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Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian

Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian
Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian

Saturday, December 5, 2009

DECEMBER POETRY E-NEWSLETTER: Tommy Gaffney, Heather Evanson, and Christopher Luna at Alberta Street Pub Monday, Dec. 7/ Casey Bush at Cover to Cover Books Thursday, Dec. 10

Poetry lovers,

Congratulations to the VoiceCatcher collective for a successful and well-attended reading at Angst Gallery last night. A portion of the proceeds benefited the Women’s Empowerment Coalition, who held a silent auction to raise money for their work at the YWCA with victims of domestic violence ( Constance Hall graciously read a story from the latest anthology by an imprisoned member of the collective, and a packed crowd was entertained and visibly moved by the stories and poems shared by Christi Krug, Carolyn Martin, Darlene Pagán, and Toni Partington. Toni read a poem for Gordon Patterson, a local teacher and bicyclist who was killed in a hit and run incident. One of Patterson’s students was present, and thanked Toni for her poem. It made me happy and proud to see several generations of women come together to celebrate and encourage female creativity and resilience, and to call for an end to violence against women. Congratulations to all.

Check out Alex Birkett’s excellent interview with Toni Partington about Voice Catcher 4 for Guerilla Media:

Congratulations also to my friend Brittany Baldwin, who is not only one of the best poets in Portland, but also one of its greatest chefs. Her catering business, Portland Home Chef (, is doing very well. Recently, Mother Nature News included her in an article about 40 chefs under 40. The story was soon picked up by Fortune Magazine. See item 5 below. I have also included one of Brittany’s poems, so you can see what I’m talking about.

Poetry does not slow down for the holidays. For example, Sage Cohen has passed her successful reading series on to Steve Williams and Constance Hall, who are doing great work in the Portland poetry community as members of OSPA and the VoiceCatcher collective. For more information about the new series, go to:, or take a look at item 3 below.

I would like to thank Sage Cohen ( for all the positive energy she brings to the scene. Sage proves that one can succeed without stomping all over others in the process. Sage invited me to be a featured reader at the Barnes and Noble series, so I count myself among those who are indebted to her for spreading the word.

Here is a recent article on Melissa Sillitoe and Luke Lefler and the great work they’ve been doing at Three Friends Coffee House and Show and Tell Gallery:

Here is a review of the recent excellent Three Friends reading, which featured Sara Gest, Sage Cohen, and Kristin Berger, all members of the VoiceCatcher collective:

I recently posted my Ghost Town entries for August and September:

Tommy Gaffney has kindly invited me to read with him on December 7, at the Book Release bash for his latest book, Whiskey Days:

Tommy Gaffney’s newest collection of stories and poetry, Whiskey Days (Night Bomb Press), is coming out in early December and is available for pre-order on the Night Bomb Press site now. Gaffney describes Whiskey Days as a “natural follow up to Three Beers From Oblivion, a little older, a little wiser, and bound to appeal to lovers of literature and Kentucky whiskey alike.” Willy Vlautin (Northline, The Motel Life) sings the praises of Whiskey Days, saying: “underneath the whiskey there’s a great poet here. ‘Grass Stains’ and “The Man Who Sold The World’ alone are worth the ride.”

The Alberta Street Pub will host an evening of “books and booze, music and muses” in celebration of Whiskey Days release December 7th at 7:00pm. Joining Gaffney at the Book Release Bash will be local poets Heather Evanson and Christopher Luna. The reading will be followed by a set from the instrumental surf band The Splashdowns.

"Heather was made and born in the state of Wyoming but grew up in a small town in Montana because all the towns there are small. She now lives in Portland, Oregon where she’s paid to sell forgetfulness. She is the author of many short works that few have had the pleasure of reading; however, some of her words have appeared in The Night Bomb Review and some have been performed on the airwaves of Portland’s community radio."

And, of course, don’t forget to join us for:

Open Mic Poetry
hosted by Christopher Luna
7:00pm Thursday, December 10, 2009
& every second Thursday
Cover to Cover Books
1817 Main Street, Vancouver
McLoughlin Blvd. & Main Street
“always all ages and uncensored”

for more info call 514-0358 or 910-1066

With our featured reader, Casey Bush:

Casey Bush is a senior editor, book reviews and poetry, for The Bear Deluxe Magazine, the Pacific Northwest’s finest environmental arts magazine, and is Non-fiction editor for the on-line literary magazine


they say when she was locked up in a closet by the SLA
Patty Hearst read Plato day and night
the philosopher whose disdain for people
was only matched by his interest in improving them
Plato considered good health
top most next best thing to being good looking
and then he met Socrates grotesquely ugly
and epileptic full of wisdom and warts
never to become an informed consumer
so long as billboards conceal a ravaged countryside
both celibate and syphilitic
what we did learn from the ancients
was not to tell students anything
that might lead directly to knowledge
answer each question with a question
make them earn it
conceal ultimate natural visions of beauty and unity
stash it somewhere in a chicken coop above the clouds
where everything is confidential
and there are periods at the end of each sentence
where everyone has a role
but usually not so well defined
as the pool hall drunk at a church breakfast
words and deeds will not shorten lines at the store
knowing thyself can be a drag
I mean reflection does not necessarily lead to illumination
if you can remember the past
we thank you for your consideration
if you can forgive the present
please serve on our advisory board.


