1960 anthology, so he knows first hand how a good anthology can change a person’s life). I was awed to think that a single book could give me an in-the-round picture of a single American city, like the old modernist classics such as Spoon River Anthology, but here it goes again. Rob Gourley’s “US 250” describes, in broken, dynamic rhythms, a favorite “cruise,” in which, through the magic of memory, once again “we jump across the creek/ to reach the pumphouse and roam the slanting cowpaths.”

Another Vancouverite, Bernadette Barrio opens up the world of children inching closer to adulthood and the pains of the mother as she prides themselves on their growth, while at risk of losing “that child-like charm they possess.” Reading lines like this make me wonder if sometimes I overthink things and in doing so, I miss out on some of the more poignant experiences of life. “I am a rich man, and I am surrounded by beauty,” writes co-editor Luna in a stirring preface. Other Vancouverites include Rainy Knight, who speaks of the long ago decade in which Elvis Presley visited Washington State, and she met and dated him, and another fine writer, Christi Krug, who recalls dealing with an infirm mother and coping with dementia. “Now I make beds for Mother’s words/ Pulling sterile folds tight/ Smoothing edges around her complexes/ Snug and out of harm’s way.”

The mind of the poet is frequently topsy-turvy, perhaps that is why we turn to poetry in times of economic and cultural challenge, such as today. Luna and Partington have done a sterling job gathering together the best work of many poets I’ve never heard of and sending their wisdom all across the world like a “coastal spirit courier, a rain-free olive branch.”

Kevin Killian lives in San Francisco where he is celebrating Kylie Minogue’s 25th anniversary in show business in his own way.  He has a new novel Spreadeagle (Publication Studio, and a new artist book with NYC-based sculptor Ugo Rondinone.  Next up, Tagged, a collection of Killian’s intimate photographs of poets, artists, musicians and filmmakers naked, or near enough. Previous publications include Impossible Princess, Little Men, and The Argento Series. He is also the co-author (with Lewis Ellingham) of Poet Be Like God: Jack Spicer and the San Francisco Renaissance and the co-editor (with Peter Gizzi) of My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer.

GHOST TOWN POETRY OPEN MIC Featuring Kristin Roedell and Traci Schatz Thursday, October 11, 2012


hosted by Christopher Luna & Toni Partington

LGBTQ-friendly, all ages, and uncensored since 2004

7pm Thursday, October 11, 2012
and every second Thursday

Cover to Cover Books
6300 NE St. James Rd., Suite 104B
(St. James & Minnehaha)
Vancouver, WA

 Featuring Kristin Roedell and Traci Schatz:


Kristin Roedell is a retired attorney living in Lakewood, Washington. Her work has appeared in Switched on Gutenburg, Chest, and Tacoma City Arts. She is the author of Seeing in the Dark (Tomato Can Press) and Girls with Gardenias (Flutter Press, for sale at the reading for $6). Her third book is soon-to-be released by Legal Studies Forum, a press dedicated to poetry written by attorneys. She has been nominated for Best of the Web and the Pushcart Prize.

Few things are quiet

By Kristin Roedell

as night snow:

there is the uninvited

past, sharp and

certain as geometry

when geese fly;

there is age coming in slow

on a stinging tide;

there is sleep spinning

thin as blown glass.


All things snow remain

silent here;  cars slip

inaudibly to the shoulder,

children doze, bedded

in the back seat

like sled dogs.


Down at the lake,

power went out

days ago; behind curtains

candles are lit, flashlights

doubling in the downstairs

mirror. Belly to back,


your damp breath

lies on my feathered

nape; like night snow,

you fall everywhere,

mute, ubiquitous.

Few things are quiet

as your still regard.


I will give voice to something

when the ice cracks.

It will wake the deepest

crocus, and ride

the Chinook


Traci Schatz lives and writes in Portland, OR with her partner and their small petting zoo of animals. She has been published in VoiceCatcher (and went on to become an Associate Editor) and Wordstock 10, among others. She is currently enrolled in The Institute of Poetic Medicine’s facilitator training program, where she is exploring poetry as therapy and as a tool for empowerment and growth. With years of teaching and training experience—and as a facilitator for Portland Women Writers—Traci is always looking for new opportunities to discover the many ways in which writing brings healing and beauty to the world.

Night Gifts

By Traci Schatz

Maybe these dreams are a gift?

Night visions

of the past, rearranged.

New configurations of people & places.


Dreams about the love who left

my soul bruised.

The one who gave me a child.

This child who taught me

of love and desperate hope.

Who revealed my true self

to me.


Each night I plunge

to meet those met before and again

again until our union

becomes holy.

Toni Partington reviews Brittney Corrigan’s book Navigation (The Habits of Rainy Nights Press, 2012)

Navigation  by Brittney Corrigan

The Habit of Rainy Nights Press, Portland, OR, 2012

103 pgs.

Brittney Corrigan has “carried water” in the fine tradition of her roots, just like the two hundred year old aqueducts in Turin, Italy that were lovingly built by her grandmother’s ancestors. Her opening poem, “Aqueducts,” is our first image in a journey that connects four distinct chapters. Ms. Corrigan’s stalwart collection navigates life in an honest and lucid voice. She takes us places and we go willingly.

Navigation will keep your feet on the ground while you fly. In a poem about her grandfather, “The Navigator’s Triangle,” she tells us that, “Our necks should be built for looking upward…” Then, takes us into imagination and memory: “And I imagine my grandfather standing under this sky alone: his head rocked back onto his spine like a fallen star, his hands opening into emptiness, looking up.”

Ms. Corrigan’s poems throw the windows wide open to let the wind inside. Like the wind, they are unpredictable and refuse to hide. In “Grandmother’s Italian,” we can hear the musical sound of her fleeting native language: “Years of marriage like rows of spices, rows of slender shoes—her letters ground like peppercorns into perfect syllables of sound. Now he corrects her perfect pronunciation…agreeing to his own southern letters. Her syllables fall silent, her feet sit like spice jars, racked.”

Navigation takes us places. We feel like welcome guests who’ve been invited to join a family as they inhabit several family homes. We walk through many doors to meet dramatic weather, a stunned bird, nests, islands and one small, first apartment. In amazement we realize how cleverly the narrator has blended her poetic juice with the Portland rain. But it is the poem “Denver’s Rain that catapults me to the mile high city. Ms. Corrigan describes a gutter in front of her home that, “had a section wide and deep as the bowl of a pelvis, rimmed with asphalt that softened in the heat…” And I was there, right there until she slid me into her mother’s Colorado garden where “my sister and I saved the tumbleweeds for as long as we could…until the snow came and found them huddled there together, curling into each other the way a baby holds on to a thumb.” That’s when I realized I’d been holding my breath. It was as if the poem said, you can breathe now.

Brittney Corrigan’s Navigation is a deeply moving tribute to home, family, grief, adjustment, motherhood, and adventure. Her poems invite you to see and feel a startling momentum. This book is one for poets and fans of poetry. You will be mesmerized as Navigation takes you by the hand and leads you into the heart of this writer.

Book Review by Toni Partington