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.”
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.
LGBTQ+ FRIENDLY, ALL AGES, AND UNCENSORED SINCE 2004
Judith Arcana writes poems, stories, essays and books, publishing online and on paper. Her work has, naturally, been influenced by the times and places of her life: A high school English teacher in the 1960’s, Judith was fired, as many were in those years, considered dangerously radical by the school board. She’s written poems and stories rooted in her commitment to reproductive justice, which began with her work in the pre-Roe abortion underground in Chicago.
Judith’s new poetry collection, Announcements from the Planetarium, was published by Flowstone Press in 2017; its poems examine memory, consider the nature of wisdom, and reflect on the experience of aging into new consciousness. Judith hosts a poetry show on KBOO community radio in Oregon and online.
The Woman Who Hands You A Gun
Don’t think because I’m old
I’m not learning anymore. No.
That’s not how it goes. Right
now I’m on my way, leaving
town to be a carny, a barker
at the tattooed lady’s tent flap
or the woman who hands you a gun
at the shooting gallery or hoops
to toss over baby dolls. It’s got
to be something I don’t have
to study or practice, something
I can slip right into, on-the-job
training. Because I don’t have
that kind of time anymore.
I’m saying I’ll be an intern
an apprentice – not a student.
I don’t have time for that.
…….. Judith Arcana (First published in CIRQUE – Winter Solstice issue, 2012)
Christopher Luna’s Creative Writing Classes Spring 2018
Follow your bliss this Spring. Take a writing workshop with Christopher Luna. Christopher has an MFA in Writing and Poetics from the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, where he received training in literary community outreach from Jack Collom, and two decades of teaching experience. He served as the Poet Laureate of Clark County, WA from 2013-2017. In 2004 he founded the popular Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic, which he co-hosts with his wife Toni Partington. Christopher and Toni co-founded Printed Matter Vancouver, which publishes local poetry and provides coaching and editing services to Northwest writers.
Below you will find several creative writing workshops throughout the region sponsored by Clark College, Multnomah Arts Center, Niche Wine Bar, Angst Gallery, and High End Market Place. Hope you can join us.
Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Everyone has a story to tell. Each person’s life is filled with adventure, mystery, trouble, and triumph. Memoir is a powerful way to demonstrate the interconnectedness of all human beings. This course will empower you to begin to see yourself as a part of history, and to discover the value in documenting the story of your life.
Beginners and experienced writers alike will generate new works and discuss the poet’s role in the community. Read, listen to, and write poetry together in a supportive class focused on providing gentle, constructive feedback. Discuss how to construct a manuscript and ready it for publication. Writers of all experience levels are welcome. Bring paper and pen or laptop. Ages 16 and over. No class on 04/28.
Poetry as a means of expression, exploration, and experience is available to everyone. Write poetry in response to prompts and read a variety of published poems that you can use as inspiration. Read and respond to one another’s work in this supportive setting, paying close attention to revision. Ages 16 & Up.
Join us on Saturday, March 10 for The Work, a monthly poetry writing workshop at Niche Wine Bar led by former Clark County Poet Laureate (2013-2017) Christopher Luna.
Christopher is completely convinced of poetry’s ability to encourage empathy and compassion, and to spark the shifts in consciousness which can lead to healing, personal growth, and an interest in fighting for progressive social change. He would love to share his passion for poetry with you.
We will read and discuss poetry, and write several new poems together from 11:30 until 2:30.
$20 suggested donation; no one will be turned away for lack of funds.
Bring a poem to share as a way of saying hello.
Shareable snacks are also welcome and very much appreciated.
Niche is located at 1013 Main Street, right next door to The Kiggins Theatre, Vancouver’s landmark movie house in the Vancouver Arts District.
Join us for a cannabis friendly and cannabis inspired poetry workshop with former Clark County Poet Laureate (2013-2017) Christopher Luna! Light snacks and coffee will be provided, but please BYOC. Must be 21+ to attend.
A bit about Christopher Luna: Christopher spent his late teens and early twenties working in a head shop on Long Island. He believes that mindful use of marijuana can be a powerful tool for consciousness expansion. Christopher is completely turned on by poetry’s ability to encourage empathy and compassion, and to spark the shifts in consciousness which can lead a person to fight for progressive social change. He would love to share his passion for poetry with you.
Space is limited, so be sure to sign up today to #getLIFTED! Tickets are a $20 suggested donation. Online reservation is required to attend the class. No one will be turned away for lack of funds, but please pre-register as this is a private event.
21+, non-refundable/non-transferable. If attendance requirements are not met the class will be canceled 24 hours before the class begins. Tickets will be refunded at that time.
Valid Photo ID is required for entrance to the event.
LGBTQ+ FRIENDLY, ALL AGES, AND UNCENSORED SINCE 2004
Peter Ludwin is the recipient of a Literary Fellowship from Artist Trust and the W.D. Snodgrass Award for Endeavor and Excellence in Poetry. His first book, A Guest in All Your Houses, was published in 2009 by Word Walker Press. His second collection is Rumors of Fallible Gods, a two-time finalist for the Gival Press Poetry Award that was published in 2013 by Presa Press.
His new book, Gone to Gold Mountain, was published in 2016 by MoonPath Press and subsequently nominated for a Washington State Book Award. In May, 2017 the Before Columbus Foundation nominated it for an American Book Award.
A fourteen-year participant in Mexico’s San Miguel Poetry Week, where he has studied under such noted poets as Mark Doty, Tony Hoagland, Joseph Stroud and Robert Wrigley, Ludwin was the Second Prize winner of the 2007-2008 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Awards. In 2010 Soundings Review named him its Reader’s Choice winner in the spring/summer issue.
