Such a joy to feature again at Zippy’s. Great poetry-loving crowd. Duane is a wonderful host. Zippy’s offers yummy sandwiches. It’s a win, win, win. I’ll be reading for the first time from my new book, “Fallen” with FRESHLY PRINTED copies on hand to take home.
I’m carpooling down to Everett. Message me if you’d like to join us, there are two spaces left.
2015 seems like an amplified version of 2014 don’t you think? Except this year we had the added entertainment of an American Presidential race, promotional “stuff” for another Star Wars movie a la Disney, Kim’s booty and the Pope’s world tour to distract us. Finally, sick of the violence and injustice, MORE citizens took to the streets! From Paris, to South Carolina’s Ravenel Bridge to Bellingham Washington, citizens unified in mass against war, terrorism, police violence, and the environment. Round and round we go.
With only a few days left in 2015 it seems the right time to write a Christmas Letter. My mom use to mail an end-of-the-year letter to family and friends, near and far, sharing the highlights of our family’s year. It is in that spirit that I write to you today.
Perhaps you treat these letters like fruit cake. If that’s the case then I leave you here, in the third paragraph, simply wishing you & yours a happy, warm holiday and prosperous new year. Also, it’s important for me to add a BIG Thank You! Thank you for visiting my page and buying SPL poetry.
However, if curiosity is creeping around your ankles, making it’s way up the leg, securing you in your seat for, say, the next five minutes, then I welcome your company. Nostalgia is a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past, typically for a period or place with happy personal associations. You are a “happy personal association” and I welcome your presence.
My Christmas Card movie features the SPL staff at it again. This year we are working as a team to beautify our surroundings, sharing the joy with our neighbors. Living on the 48th parallel our winters are long and dark. The sun sets about 4:30 pm and stays down until 8 in the morning. A string of lights is helpful, happy and welcomed.
Blessings to you and yours & Happy 2016!
~Shannon, Brad, Vince, Robert & Chris.
(Click our photo to watch our home movie)
My Poetic 2015
The year started off in PEACE. On New Years Eve World Peace Poets, Betty, Carla, C.J., Carol and I met at the “Peace Pole” in Fairhaven with another group for peace. We lit candles at dusk, tossed paper crane prayers into the sea, then joined hands in a moment of prayer for the new year.
Later in February all FIVE of the “Peace Sisters” published “Peace Poems, Vol I”. We included an award ceremony with the book launch. There are many people in Bellingham and Vancouver, B.C. who stand for peace and understanding. We wanted to recognize them as “Ambassadors of Peace”
World Peace Poets encourage harmony through words for international writers and promote public readings.
In March my poem “Voice on the Trail” was accepted for a wall display in the Bellingham Repertory Dance Company’s “A Night at the Gallery”
In April I joined in the celebration of “The Bard of Bellingham’s” book launch! Beloved +80 yr old Jim Milstead, a well known poet, (finally) released the much anticipated book of poetry “Collage”. Congrats Jim!
For a second time, it was my (well-protected) pleasure to feature at Western Washington University’s Erotic Poetry Night. Such a fun time!
In May I read at Erica Reed’s Poetry Gallery, representing Village Books Poetry Group. This new, quarterly event allows each of the over 22 poetry groups in the Bellingham area to share for 3-5 minutes. It’s a night of cross-pollination, networking and good words. Erica plans on continuing this event into 2016. Look for it in the community calendars!
June: after an exhilarating experience reading on a street corner for the Bike/Poetry Seattle group Mob Rolls in May, I was hit by lightning! Putting in a call with the Downtown Bellingham Partnership, “Poets’ Corner” was born! An exciting new living art display for Art Walk participants. Poets take over a corner, read to the passing masses! Poets’ Corner ran from June-November, co-hosted by Lucas Nydam. It is a fun experiment. Due to the winter weather it is currently on hiatus until April 1, 2016.
Featuring for Everett Poetry Night and Poetry Night in Bellingham within seven days of each other was stimulating to say the least. The audience was warm and accepting, and my books sold! This was my first year featuring for open mics.The change of perspective, audience member to performer, was refreshing. Am I ready for more? I hope so. It’s a great responsibility to feature. The high is amazing and I hope to do it more in 2016.
For July I found myself reaching into new physical and emotional territory. The Lament for the Dead was an 2015 on-line movement about personalizing the victims of police violence. My poem “Wallow in Ashes” was accepted. Also, I returned to my old stomping grounds South King County as a feature poet for Auburn Days. One of my goals for 2015 was to feature outside of Bellingham. I am thankful to Everett and Auburn for letting a circuit-newbie take the stage.
July marked the end of my time at KMRE 102.3 SPARK Radio. I started volunteering with SPARK back in 2011 producing the classic blues show “The Playhouse” that features the blues from 1920-70’s, and occasionally stepping in as an afternoon LIVE DJ, running the “Board of Doom”. Later, in 2013, Jonathan Winter asked me to help him with a show he envisioned where folks that love music share their music story. The New Americana Hour was born! In addition to those two programs I also recorded local poets for an award winning feature called “Poetic Moments”. You can learn more about my radio time at KMRE here. What a wonderful family the Museum of Electrical Invention is! It was hard to say good-bye, but I am thankful to of worked beside some of the northwest’s most influential, giving, and creative characters.
September the Peace Sisters were recognized for their publication and “Read-In” events by Writers International Network . The ceremony was held in Richmond, British Columbia along with recipient poets and artists from India, Mexico, Korea, Bangladesh, and the Philippines. I am moved and very thankful to WIN for this award.
October was an amazing month. October 2015 marked my fifth year in Bellingham. I am touched by the kindness this community has shown me. I wanted to give back and do it the “Bellingham Way” = do it for charity.
I wanted to coordinate a musical album featuring artists from Bellingham and Seattle, but would any band want to be on it? And WHAT charity would be the benefactor? Then, these two questions were answered within a week of each other. Many band members I contacted grew up with music in the home and/or were introduced to music through a school program. These programs cost money. Blue Skies for Children helps low-income, homeless and foster children in Whatcom County with music lessons and musical instrument rentals. The 17 bands that donated songs to this album are “paying it forward” for future musicians. In October “Blue Skies for Bellingham” was released in time for the Blue Skies for Children charity auction.
“This album together with the original cover art by esteemed painter/musician Meghan Yates, are submissions for Blue Skies for Children’s Annual Dinner and Charity Auction. All seventeen bands are from Bellingham or frequent the Bellingham area. All proceeds go to the Our Little Wishes Instrument Loaner and Enrichment Programs. These programs provide local homeless, low-income and foster children ages six to eighteen for music lessons and musical instrument rental to help increase hope and raise self-esteem.”
Also in October World Peace Poets hosted our 3 rd annual “Read-In”. November and December I read at a new hookah bar Cafe Bouzingo, and the first “Noisy Waters” reading at the Mt. Baker Encore Room, and returned to Auburn to feature at the Auburn Arts Association Poetry Open Mic.
Fall 2016 I’ll release my third poetry book “Fallen” and I hope to get more feature gigs on the books. I also have a few secret projects I’m working on–one includes a phone booth, another a hair artist, painter and fifty sets of crunches a day, and a NEW radio program for KVWV, Bellingham. My body, mind and spirit in top form—yep. That’s what I’m looking forward to in ’16.
Thanks for walking with me through this year. (dang that took a long time!) Have I mentioned how THANKFUL I am?
What an honor to be reading with Joann. I saw her read at the Auburn Days Festival this last summer. She was the star of the show! Her insight and lyrical observations of the shared essence of human life and the universe communicated across the theater and into the hearts of the audience. The head-nods and applause gave no doubt. This lady understands ethos and she is not afraid to use it. This venue seats 80, her words will reach each corner.
