“A Welcoming and Unfettered Place for All:” Sharon Wood Wortman on Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic

Sharon Wood Wortman, who appeared as our featured reader in November 2007, shared the following observations about what she witnessed at Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic on April 12, 2018:

“The Oregonian published a story yesterday about a new 100-bed shelter proposed for under the west end of the Broadway Bridge. Housing is at a crisis, don’t we know? Wouldn’t it be something if the sponsors knew that in addition to the foundation-building of keeping people out of the elements, equally humane would be to help them express themselves, also in a safe and warm a place?

“What if when everyone is thinking of ways to help others redirect, they would consider poetry an essential—as surely as access to a bed, soap, and a toothbrush to call one’s own? Cuisine for the heart made right there at the shelter and then read before a microphone as part of the redistribution of the self? In a better manufactured world, someone would hire you two to implement such mending/remaking of humanity.

“From where I sat in the audience last night, it looked to me that you two offer, among all the things you offer, your talent for luxurious attention and high-end listening. I once thought of you as ministers of poetry, but you are something better, more practical. More tangible than any church, you run the HUD of poetry—providing a welcoming and unfettered place for people of all shapes, sizes, hues, abilities, genders, and clothing preferences, and you do all this on a cotton-thin budget. Amazing.”

Thank you, Sharon!

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Christopher Luna is featured in Sharon Wood Wortman’s book The Big & Awesome Bridges of Portland & Vancouver.

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Sharon Wood Wortman’s poems “Underpinnings” and “Slippage” appear in Printed Matter Vancouver’s Ghost Town Poetry Volume One (Cover to Cover Books 2004-2010), available at Angst Gallery and Another Read Through.

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You can learn more about Sharon at Bridge Stories.



Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic Featuring Leah Stenson at Angst Gallery May 10, 2018

Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic May 10 2018 flyer

Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic

Featuring Leah Stenson

Hosted by Christopher Luna and Toni Partington of Printed Matter Vancouver

7 pm

Thursday, May 10

Open mic sign up begins at 6:30 and closes at 7 sharp

Angst Gallery

1015 Main Street

Vancouver, WA 98660

Food and libation provided by Niche Wine Bar, 1013 Main Street

Sound provided by Briz Loan & Guitar


Leah Stenson at Stonehenge Studios

Leah Stenson is the author of two chapbooks, Heavenly Body and The Turquoise Bee and Other Love Poems, published by Finishing Line Press in 2011 and 2014, respectively; a regional editor of Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest (Ooligan Press, 2013) and co-editor of Reverberations from Fukushima (Inkwater Press, 2014). Her full-length poetry book, Everywhere I Find Myself, was published by WordTech Communications’ Turning Point imprint in December of 2017. She serves on the board of Tavern Books.


Drawing from a deep well of autobiographical and cross-cultural experience, Everywhere I Find Myself is a wide-ranging narrative journey of the heart.

“Leah Stenson’s Everywhere I Find Myself traverses the full range of human experience–what she calls the ‘terrible exquisiteness of being’–from the nuclear disaster at Fukushima to a friendly encounter with a cow; from the distractions of our devices to moments of deep tranquility; from a grandfather’s suicide to a daughter’s gift of a pair of pillowcases made from fine Egyptian cotton. By turns witty, playful, and deadly serious, these poems give readers one woman’s unflinchingly honest take on life’s beautiful, painful vicissitudes.”—John Brehm, author of Help Is on the Way and Sea of Faith

“In this engaging and satisfying first full-length collection of poems, Leah Stenson explores the tensions between mystery and understanding, and between estrangement and belonging. The world of these poems–our world–is simultaneously expansive and confining, and Stenson travels through it seeking connection. ‘Home / wasn’t far away,’ she tells us, ‘but the road never ended’.”—Andrea Hollander, author of Landscape with Female Figure, Woman in the Painting, The Other Life, and House Without a Dreamer

“’Eternity can be heard in the stir of the breeze, in the vineyards, the whisper of prayer,’ the poet writes in Everywhere I Find Myself. The poems explore love, memory and deep loss with equal verve. With an artist’s sharp eye for detail and a philosophical world view Leah Stenson is a savvy traveler. Her wry wit, compassionate heart and spirit infuse this vivid, engaging collection.”—Marilyn Stablein, author of Climate of Extremes, Splitting Hard Ground, and Sleeping in Caves

Flying to Ohio

by Leah Stenson

After a soporific of red wine and potato chips,

I drifted off over the Great Plains at midnight,

the cabin darkened, my heart and the heartland lit.


Now the sky is reddening in the east, and

in the west lights are clumped like islands

glimmering through velum.


On that solo adventure four decades ago, knapsack

on my back, I wandered from the foot of the Acropolis

to Delphi and Santorini, channeling light.


Returning home a prodigal wanderer, I never stopped.

Sometimes at high altitudes, I still find shards

of former selves, a polished stone, a sun-bleached shell.

Listen to a feature on Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic on OPB Radio’s State of Wonder