Total Pageviews

Christopher Luna by Alisha Jucevic for the Columbian

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

Friday, March 4, 2011


MARCH 2011
Compiled and edited by
Christopher Luna

Local photographer Tina Tran

Many thanks to all those who came to Niche last Saturday for our first bilingual poetry reading. Tina Tran spoke about the Vietnamese culture and read a few poems in Vietnamese and English. We were honored to have her parents in attendance. Then we heard from Sarah Arslanian, who sung a song in Chinese as well a few tunes from her latest CD, “Darling.” We finished up with a few of my own poems, which I read accompanied by Stuart Jackson on upright bass. Tina has posted video of the reading on Facebook. It was a great evening of poetry and music. I am grateful to Leah Jackson for allowing me to put together events like these.

I am hoping that this will be the first of many multilingual poetry events this year and beyond, so if you or any of your family and friends would like to present poetry in a language other than English, please let me know.

On March 12 I will facilitate my monthly poetry workshop at Niche (1013 Main Street, Vancouver), also known as “The Work.” The workshop costs $20 (or three workshops for $45). We discuss and listen to poetry and writing based on a series of prompts that I will provide. For inspiration, we also listen to recorded examples of poems from my personal collection. No pre-registration is required, but if you join us please bring a poem of your own to share by way of introduction.

I also want to thank Marci McReynolds for opening her beautiful home to us for February’s open mic, featuring Turiya Autry ( Marci’s expansive living room was the perfect spot for what turned out to be an emotional event filled with laughter, sadness, and wonder. I am particularly grateful to Turiya’s friends, who made the long journey from Portland to support her, and in some cases, to blow us away with their own work.

This is how you support community: Congratulations are due to Steve Williams and Constance Hall ( for their successful, transcendent reading featuring Patricia Smith. I am also happy that they decided to have Mel Sanders ( sell books at the event.

This is how you keep poetry alive: We were also treated to an amazing reading at Paper Tiger Coffee, hosted by Dan Nelson and featuring Jenney Pauer. This was one of the best poetry readings I have ever been to—the work was consistently good, and my reaction ran the gamut of emotions. I alternated between laughing, crying, and staring ahead in astonishment. For example, I wept uncontrollably at the finish of Dennis McBride's incredible piece which invites us to contemplate that Hitler may have once had love in his heart. Or Jeff Samuelsen's hilarious depiction of an estrogen-fueled Western. To read my comments about this event, as well as a slightly filthy collage poem gleaned from my fellow poets, go to:

Brautigan scholar John S. Barber shares a few memories
of Richard Brautigan with the crowd at January's open mic 

I also posted photos from our Richard Brautigan reading at the Clark County Historical Museum:

David and Caroline Chaparro
of Sea of Oaks
Photo by Anni Becker

This is how you nurture a neighborhood’s creativity: I also want to congratulate Greg Bee, Cara Cottingham, and everyone involved in Nada, a multimedia spectacular at Tryckpress Galleri that featured art, improv, dance, and music including a great set by Sea of Oaks. If you haven’t seen Sea of Oaks yet, you’re missing out on two incredibly inventive and talented musicians.

This is how you get The Work out there: Finally, congratulations to Cedar Sigo for his excellent book Stranger in Town, published by City Lights (, and Sage Cohen, whose The Productive Writer was recently released by Writer’s Digest Books ( I encourage you to pick up both of these books.

Cedar and I were classmates at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics ( I really enjoyed seeing Cedar again—after more than a decade--at his recent reading in Portland.

One of the things that makes VoiceCatcher 5 so special is that it includes great art work from women in our community such as Anni Becker and April Bullard. Although the submission window for writing has closed, artists can submit their work for VoiceCatcher 6 through the end of this month. Please see for submission guidelines.

For this month’s open mic, we will gather at Gallery 360, which is run by some of the same people behind Sixth Street Gallery. Their grand opening featured a wonderful photography exhibit. The gallery is housed in a great space which is perfect for our needs.