Originally from Chicago she is making her rounds in the Northwest, recently featured at Duane Kirby Jensen’s Everett Poetry Night. Please come out and join us. Experience poetry!
Duane is the recipient of the 2013 Mayor’s Arts Award for Artistic Excellence & Contribution to Everett’s Cultural Vitality, a publisher at Three Frogs Swimming Publications, the host of Everett Poetry Nite, that meets every Thursday night, a painter and a poet. His sixth poetry book “Watch Me” was recently released. I had a chance to talk with him about his life as an artist.
There is an old Latin proverb, “Still waters run deep.” I often think of this saying when I encounter Duane. His naturally peaceful nature houses a deep intellect and stirring passion. Quite simply, he is absolutely stimulating to converse with and I am all the better knowing him.
About his art, his web site, The Art of Duane Kirby Jensen, says it best, “His work evokes those places which linger beneath the surface underscoring the narrative of being, the fragility of identity, the gravity of emotion and the ease in which it can be lost.”
Here is my interview with Duane.
Congratulations on your book of poetry “Watch Me.” Tell me more about it.
This is my first concept book of poetry. It is the story of him and her and their quirky love story. It is laid out to be read from beginning to end so one can experience the full arch of their story.
I have steered away from giving them an identity as defined by names and detailed background. Instead we watch their emotions ebb and flow and explore the fragility their internal identities can be. That identity.
These poems are also playful and extremely sexy. When I have read them at venues around Western Washington, I have had women ooh and awe through the reading, then preposition me after the reading.
Your poems are mysterious, nicely knitted works. What does your writing process look like?
The short answer is, each poem is written within the process it needs.
That being said, let me share with you a more detailed answer I gave on January 2, 21014, when I featured at the Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserve:
I do not have a set process. A poem can be launched by a word, a phrase, a comment I make on Facebook. My mind is always working on things – both in terms of paintings and poems, until they have gestated long enough and are ready to burst forth.
I am always creating. Painting and poetry feed off each other. There is always something ripening, ready to be plucked and made real.
Most of my poems are written with pen and paper before they get inputted into the computer. The computer itself has eased the burden of my dyslexia. If I was still stuck using my old Smith-Corona typewriter, my poetic output – at least publicly, would be at a fraction of itself.
The strength of my writing is due to two things: – I have a wide ranging mind that looks at things from angles that are askew of the norm and editing. Editing is the moment I refine and tighten my vision. I love editing. It has allowed me to present my work in the form I want it to be seen and heard. It is also the moment when many poems are born.
Often I have had great lines or words that carry an impact, but within the poem of their birth, they are no better then weeds clogging up the flow of the poem.
So I transplant them into my folder of “Poetic Possibilities”. In time most of these lines develop into a new poem or poems.
Sometimes a poem will have many possible narrative lines. To follow each of them would create a mess. So three or four poems can emerge from the same seed.
Editing is where I can elevate my work. Push words and ideas until they sound unique and evocative. Where I can rip myself bare and let the reader see how the writer bleeds.
I’ve been to your home/art studio, Duane. Your walls are covered in an impressive art collection, original work by artists you encounter on your travels, and your own pieces. Where does your muse live?
The muse exists in the act of living. It is the way I see and interpret the world around me. I have so many ideas in my head, a back load of ideas to birth, it would take a dozen artist/writers a dozen lifetimes to achieve them all.
When I have talked about this with friends, they have asked, “Don’t you feel overwhelmed.” My answer has always been “No.” Explaining that as long as I just keep creating and only focusing on a handful of projects at a time, I can just keep creating. It is this process that keeps me excited. If I ever truly stepped back and surveyed that vastness – it might swallow me whole, leaving me a babbling blob of madness hiding in a brightly-lit corner.
If you don’t write every day, do you feel guilty?
Guilty? Never. The art of creation takes many forms. For me it is split between painting and writing. Some days the most important thing to do is nothing. Doing nothing, or more precisely producing nothing might be the most valuable thing a creative person can learn.
The Hibulb Cultural Center & Natural History Preserve asked me a similar question, and that answer bookends the above answer nicely.
The most honest thing I could say here is that I create twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. From that, I must carve out time to work, eat and do the mundane things of life. But even as I do these things my mind is painting and repainting images with a variety of colors and textures – or writing and rewriting lines – each waiting their time to be birthed onto canvas or paper. And yes, sometimes there are internal arguments about who gets birthed first. Once I am at my desk, images flow out effortlessly into a pattern that I have already completed through much internal editing.
Many people have asked me, “Aren’t you afraid of forgetting your ideas?” Not really. The majority of my work is narrative based; meaning I am a story teller. As long as I can create one good narrative within my memory, when I sit down to write, or paint, the rest of the lines or images, will just fall into place.
If you see me looking distracted at times, it is because I am wrapped within my creative process. Envisioning images and words that will soon find a tangible life on canvas or paper.
Just as your book inspires authors, what authors have inspired you?
It is not just writers that inspire my writing, but painters: Matilde Alonso, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Lusican Freud, Edward Hopper, William Kentridge, Edvard Munch, Yves Tanguy and Dorothea Tanning. I try to capture what they do visually, and trap them inside poetry. I am always striving to create a narrative.
The writers include:
Raymond Carver, Hemingway and Sam Shepard grounds me. Rereading them keeps my lines clean.
Italio Calvino, Neil Gaiman, Haruki Murakami and Lucius Shepards spur the imagination through their manipulation of language and their ability to see what others are unable to see or comprehend.
Tim O’Brien is all about truth mixed with the mysticism, something that is only possible when a person has seen too much.
Pete Fromm: For the way he handles the short story form.
What poets do you continually go back to?
Yehuda Amichai (when translated by Chana Block and Stephen Mitchell): What he can do with words and with brevity is amazing. His words drip with emotion.
Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz: I love the way she incorporates humor into her work, even when her words turn dark and she shows us how she bleeds.
Charles Bukowski: Since I begun reading Keats, Shelley and Byron in the 4th grade, my writing took on a flower flavor. Once and a while I still drift off into the old language. Bukowski reminds me to write in a modern tongue and that tongue has no limitations.
Martin Espada: The newest poet to my list, I have devoured his words over the past two years. His words ignite my rebellious spirit. His words feel like home.
Sandra Cisneros: Like Rodriques and Espada she writes from where she comes from, and the difficulty of breaking loose from the gender based expeditions she chaffs at.
Linda Pastan: An amazing poet. Her poems transport me to the moments being revealed.
Luis J. Rodriques: I love how he narrates his life and the environment he grew up in.
Jane Shore: She writes beautifully. She explores family and those small moments that carry unsuspecting eight.
Do you have a writing group or community of writers you share your work with?
Not really. For myself, I find writers group stifling and unproductive. I do have an editing group I am apart of, but the heaviest and most brutal edits are at my own hands.
What is your background? Where are you from?
I am a painter and a poet. I was initially inspired to paint as a child while watching my grandmother and grandaunt paint scenes of their Stanwood, WA community. I also come from a long line of painters, photographers, carvers, inventors and storytellers. I split my time between living in the city and working on my grandparents farm. My affinity for the land, as a means of growing food, and the land as a thing of beauty, seeps into my words and my art. As does the hustle and bustle of city life. The mix of constant motion and sound with that of patience and forethought. It makes me a man of two worlds and a resident of none.
What are you up to when you’re not writing?
When I am not writing, I am painting. Or I am deep in some form of creative enterprise. I read at poetry events throughout the northwest. I also have art expeditions throughout the region. I feel everything I do is interconnected.
How can people contact you and get a copy of your book?