Finally, in January I will begin facilitating a workshop at Angst Gallery entitled “The Work.” We will talk about what it means to be a poet, what poetry means to us, and listen to and read from instructive examples of fellow poets and elders. We will also write and critique new work. This monthly workshop will take place on the second Saturday of every month from 12-2. Please email me for more information.

Go out and spread the word,
Christopher Luna


1. Celebrating Grace Paley December 11 at Broadway Books (Portland)

2. Mapping Your Childhood Workshop with Steve Williams and Constance Hall (Portland)

3. Sage Cohen’s Poetry and Prose for the People Reading Series changes hands in January 2010

4. Carolyn Forché at Whidbey Island Center for the Arts December 13

5. Local poet/chef Brittany Baldwin mentioned in “40 chefs under 40” on Mother Nature Network

6. Paul Nelson’s “A Time Before Slaughter” available now

7. Michael McClure visits Seattle for a reading and workshop in March

8. Jack Foley on Harold Norse


Celebrating Grace Paley - 2009
December 11th at 7pm
Broadway Books - 1714 NE Broadway

On Grace's birthday - this year it's the first night of Chanukah - join us to celebrate the life and work of one of the great American writers and activists of the 20th century. Grace Paley’s decades of streetlevel action are inextricable from her writing; the two were braided passionately together throughout her nearly-85 years.

Featured writers are Gina Ochsner* and BT Shaw* - they'll read from Grace's work and their own. MC is Judith Arcana, author of Grace Paley's Life Stories, A Literary Biography.

Audience members will read bits from Grace's work too - and everybody will probably laugh and think a lot. Then they'll buy books for their own pleasure and for holiday gifts, joyfully taking part in the reading, writing, word-loving community fostered by one of Portland's much-loved independent bookstores.

*Gina Ochsner lives in Keizer, Oregon and divides her time between writing & teaching with the Seattle Pacific Low-Residency MFA program. Her stories have appeared in Glimmertrain, The New Yorker, Tin House, and St. Petersburg Review. Her story collections are The Necessary Grace to Fall (University of Georgia Press 2002, 2009) and People I Wanted to Be. Her novel, The Russian Dreambook of Color and Flight will be out in 2010.

*BT Shaw was born and raised in Central Ohio; now she lives in Portland, happily near the source of some of the city's best Chinese food. She edits the Poetry column for The Oregonian and teaches at Portland State University. Her first book, This Dirty Little Heart, won the Blue Lynx Prize and was published by Eastern Washington University Press in 2008. Like Grace Paley, she, too, has awe for Auden.

For more event info, contact Broadway Books: 503/284.1726 +
For more Grace info:


Mapping Your Childhood
Leaders: Steve Williams & Constance Hall

How well do you remember your old neighborhood? And when was the last time you thought about what happened there during your childhood? For this Mapping Your Childhood Workshop, we will be journeying back in time to those places, people, and events that played a significant role in your development. Using maps you will draw (no prior drawing experience required), and prompts you will be given (such as “think back to a time when you couldn’t stop laughing”), you will bring the place alive again and use what you find there as fertile sources to jump start your writing. If you are suffering from blank page-itis, and no matter whether you prefer fiction, creative non-fiction, memoir, poetry, young adult or children’s writing, this is the workshop for you. You will be given time for free writes based on the maps you’ve drawn and the prompts you’re given, and you will be encouraged to share what you’ve written with other workshop attendees. Please join us. We think you will be amazed by what you will find hiding in that old tree house or down at the playground!

Sunday, December 13th from 1-4pm
Cost: $25
All proceeds to benefit 100th monkey studios.

100th Monkey Studios
110 SE 16th Ave.
Portland, OR 503-232-3457


From Sage Cohen:

Poetry and Prose for the People Reading Series

Change is in the air! 2010 brings a new location, new hosts, new format and new series name.

Dear friend of the Poetry and Prose for the People Reading Series,

Thank you for your kind and generous support of our community of writers! I have enjoyed meeting so many of you over the past five years and simmering together in the possibilities of poetry and prose.

I am writing to let you know of some changes to the series starting in 2010. As we conclude two, inspiration-packed years at Barnes & Noble Lloyd Center, the series will be changing leadership, location and name.