The Ghost Town Poetry Tour continues*
Open Mic Poetry
hosted by Christopher Luna and Toni Partington
7pm March 10, 2011
(and every second Thursday)

This month’s reading will be held at a special location:

Gallery 360
111 West 9th St.
Vancouver, WA

With our featured reader, Dennis McBride, the author of Looking for Peoria and Killing the Mockingbird (both from Quiet Lion Press) and recipient of the 1996 Andreas Berger Award for poetry

*While Cover to Cover Books rebuilds after a recent fire, Christopher Luna is taking the open mic series he founded in 2004 on tour to various poetry-friendly locations in or near downtown Vancouver.

Dennis McBride
Photo by Elizabeth Archers

Birds in search of a poem
by Dennis McBride

When the galaxy of South American swallows
returns to fill the Anchorage evening sky
with their swift black constellations,
this is not the poem.
But have you seen them!
I mean the million birds expanding and contracting
for real, on the edge of chaos,
right up there above you,
neck-bending, head-looking-up real
and then also in the sky of the mind --
the mind that knows only the small facts of migration,
where they are from, where they are going.
The mind that is reduced to the mud-star wonder of it.
It! This hundred thousand million birds
shooting and swirling and darting
above the giant grade school chimney
awaiting the soft signal of dusk to descend into it
like a million black sky rabbits disappearing
back into the magician’s large stone hat.
This is not the poem.
But when the last five become the last one.
When the inscrutable instruction
swallows the last Swallow into the giant mouth.
When the great stone chimney
is silent and still.
This is the poem.


Here’s to more great poetry in March,
Christopher Luna

MARCH 2011


1. Dan Raphael reads from “Children of the Blue Supermarket” March 7 and 13 (Portland, OR)

2. Dirty Queer open mic at In Other Words March 11 (Portland)

3. SPLAB presents a reading and workshop with Nathaniel Mackey March 11 and 12 (Columbia City, WA)

4. Figures of Speech Reading with Clem Starck and Jay Nebel at In Other Words March 15

5. Open Mic with featured reader Alex Birkett at Paper Tiger Coffee March 17 (Vancouver)

6. “Song of the Third World Birds,” a new poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

7. Artist Trust's Grants for Artist Projects (Deadline: May 10, 2011)

8. “Adrift in a Sea of Oaks” and a short poem for Anni Becker by Christopher Luna


This week's edition of 3 Friends Monday, produced by Show and Tell Gallery (, celebrates the release of new CD, live performances of poetry by dan raphael, saxophone by Rich Halley and drums by Carson Halley. Children of the Blue Supermarket was recorded at the Penofin Jazz Festival in 2008 & 9.

Impulse & Warp: The Selected 20th Century Poems contains works from dan raphael's first 13 collections. He has performed at Wordstock, Bumbershoot, Powell's Books, Burning Word and the Portland Jazz Festival.

Live at the Penofin Jazz Festival by the Rich Halley Quartet was recently reviewed in Downbeat. Rich Halley is a linchpin of creative jazz on the west coast, through various combos, including a yearly outdoor performance on Powell Butte, Carson Halley plays in a number of combos, including the Vibration Path Quarter with their upcoming CD Requiem for a Viper. The show will have a little solo poetry at the end, a big middle of all three of us, & closing with from Rich and Carson. They'll be followed by the weekly Show and Tell Open Mic, sign-up at 8 p.m.

And on Sunday, March 13th, dan rapahel is joining Tola Molotkov (a poetic force of nature) 7pm, as featured readers at Stonehenge Gallery, 3508 SW Corbett. Our reading is followed by an hour of open mike. Both events are free and open as the prairie.