Most recently, he was the 2016 First Prize winner of The Comstock Review’s Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Award, the Second Place winner of the 2016 Paulann Petersen Poetry Award, and a finalist in poetry for both the 2016 Tucson Festival of Books Literary Awards and the Pangaea Poetry Prize. A multiple Pushcart Prize nominee, he received nominations in 2016 from MoonPath Press and Connecticut River Review.
His work has appeared in many journals, including Atlanta Review, The Bitter Oleander, The Comstock Review, Crab Orchard Review, Nimrod, North American Review and Prairie Schooner, to name a few. A world traveler who has journeyed by canoe to visit remote Indian families in the Amazon Basin of Ecuador, hiked in the Peruvian Andes, thumbed for rides in Greece, bargained for goods in the markets of Marrakech and Istanbul and survived debilitating illness in China and Tibet, he is also accomplished on acoustic guitar and autoharp. He lives in Kent, Washington, where he works for the Parks Department.
Hosted by Christopher Luna and Toni Partington of Printed Matter Vancouver
Thursday, February 8
Open mic sign up begins at 6:30 and closes at 7
1015 Main Street
Vancouver, WA 98660
Dane DeLloyd is an actor/poet/pianist/artist extraordinaire who has performed coast to coast in many different venue’s and formats. On the East Coast he has opened up for acts such as The Roots, The Pharcyde, Faith Evans, and the Last Poets. On the West Coast he has played every tall monster (i.e. Frankenstein, Shrek, Zombie, Ghostface Killer and others) at Universal Studios Hollywood four out of the last five years. He also custom designed T-shirts for several mazes at Hollywood Horror Nights in Los Angeles. Dane has self-published multiple chap books as well as two musical CD’s: 100% Organic Music and Serumade Adabeigio. 100% Organic Music includes over twenty years of original material. Serumade Adabeigio (literally translated as “the healing kiss”) is his debut classical/jazz solo piano recording. He has also promoted diversity in the community working with organizations such as the University of Pittsburgh and the Heinz Foundation. His works have been performed in the Andy Warhol Museum as well as the National Poetry Slam competition. His photography is currently on display at the Waddell & Reed building in downtown Vancouver, and in limited edition photography books such as N.Y.C. (2010).
by Dane DeLloyd
Number one. water tension: the last drop to dissipate and splash
or encircle meniscus or slide down the side of a glass
aside doing dishes after grits and bacon
lovemaking that we choose not to mention.
Number two. Total stranger love: it was totally strange love,
only strangers could share the unfamiliarity of compartmentalized air
as out of the corner of side ways you stare
Not accidentally that you were looking at their love.
Looking at their love there. It’s like
Number three. Grits and bacon.
Number four. Habitdashedbaby: she drew in close to cuddle
through inspiration she never knew
about the places she will grow
or how much she grew… has grown… is growing…
Number five: gelatinous (dispeller)
she didn’t understand daddy’s self-doubt that he had
left her the genes to stand out
and now we only cradle her until she goes forward
to educate the labelers
she’s not of mixed blood
only mixed love… loving her always… loving them always… just because.
Number six: tomato blossoms: who transplanted buds immune
to the gloom. They love the rain and gave yellow blossoms in turn that smelled fertility fuzzy fragrant and sweet fruit to turn into sauces.
Number seven: Burning bush: it started between the behemoth desert sanders and the sawdust encircling the wind to show gust and test your faith sho-nuff’ it’s the wilderness against your nature… you pushed until the words were given back the water tension from the burning bush
Number eight: already here: The road was winding up to the mountain tops,
the van was packed out so there was no time to stop and see where the sludge stopped, and the clouds met the steep. I had love for the dregs where the industry seeps but now I live here with the rivers run deep.
Number nine: invisible tank : Two waterfalls folded in the pond the landscape the culture the knowledge the genre’ routed genes rooted in between the know-how of how unknown we are.
Items numbered of human SKU. Skewn into too soon
being again residue
pledging on cue. All that you have left… patience.
Number 10: patience for Dane: I felt the loss of innocence, a child punished for being beautiful and talented. Could I take those scars away for you
…only if I could… now we both heal together and apart
we always took beach strolls when you couldn’t walk
and now we pick up phones and don’t have time to talk about Love.
And the way in the life we may have just missed.
Life could be gone quick in a wind gust, a heart lust or a trip.
Ghost Town Poetry Open Mic Featuring Neil Aitken Hosted by Christopher Luna and Toni Partington of Printed Matter Vancouver 7 pm Thursday, January 11 Open mic sign up begins at 6:30 and closes at 7 Angst Gallery 1015 Main Street Vancouver, WA 98660
Neil Aitken is the author of Babbage’s Dream (Sundress 2017) and The Lost Country of Sight (Anhinga 2008), which received the Philip Levine Prize, as well as the poetry chapbook, Leviathan. His work has been published in American Literary Review, Crab Orchard Review, The Dialogist, Ninth Letter, The Normal School, The Southern Poetry Review, and many other journals. A former computer programmer and a past Kundiman Poetry Fellow, he is the founding editor of Boxcar Poetry Review, curator of Have Book Will Travel, and co-director of De-Canon: A Visibility Project. He also hosts The Lit Fantastic, a podcast about writers and their obsessions, and works as a creative writing coach and mentor. Visit him online at www.neil-aitken.com
—a fundamental type used to define numbers with fractional parts
Like a bell, or rather the sound of it opening,
a silence that having tolled speaks again
suspended between states of incompleteness—
a point traversing a numbered landscape.
This country of small infinities is what we do
with what remains: bits of window panes,
refracted light, what gathers in the torn leaves
from the dimming edge of the red fields
grown dark. Say what you will, the body is no more
than the moon, a white trouser button in a pool
of gasoline, a halo of ash and flame
ascending the ladder of night.