In the hands of your gracious new hosts, Steve Williams and Constance Hall, the series will now be called: Figures of Speech Reading Series, sponsored by the OSPA. The series will take place at The 100th Monkey Studio, meeting on the third Wednesdays of the month, starting in January (with no December reading.) And this event will now include both featured readers and an open mic, to invite community participation and welcome the voices of all in attendance.

I want to send a hearty THANK YOU to Erika Kunders and Jay Nebel, two of the loveliest people I know, Community Relations Managers at Barnes & Noble Lloyd Center who have so generously hosted our series for the past two years. They have been a joy to work with, and we appreciate their warm welcome of our community. I would also like to offer humble thanks to Tomas Mattox, who jumped in to keep the series going strong while I took an extended maternity leave last year and has been my faithful co-host ever since. I couldn't have done it without him! And of course the series could not continue to thrive without the participation of you, our community of writers, listeners and friends. Thank you for all that you do to keep the literary love alive in Portland!

I'll look forward to seeing you at our next reading series event! Details are below!

Wishing you a peaceful and poetic holiday season,
Sage Cohen

When: Third Wednesday of each month at 7 p.m.
Where: 100th monkey art studio at 110 S.E. 16th Ave., PDX
What: Two featured readers each month plus open mic. time (two page max for open mic. readers)
Hosts: Steve Williams/Constance Hall

Join us as we transition from Sage Cohen’s fine reading series into our new home, new name, but hopefully the same warmth/quality/joy that Sage brought each month to the poetry community of Portland.


An evening with Carolyn Forché
Presented by WICA and the Hedgebrook Literary Series
Sunday, December 13th at 6pm
Whidbey Island Center for the Arts
565 Camano Avenue, Langley, WA

Author of four award-winning books of poetry, Ms. Forché's work as a "poet of witness" is revealed through her own writing, and her work as an editor, translator, teacher, and activist. The recipient of a Guggehnheim Foundation Fellowship, she has traveled to El Salvador and worked as a human rights advocate.

Her articles and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Nation, Esquire, Mother Jones, and others. Ms. Forché has held three fellowships from the NEA, and a Lannan Foundation Literary Fellowship. She is presently Professor of English and Lannan Foundation Endowed Chair at Georgetown University. She is a member of Hedgebrook's Creative Advisory Council, a Hedgebrook Fellow and Master Class Instructor

Tickets: $5
360.221.8268 ­ 800/638.7631

More information available at


40 chefs under 40

These rising young culinary stars bring more than just good food to the table -- they link farms to forks and promote better health for people and the planet.

By Matt Hickman, Mother Nture Network

3) Britttany Baldwin, 30
Chef/owner/farmer, Portland Home Chef (
Portland, Ore.

"Portland Home Chef" Brittany Baldwin caters events and cooks delicious, nutritious meals for families throughout the greater Portland area. Her clients savor farm-fresh eggs and seasonal fruits and vegetables from Baldwin's garden, and rave both about the taste and value of the meals she prepares (less than $200 a week for nightly dinners that feed a family of four).

Founded on a zero-waste commitment, Portland Home Chef only buys food that's grown locally from as close to the source as possible, then composts and recycles everything — resulting in reduced food miles, fuel emissions and waste. Clear environmental values, immaculate customer service and memorable meals are the secret recipe for success; without ever advertising, Portland Home Chef has established a solid, long-term customer base and currently has a six-month waiting list.

Baldwin grew up in Denver, where she worked for her mother's landscaping business and honed her culinary craft in Boulder before making her way to the Pacific Northwest. While attending Portland's Le Cordon Blue Culinary Academy, she first conceived the idea of pairing her love of cooking with her family's roots in gardening. Within a few years of establishing Portland Home Chef in 2004, Baldwin rented an old farmhouse on the outskirts of town, established a thriving kitchen garden and began raising chickens and quail. As the only chef/farmer within a 30-mile radius of a major metropolitan area, Baldwin is redefining the personal chef paradigm by bringing the farm to her clients' tables.

6 green cooks

These culinary powerhouses use sustainable, locally grown produce to bring their dishes to the next level. Meet a half dozen under 40, chosen by the Mother Nature Network.

Brittany Baldwin
Age: 30
Chef/owner/farmer, Portland Home Chef
Portland, Ore.

Brittany Baldwin's idea for a catering business was simple: serve clients meals made from her own garden and farm. So simple, it seemed, that no one had bothered to do it. "I tried to find something like it on Google but nothing popped up," says Baldwin, "so I knew it was unique."

Baldwin, 30, graduated from Le Cordon Blue Culinary Academy in Portland before opening Portland Home Chef five years ago. She rented a half-acre farm and began raising quail and chicken. Soon her garden was thriving with beets, sweet peppers, onions, and salad greens.

Costing about $200 a week for a family of four, Baldwin arranges personal meals. Instead of ordering pizza, for example, she'll make a family dinner that looks something like this: mixed greens with goat cheese, chicken breasts stuffed with local mushrooms, and chocolate crepes filled with mousse. "`Locavore' was just coming on the scene -- I thought that was a perfect match," she says.

Baldwin's idea spread throughout Portland and she now has a waiting list longer than six months. A typical customer might be a young family of four that is too busy to organize dinner; or a grandmother following new dietary restrictions; or a wealthy couple who wants to entertain guests with fresh, local produce. "All the time and realize how lucky I am," says Baldwin." I wake up, I go out in garden, and I pull the order."

By Christopher Tkaczyk and Scott Cendrowski, reporters

And They Do, And It Does
by Brittany Baldwin

Refusing to settle for the expectations of my form
I run my hands over butter
and smudge it across the bottom of a hot pan
with my fingers lightly.
I close my eyes instead of looking for you,
I close my eyes and think of all the men
I’ve tried to explain this to,
but before I have a chance
they’ve already decided I must be gay,
I must’ve been beaten,
I’m way too damaged to be here on the other side
of things
mixing fire and metal on food.
Scared of the work in your hands,
settling against doors of misunderstandings
trying to create love,
trying to form love into a shape in my hands,
when there is only work
I am only working food through my skin.
They cannot see the rhythm,
they cannot see the processes,
they only see me with my eyes closed
in a cloud of stress and time.

My boss tries to talk to me,
tries to get me to start again
get me to slip butter across my pans
flip lines into meat
flip posole into circles that fall back on themselves
wrapped in a clear butter my teacher at school classifies as fat.
And maybe that’s the whole thing,
the way we classify things around us
into fears, advantages and games,
A game because each person throws you into a different title
and in the decision, in their impressions
I am crazy trying to find my rhythm and my desire to love what I am cooking.
I am oscillating between my ability to gain energy, an illusion this body can hold me to.
I am above thirty tables of tickets and papers of directions,
I am standing above them with my eyes closed because I used to look for you
and I can’t let myself do that anymore,
I am at the ocean in downtown Portland.
I am no longer trying to find you on the floor, watching the rhythm you have
with silver, paper and cloth.

There are clouds and rock.
I am at the ocean in my mind
and my boss has stopped to watch me,
coming close to ask what’s wrong,
what am I doing, am I okay.
He probably thinks it’s these tickets,
it’s the heat, it’s the stress,
but its just that I want to be held again
and held while I sleep

There’s a beauty though,
there’s the ocean,
there’s the Italian man in the movie I saw last week and he represents
everything I am waiting to happen,
leaning into the power of the hand holding me
if it won’t let you
“keep her scared,
keep her crazy,
keep them away from her until I get there,
can you hold her up until I get there”

and they do, and it does



A Time Before Slaughter
by Paul Nelson (

About the Book

In this epic poem, Paul Nelson re-enacts the history of Auburn, Washington, originally known as the town of Slaughter. Written in the spirit of William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, and Michael McClure, A Time Before Slaughter explores the history of this Northwestern place from the myths of Native people to the xenophobia toward Japanese-Americans, from the urge to control to the hunger for liberation. Set against the backdrop of a towering dormant volcano (Mt. Rainier), the beauty of the verse pays homage to the beauty of the place. "Here's one more big hunk of the American shoulder," said poet Michael McClure. "As Olson carved his from the North East, Nelson takes his from the Pacific North West. It's beautiful time-space in new words."

About the Author

Paul Everett Nelson is founder of the nonprofit Global Voices Radio and co-founder of the Northwest SPokenword LAB (SPLAB!). A radio broadcaster from 1980 to 2006, he has interviewed hundreds of authors, poets, activists, and whole-system theorists for a syndicated public affairs radio program. Nelson is past president of the Washington Poets Association. He lives in Seattle.

List Price


Pbk, 156 pp., B&W 6 x 9 in Perfect Bound on Creme

7. McClure

March 12-13, 2010
Rainier Valley Cultural Center
3515 S. Alaska St, Seattle, WA

Register for a workshop, reading, and lecture with the renowned poet.

Space is limited for the Saturday, March 13 workshop.

Private Lecture by Michael McClure ($30)
March 12, 2010, 7:30 PM

Workshop with Michael McClure ($100)
March 13, 2010, 1-4 PM

Public Reading with Michael McClure ($10)
March 13, 2010, 7:30 PM

All Events with Michael McClure ($140)
March 12-13, 2010


Thanks to Jason Mashak for forwarding this link to Jack Foley’s remembrance of Harold Norse in Contemporary Poetry Review:

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