Dirty Queer
Fri, March 11, 6:30pm – 8:30pm

In Other Words Books
14 Killingsworth St.
Portland, OR 97211

Dirty Queer is an X rated open mic: a place to celebrate sexuality and strut your creative stuff! Hosted by renegade writer and poet Sossity Chiricuzio, Dirty Queer has proven itself to be a thought provoking evening of excitement, passion, laughter and full body shivers. We're looking for queer erotic entertainers of all sorts: dancers, jugglers, singers, musicians, comics, poets, storytellers, magicians, gender performers ... if you can do it in 5 minutes or less (w/ minimal props/equip), this open mic's for you! We average over 120 people a month, so come early if you want a seat. Everyone who attends has a chance to win door prizes from local businesses, as well as a percentage off items at our very own feminist bookstore and host, IOW! Your donation of $1-$5/person for this event goes directly to supporting IOW, and more donations are always welcome. Caveats: 18+, consent is key, no hate speech, sign up is first come, first serve. Need a dose of Dirty Queer sooner than that? Come check out our photos, samples, bios, videos, and podcast on our website: Contact:

sign ups for the open mic will be first come, first serve as always - we may not be able to get to everyone on the list if we run out of time. we're averaging 120+ people these days, so come early if you want a seat!

After Dirty Queer, get Bent! it's a big huge sweaty dirty hot queer dance party w/ dj's jodi bon jodi and roy b giv. 9pm until late, $3, foggy notion, 3416 N Lombard.

Saturday, March 12 - Kicked Out Anthology in Portland!

Featuring readings from local contributors and anthology editor/ former Portland local Sassafras Lowrey. Kicked Out published by Homofactus Press brings together the voices of current and former homeless LGBTQ youth and tells these forgotten stories of some of our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Diverse contributors share stories of survival and abuse with poignant accounts of the sanctuary of community and the power of creating chosen families. 6-8pm, In Other Words.

for more info on dirty queer, including podcasts (which will be updated as soon as we get a new host) from previous shows, see our website:

From Paul Nelson:

SPLAB welcomes legendary poet, essayist, novelist and editor Nathaniel Mackey to Columbia City, for a reading & workshop at the new SPLAB location, 3651 S. Edmunds, Seattle, in the Cultural Corner of the former Columbia School and a talk at the NW African-American Museum. For more information:

On Friday, March 11, Mackey gives a talk and prose reading at 7:00 pm at the Northwest African-American Museum, 2300 S. Massachusetts St.

He’ll read from his latest prose collection and answer questions from Moderator Paul Nelson and Interlocutor, University of Washington/Bothell professor Jeanne Heuving.

Admission is $5, and space is limited. The event is co-sponsored by the CD Forum.

On Saturday, March 12, Mackey will lead an afternoon writing workshop from 1:00 to 4:00 pm, followed by a public reading at 7:30 pm. Admission to the public reading is $5. The workshop and reading will be held at SPLAB, 3651 S Edmunds in the Cultural Corner of the former Columbia School.

The workshop cost is $75 per person, and space is limited. To register for the Nate Mackey workshop, or for more information, please contact Paul Nelson at or call 206-422-5002.

Sponsored by 4Culture, Poets and Writers, CD Forum, The Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, The Shirley Marvin Hotel, Richard Hugo House and WESTAF.

From Steve Williams:

First of all, thank you to all who came to see Patricia Smith on Feb 11th and PSU and 4 nights later at the 100th monkey to see Jon Seaman and Don Colburn. Both evenings were very special to both of us.

We are pleased to officially announce that Figures of Speech has found a new home at the independent feminist bookstore "In Other Words." Both the reading series on the third Tuesday of the month and the critique group on the second Sunday of the month will be meeting there starting in March. The reading series will start at 7 p.m. each month and the critique group will be from 4 - 6 p.m. except for March 13th when will be there from 1 - 3 p.m.

Note: March’s critique group has been canceled.

We want to support our local bookstores and think this will a good partnership. In that vein, we will start offering broadsides at each reading with poems from the two featured readers for that month. We ask you make a minimum donation to In Other Words of $5.00 and we will give you a broadside in return. Smaller donations of $1-$4 are also welcome or else you can certainly purchase something from the store (they'll be open for both events). We think this is a good way to support the venue and we want to do our part in making sure it stays solvent.

Our next event 7 p.m. on March 15th at In Other Words features a past Oregon Book Award winner (Clem Starck) and someone we think has a shot at being a future winner (Jay Nebel).

This will be our first reading at our new venue.

CLEMENS STARCK is a Princeton drop-out and a former merchant seaman. He has worked at many jobs, but mostly as a carpenter and construction foreman on the West Coast—San Francisco, British Columbia, and Oregon. His first book of poems, Journeyman’s Wages, received the 1996 Oregon Book Award as well as the William Stafford Memorial Poetry Award from the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association. His next two books—Studying Russian on Company Time (1999) and China Basin (2002)—were also finalists for the Oregon Book Award. His most recent collection, Traveling Incognito, is a letterpress chapbook from Wood Works in Seattle. He lives on forty-some acres in the country outside of Dallas, Oregon, in the mid-Willamette Valley.

Jay Nebel’s poems have appeared in journals including Tin House, New Orleans Review, Massachusetts Review, Poetry Northwest and are forthcoming in American Poetry Review. He lives in Portland with his wife and their almost four year old son Maximus. Jay is thankful that he has not had a speeding ticket in over 3 years and that currently there are no warrants out for his arrest.

From Dan Nelson

Hello again poetry lovers,

Thanks to everyone who promoted or attended our February reading at Paper Tiger. It was an amazing night! Jenney Pauer kept us spellbound with here powerful imagery and gut wrenching words. This woman has been through the fire that would've melted my waxen core yet it tempered her iron into steel. Don't know how that small frame carries such a huge and giving heart. Thank you so much, Jenney! And our biggest crowd yet really rose to the occasion by delivering an outstanding selection of great verse. Pathos, humor, rage, surrealism, love, lust, and paradigm shattering insights were all there. I really thank all of you for a night so inspiring I couldn't let go of it enough to sleep.

For next months event, Thursday, March 17th at 7pm at Paper Tiger Coffeehouse,(703 Grand blvd. in Vancouver, located between Mill Plain and Evergreen about a mile east of I-5), we will be featuring, in addition to our usual open mic, the by turns literary, real and surreal, funny, shocking, emotive and always entertaining poet, Alex Birkett. Alex Birkett is a joyful malcontent, whose brief tour through community college served to illustrate how little he knows. And he is okay with that. A painter and philosopher at birth, he discovered writing while dreaming on a Grey Hound bus bound for Vancouver Washington where he now resides.

Here is an appetizer of his work to whet your appetite.

Agamemnon’s Fortune Cookie by Alex Birkett
"Someone out there is interested in you. Pay close attention"

Strange and terrible that foreboding words
Spring from delicious treats.
To me they dictate detestable fate;
That I, ignorant, am pursued by something sweet
And that I perish in turn pursuing dates!
Strangers that I might know sharpen their hatchets,
So I'll dismiss banquets, baths, and avoid the nets!

Many times I have relieved myself by rationalizing the improbability of doom saying fortune cookies.

But I am always troubled by an intuitive pang that I am ignoring Cassandra, my waitress, whom I insist on tipping very well.

Hope to see you all there for great beverages, great company and some of the finest poetry in the PNW.

And btw; Someone left a Grey/Blue Knitted Scarf made of Acrylic and Mohair from American Eagle Outfitters. If it's yours or you know who left it contact Toni Partington @

Dan Nelson

A new poem by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Note from Christopher Luna: Blogspot did not allow me to maintain the original formatting of this poem. Pleas see if you would like to see how this poem is supposed to look:

Lawrence Ferlinghetti at City Lights in San Francisco

A cock cried out in my sleep
somewhere in Middle America
to awake the Middle Mind
of America

And the cock cried out
to awake me to see
a sea of birds
flying over me
across America

And there were birds of every color
black birds & brown birds
& yellow birds & red birds
from the lands of every
liberation movement

And all these birds circled the earth
and flew over every great nation
and over fortress America
with its great eagle
and its thunderbolts

And all the birds cried out with one voice
the voice of those who have no voice
the voice of the invisibles of the world
the voice of the dispossessed of the world
the fellaheen peoples of earth

And which side are you on
sang the birds
Oh which side are you on
in the Third World War
the war against the Third World?

