Last Tuesdays Poetry; September 25, 2018

by Danielle Champiet-Coronado

We are a world immersed in poetry. From our first nursery rhymes to the music we bathe ourselves in daily; poetry surrounds us constantly. Even the books we love so much have splashes of poetry throughout to make the emotions stronger and the story more tangible. Steinbeck, Hemingway, even Stephen King all creatively use poetry to help us connect to their writings. JK Rowling and Arundhati Roy are the rock stars of poetry infusion. I mean, how fun would Harry Potter have been if he was just a boy with a stick and too much free time?

On the topic of rock stars, one fantastic addition to Barnes and Noble’s cornucopia is an AWESOME vinyl collection! Bowie, Dylan, Queen, Miles Davis, Imagine Dragons, Morrissey, The Lumineers are just a few of the albums that Barnes and Noble is currently selling and turntable systems too. Don’t get me wrong, I do love CDs and MP3s, but there is something special about the crisp, tangible sound that only vinyl can deliver. It’s a more intimate experience. David Bowie on vinyl sounds like he’s singing to me in my living room. Even though I can’t sing to save anyone’s life and don’t really play any instruments, music is my raison d’être and seeing these albums with their gorgeous covers was the highlight of my month.

That level of intimacy and authenticity is also a quality you find at poetry readings. The Last Tuesdays Poetry Event has been nothing short of the mystery grab bag that’s full of the very best surprises. Even we, the hosts, never know who will be reading at the open mic sessions or what they will read and there’s usually an interesting story that accompanies each poem. New faces quickly become old friends as the attendance grows and that’s my favorite part; all of the interesting people that we meet month after month. After the reading concludes, there’s plenty of time to socialize with each other and the featured poets.

Stephen Lackaye (pronounced Lack-ee) was our guest poet for the evening with his debut collection, ‘Self-Portrait in Dystopian Landscape’, winner of the Unicorn Press First Book Competition. A fabulous book with a musical name and a revolutionary theme: the observer being observed. Sporting an eclectic style, Mr. Lackaye’s poetry can best be described as having the rugged adventures of Hemingway with the embellishment of Nostradamus and the East Coast moxie that is all Stephen Lackaye.

Stephen Lackaye reading from ‘Self-Portrait in Dystopian Landscape

During his reading, Mr. Lackaye gave an excellent explanation for the moxie that seems innate to all East Coasters, especially New Yorkers, and that is because “all of the superheroes lived in New York.” I’ve never stopped and thought about that but it’s true. On the West Coast we have Sasquatches and maybe the lion’s share of UFO sightings but no superheroes. I think the closest we’ve gotten were Shawn Spencer (Psych) and Charles Bartowski (Chuck). Maybe one day a talented graphic novelist will change all of that for us.

Superhero habitation was just one of the many anecdotes that Mr. Lackaye shared during his reading. He is that strong but gentle current that draws you in and entices you to swim in his rustic and urban tide pools. Mr. Lackaye is funny and charming as he read selections from his book. Each poem is an interesting tale that is both somewhere and anywhere. They imbue the reader with a sense of being in that character’s head or at least observing close enough to feel what they feel and see what they see; a shared experience that creates a bond between the reader and the book. Mr. Lackaye also treated us to some of his newer works that centered more on current topics and family and being a better parent to his children than he had experienced growing up, “I wake long enough to watch them disappear in bright coats in daylight, too far grown for the hours I’ve known them.” A sentiment all parents can appreciate.

Butterfly excerp

Every month we feature a literary journal or two and, thanks to the renovations to our reading space by the Barnes and Noble staff, we were able to highlight even more! Rattle, Writer’s Digest, Poets & Writers magazine and Poetry journal were the selections for this reading. Copies of each are available in the Barnes and Noble bookstores in the Newsstand section. In celebration of September being National Translation month, we chose it to begin showcasing international collections translated into English. The Inferno by Dante Alighieri/translated by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Shahnameh (The Persian Book of Kings) by Abolqasem Ferdowsi/translated by Dick Davis, The Odyssey by Homer/translated by Robert Fitzgerald and Selected Poems of Rainer Maria Rilke/translated by Robert Bly christened our new venture.

I am a HUGE enthusiast of international poetry and my latest interest has been Hindi love poems. Love is love anywhere, you may say, and that is undeniably true. While the emotions explored are the same, the styles, the expressions, the perspectives paint it all in a beautiful, new light. David Hill gave a brilliant reading in German and then in English of Palm by Rainer Maria Rilke, but if we listen with the heart, one doesn’t need to know what the words mean to feel the beauty of what they express. We’ve enjoyed a number of songs over the years that were not in English; 99 Luftballons by Nena, Malaika by Miriam Makeba or La Bamba by Ritchie Valens. Another more recent example is from the popular TV show Bones. One of the characters, Arastoo Vaziri (played by Pej Vahdat) read the most gorgeous poem in Farsi to his girlfriend, Cam Saroyan (played by Tamara Taylor). Translation was not needed to feel the love and romance that Arastoo felt for Cam. I wish I had a video of that scene to link here but I wasn’t able to find one.

Open Mic Readers

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Please join us on October 30th at 7pm. Our featured guest will be poet and newly appointed Clark County Poet Laureate, Gwendolyn Morgan, reading from her books, ‘Crow Feathers, Red Ochre, Green Tea’ and Snowy Owls, Egrets and Unexpected Graces’. Also joining us is Clark County Arts Commissioner, LaRae Zawodny.

The Last Tuesdays poetry group is co-hosted by David Hill, Cathie Padgett and myself at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Vancouver, WA. All are welcome to attend this community event and, if they wish, read a family-friendly poem or two during our open mic sessions. If you are an avid open mic reader, Tiger Talk hosted by Joyce Colson gathers on the third Wednesday of each month at the Paper Tiger coffeehouse and Ghost Town Poetry hosted by Christopher Luna has an open mic on the 2nd Thursday of each month.

All books are available for purchase either in the Barnes and Noble store or online at BN.com:

Self-Portrait in Dystopian Landscape

Villain Songs

A Carnival of Loss

Crow Feathers, Red Ochre, Green Tea

Snowy Owls, Egrets and Unexpected Graces

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