3 Favorite Poetry Moments of May

Sierra Nelson
June 1, 2010
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By the time you read this, it may be June in your part of your world, but here in Washington there’s still a little left in May. DSC01227

Here are three of this month’s moments of poetry wonder:

1) Seattle Arts and Lectures Writers-In-the-Schools Program just held its year-end celebration and student readings at the super-Koolhaas Downtown Public Library. The first night featured elementary and middle school readers, the second night high school. These kids’ bravery in expressing themselves and their willingness to share their work with a large auditorium of friends, family, and strangers was enough to make everyone cheer. And then so much wonderful writing!

A few moments that particularly stood out: the youngest reader, 1st grader Elvis Cavanaugh, and her brilliant synaesthetic poem “Lemons!”

Lemons smell bright pink
and like puffy soft kitties.
Lemons smell like
two spoons wacking together…

The lovely, goosebump intensity in Amethyst Gambler’s repeated address: “O thee wolf.” The stunning sensual details of Gemma O’Neil’s poem “Luna and Sol” —

[Luna] kissed me with her craterous, honeysuckle lips
And when I was craving a midnight snack
She fed me coconut milk with white lemon tarts, moon cakes, and angel food
Luna combed my hair with an ivory wide-toothed comb
Slicked with palm oil, colorants, and galaxy dust
She dressed me in a white silk nightgown
That smelled of Chai and maple…

The humorous thirst charm “A Rootbeer I Needed” by Jake Mueller. The beyond-her-years sass and knock-out delivery of “The Case of the Missing Locket” by Kaia Stoesz. A girl named Paper in a town named Elliot in the story by Annalise Rubida. And so much more!

(For those of you who missed it – a podcast of both nights’ readings will eventually be available on the library’s website.)

2) Jellyfish in the Elevator at the Henry. I first encountered them during National Poetry Month, checking out the “poetic interventions” by Wave Books at the Henry Art Gallery, reverberating anew in April 2010 from a previous “3 Days of Poetry” in August 2009. Highlights of what was available this April — the pamphlet “Emotional Museum Tour” for a self-guided new-perspective on the gallery’s spaces, with three emotional tracks from which to choose — and the ghostly recorded readings by Wave Books authors piped into the stairwell and in the chapel foyer of the Skyspace.

But back to the jellyfish (still on view now – go see!). We went looking for more poetry, and found it in the form of a video by Kiki Smith playing on a loop in the elevator (“Jewel,” 1997). They mostly drift, and then suddenly decide to go — lashes of light, gelatinous suns, strands of beating snow. We watched until the doors of the elevator closed on us, but not going anywhere because we hadn’t pushed any buttons. All of us on break, adrift between floors and worlds.

3) The Vis-? -Vis Society and Karen Finneyfrock performing at the Seattle Art Museum for SAM WORD. A few visual highlights of what occurred:

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(Photos by Chris Weber)

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