Artist Trust's Grants for Artist Projects (GAP)
Online Applications Available
Application Deadline: May 10, 2011

Individual artists who reside in Washington State are encouraged to apply to the 2011 GAP (Grants for Artist Projects) Program. Artist Trust's GAP Program provides support for individual artist projects by awarding up to $1,500 for projects including (but not limited to) the development, completion or presentation of new work. Last year 795 artists applied to the GAP Program and 63 artists were funded from around the State.

The GAP Program is open to artists working in all creative disciplines including visual, performing, literary, media, emerging and cross-disciplinary arts. Applicants must be residents of Washington State but cannot be a graduate or undergraduate student enrolled in a degree program.

A peer review panel of artists and art professionals from across Washington State selects GAP recipients. The panel's selections are based foremost on the artistic excellence of an artist's work as represented in their application.

To apply, visit Applications must be submitted online by 5:00pm on May 10, 2011. Artists are invited to visit Artist Trust's office or visit your local library for free online access.

Artists are encouraged to attend a "How to Build A Strong Grant Application Workshop" and "Applying for the GAP" webinars offered free for all artists. Visit for more information.

Artist Trust is a not-for-profit organization whose sole mission is to support and encourage individual artists working in all disciplines in order to enrich community life throughout Washington State.

Contact: Miguel Guillen, Program Manager; 206/467-8734 x11; toll-free 1/866/218-7878

Poems inspired by Nada
By Christopher Luna
Caroline Chaparro of Sea of Oaks
Photo by Anni Becker
Adrift in a Sea of Oaks


Welcome to my little world
where you are free to exhale
         ever so gently
   unanticipated forgiveness
into the atmosphere.

We can ride it.
We refuse to be paralyzed.

I promise to open my eyes this time.

I have made it this far.

I am determined to see.

            The centipede will not stop me.
            No marionette can block my path.
            My airway is open

                                              clear of obstruction
                                              rid of bile

             new semblance of openheartedness
             blossoms without delay

and we fade
nicely into the
moment after
this one
watch the frame
fall away

Cara Cottingham at NADA
Photo by Anni Becker


There is a creep inside each of us. “Hasn’t had a kiss in 12 years.” Sit down beside him. Let him go. Set him free to stalk your long-forgotten woe, like Marcel’s fever dream. “Everything’s OK, even thought it doesn’t seem like it is.” Take this aphorism. May it serve you well. My cracked gift to you. “It’s just a feeling.” Cara likes paranormal things.

Actually, it is a story. Only a story. Thankfully temporary. If you don’t like the story you’ve been telling yourself, launch a new narrative. Face the horrific possibility of a new page. Fall in. Fill it with the contents of your head.

The cat waits. Honored to sit beneath you. The cat does not contribute; instead he watches the proceedings silently, occasionally mumbling, surveilling the scene. Blank. Aloof. Toe twitches. Tail swings. This too is illusion. Cotton candy gleam in your eye. First eye. Slit. Observing all. Reserving comment.

Allow your focus to drift and the veil falls away. You are now able to perceive the space between. The negative space in which The Real resides. In which The Truth Hides, waiting for you to take its hand.

Christopher Luna
at NADA 2011
by Anni Becker

A short, as-yet-untitled poem
in honor of Anni Becker

Anni: abandon fear
get right up in her grill
make love to her nose
become the Eye of us all

Christopher Luna
Tryckpress Galleri
Vancouver, WA
February 5, 2011

Brittney at NADA
Photo by Anni Becker

No comments: