by Danielle Champiet-Coronado
As we gathered on this most festive of occasions to commune with the artistic voices of the past and present, our eyes were treated to a plethora of delights. With the sun setting on All Hallows Eve, Barnes and Noble prepared for the season of merriment and giving. Beautiful decorations adorned the store from corner to corner providing the perfect showcase for fabulous gift ideas for the book lover in your life such as Barnes and Noble’s very own cozy socks and throws. I can personally attest to their softness and comfort. There’s nothing better than sinking into a good book while swaddled in a soft, warm blanket and enjoying a great cup of coffee (tea and cocoa too!).
David Hill greeted our magnificent group of poetry enthusiasts, fellow poets and honored guests. Our hosting team is a smooth-flowing trio, but David is the veteran of the three of us and has well-honed skills when it comes to hosting these events and connecting with guest-poets. Another integral part of the success of our events is Bjorn Sorensen, Community Business Development Manager at the Barnes and Noble bookstore in Vancouver, WA. Mr. Sorensen is also instrumental in the guest selection process and exceptional at making sure that we have what we need for a successful event.
To start the evening off, David invited our third hosting member, Cathie Padgett, to talk about the featured poetry journals. Cathie chose Poetry Magazine and Tin House and extolled their artistic merits. At the end of her presentation she shared part of ‘The Owl’ by Matthew Sweeney from Poetry Magazine. Later in the event, David revisited the journals adding that “they are a good place to start publishing and a good place to research what is being published.” The literary journals are located in the Newsstand section of the store next to the Starbucks Café.
Our first guest-speaker, Clark County Arts Commissioner LaRae Zawodny spoke in detail about the requirements and process for choosing a Poet Laureate for Clark County. Her opening statement was an encouraging call-to-arms for the arts, “we all can do something to try to promote the arts, the appreciation of literature, the appreciation of each other, of each other’s words and each other’s voices.” Her sunny and enthusiastic presentation not only makes it hard to resist such a rallying cry but also deepens the appreciation for our Arts Commissioners and Poet Laureates. The hefty 3-part process of selection; the application, the evaluation and the interview are a bit of a gauntlet run for all parties. Why is important that we have a Poet Laureate? They are vital to the promotion of art and artists to the community at large and expanding the role of art in that community. Ms. Zawodny holds an MFA from Claremont Graduate University in California and has spent seven years as a secondary teacher in visual and performing arts for the Vancouver School District. Her paintings have been displayed in numerous galleries and museums throughout the Pacific Northwest and internationally at the Mercedes Benz Corporation in Frankfurt, Germany and she has served as Clark County Arts Commissioner for the past 2 years.
We were double-blessed with honored guests as our second speaker of the evening was our newly appointed Poet Laureate, Gwendolyn Morgan! Her graceful and giving spirit enveloped the room as she greeted everyone and treated them to a brief history of the upcoming holiday. “Samhain/Halloween, Day of the Dead, All Souls Day/All Saints Day, in so many places….around the world ancestors were invited back into our homes to join in an annual reunion, a remembrance. So houses and paths were illuminated, to light the way from the grave and back again, to guide the ghosts safely to family and friends who are waiting to welcome them.” Ms. Morgan went on to give thanks to the Salishan/Chinook tribe whose land we reside upon. Each Poet Laureate brings their own special touch to the role and Ms. Morgan’s has included a sense of gratitude and appreciation to all of our ancestors, in particular those of the First Nations, and nature.
As she read selected poems from her books, ‘Crow Feathers, Red Ochre, Green Tea’ and ‘Snowy Owls, Egrets, & Unexpected Graces’, her spouse, Judy A. Rose offered an impromptu performance on the Native American flute. That innate appreciation and gratitude for nature, those around us and our ancestors was prominent in each poem. The fluidity of the blending of arts between Ms. Morgan and Ms. Rose is like watching a dance between the spoken word and music unlike anything found in song. Before reading ‘Snowy Owls, Egrets, & Unexpected Graces’, Ms. Morgan took a moment to offer a little background about her book in that it “follows the Wheel of the Year.” The Wheel of the Year or calendar is the annual cycle of the seasonal festivals, solstices and equinoxes of the year. Ms. Morgan also “invited all to remember what’s important to you, to notice how we experience the seasons as poets and writers and hidden writers. Take time to be in the season and write the season, for I think that the greatest gift of the shadow of death is the challenge to really live our lives fully.”
Our evening was laden with inspiration as our fabulous open mic readers had great works to share as well. Some humorous, some heartfelt but altogether outstanding! One poem inspired Ms. Zawodny to return to the mic and give a few extemporaneous remarks about “the tremendous importance of poetry, voice, literature, the artistic use of words for all of us” and that poetry is really a way of civic engagement.”
Please join us on November 27th at 7pm. Our featured guest will be Sam Roxas-Chua, reading from his books, Saying Your Name Three Times Underwater (“swirling and galactic, vividly sensual” – Tyehimba Jess) and Echolalia in Script (poems plus asemic writing, a visual art form which imitates script).
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 at the Barnes and Noble bookstores or online at barnesandnoble.com: