Friday, March 27, 2015
Coming home to the Northwest after a trip to Texas leading heritage tourism workshops, I was delighted to take a float plane from Lake Union to the San Juan Islands. Having grown up on the coast, it's always a thrill to come home and see the mountains and water that feel somehow part of not just the landscape, but what I call home and who I am. As we lifted off from the water and away from the city, this perspective of Gas Works Park came into view. Gas Works is the first park where I was finally able to get a kite to take flight. The park is named for the only coal gasification plant left in the U.S. It operated in the first half of the twentieth century, and was opened to the public as a park in 1975. Seattle landscape architect Richard Haag was awarded the American Society of Landscape Architects Presidents Award of Design Excellence for his design. I didn't know any of this the first time I went to the park. It was an oddity, the old plant that some still consider an eyesore, but fascinating to see, especially with the backdrop of downtown Seattle and the Space Needle. The park became special to me, though, because it became part of my personal history. A history that's insignificant to anyone else, but similar perhaps to memories thousands others have formed at that site.
In 2013, Gas Works was added to the National Register of Historic Places. For whatever reason, the designation was not granted for more than ten years after the park had been nominated. Does it make Gas Works any more special? Does it give the park some degree of significance or street cred in the eyes of historians and cultural heritage gurus? Maybe so. Or maybe it brings attention to a past technology, and therefore the past that technology belonged in and was linked to. Certainly, flying over the park triggered memories of a past I rarely think about but still hold dear.
Judith Kitchen wrote that she was interested in (and interested in writing about) her own life more than anything else. Whatever we decide is significant to us, connects ultimately to our own experience. That is, our experiences inform what we decide is important. Those decisions are subjective, personal, and unique. No doubt some people would still say the gasification plant should be dismantled. Others might advocate for that land--prime real estate in Seattle--to be used for other purposes. Maybe condos or office buildings to attract more people and businesses to the city. Personally, I think it should be used for flying kites. A place of lift-off. Where a child's hopes and efforts can soar. Where a middle-age woman can indulge in sentimental memories. Where rock once became energy (and, albeit, pollution). Where we can remind ourselves how far we've come, and to cherish the ineffable Home.
Sunday, March 22, 2015
Mark your calendars for a special Poetry Month kickoff event with Carolyne Wright and the premiere reading of the anthology Raising Lilly Ledbetter: Women Poets Occupy the Workspace (Lost Horse Press, 2015), edited by Wright along with fellow poets Eugenia Toledo, and M. L. Lyons. The anthology is in response to the 2009 Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act and brings together voices of women poets in the workspaces they occupy: from cotton rows to corner suites, trawlers to typing pools, nursing stations to space stations, factory floors to faculty offices. These voices bear witness to women’s workplace lives, and act to re-envision and refigure the world of work for women.
Poet Carolyn Forché dsecribes the book as a compilation of “the heavy-lifters, night-shifters, line and piece workers, writing with grace and often with humor: poets who punch clocks, woman the phones and decks, weave, weld and can, cotton-pick and cold call, thread-spin, typeset and teach. They sex-work, they ship-build, plaster and preach, butcher and drive the bus. This is anthology as page-turner, as fist in the air, as do-it-yourself manual against despair.”
The reading, part of the 2014-2015 Artsmith Salon Series, takes place at Darvill's Bookstore at 1 Main Street in Eastsound, Washington on Wednesday, April 1, 6:00 pm. The reading will be followed by a Q and A with the author, reception with hors d'oeuvres, and book-signing.
Tuesday, March 10, 2015
Monday, March 9, 2015
At Artsmith's Spring 2015 Writer Island, writer Ira Sukrungruang asked participants, "How many languages do you speak?" Japanese, Italian, French. Then he asked how many languages "as a writer." What character languages can you speak? Ira speaks Southside Chicagoan, for example. What about BC Canadian? Nor'easter? West Texan? What about languages that aren't defined solely by geography? Teenage gamer. LDS Missionary. Retired auto mechanic. "Make a list," he advised, "of the languages you speak." Write in those languages. Listen. Add more.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
On our daily, mid-January now, walks to North Beach, the trees lift long, bare fingers to the sky. All but one cherry blooming early. It brings to mind the artists and writers who gather the courage to send their works out into the world, sometimes a harsh and unwelcoming world. And yet, those works, like these flowers, give the rest of us hope. So thank you to those of you who take the risk and share your art. You can't know who will be inspired by the glimpses of life you share, but please know we are.
Once a part of Spain, once a part of Mexico, once a part of the Republic of Texas, and now a bilingual and multicultural part of the U.S., Laredo, Texas is a city rich in art, architecture, culinary delights, and remarkably friendly people. Not to mention it is an important spot for migratory birds and the birders who love to see them, especially the birds that don't venture any farther north.
Why mention all this, you ask? Because in December 2015, Artsmith takes its residency program on the road for a 3-day residency for culture & travel writers. Up to five writers (with room for two to bring a partner writer, photographer, or videographer who can share their room) will be selected. Writers and their partners are responsible for their travel expenses to get to Laredo. Once in Laredo, three nights' lodging at the historic La Posada Hotel and most meals will be provided, plus a chance to experience the best of Laredo culture with special, behind-the-scenes access.
We'll attend the CaminArte art walk and Streets of Laredo Artisan Bazaar. Other options, to be determined after the residency fellows are selected, include border cuisine cooking classes, birding and guided walks with a naturalist in the Rio Grande riparian zone, meetings with Immigration and Border Patrol, Teatro Tejano de la Calle street theater and history tour. Catch a glimpse of some of the possible sights and activities below.
The residency takes place the first weekend of December, 2015, with details to be posted to the Artsmith website soon. So get ready to submit your application this spring for a festive and exciting adventure in December!
Friday, January 9, 2015
Need help applying to Artist Residencies? Or pitching your book to an agent or publisher? Want to see examples of well-crafted artist statements and query letters? Need help drafting an intriguing description of your work? Sign up for The Art of the Pitch workshop with agent and publicist John Sibley Williams and Artsmith founding director Jill McCabe Johnson on February 7, 2-4 pm, at Daedalus Books in Portland, OR. $30 in advance secures your spot, or apply for one of two scholarships by Feb. 1. Learn more at http://orcasartsmith.org/workshops.html.
While you're there, check out info on the Spring 2015 Writer Island with Ira Sukrungruang and apply for a scholarship for that, too!