In Motion: Bellingham, Poetry, San Juan Islands, Ted Talks


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Poetry: September Bellingham

Down the hill my city sits
Waves nip at its hair
Freeway scratches the belly
Mountains hold down its hip
Low mist rolled in early,
refuses to leave this cove
Down into the clouds I walk,
floating up into a subdued world
Here exhales are marked,
Talk can be seen
Sun baths buildings
in a peach-warm glow
as it fights the floating moisture
that crowns my
September Bellingham
visibility still only four blocks.
The sun burns while seagulls
dance in the sky

Photo by Matthew Anderson/WWU
Bellingham in morning fog, September 2012


Monday, September 23, 2013

Chemical Warfare

Last Saturday, September 21st, was the International Day of Peace.  With that said, today's blog is about two women who hate each other so much, they pass gas whenever they are near each other.  Yes, this story is about farts.  Not just any kind of farts, but farts in the workplace.

This is a real story.  It really happened.  If you stay with it to the end, I promise there is a point, a good point, the kind of point we should all ponder.

A Washington State Ferry docked in Seattle

Seattle, Spring 2001

Walking off the ferry I started to chat with another commuter who walked the same route I did to the bus stop.  I learned that she worked downtown, was new to the country, working on a visa, and that she enjoyed Seattle and riding the ferry to work.  I will call her Jan.

On another day, one sleepy morning, while staring out the ferry window, a nice conversation was started between myself and a gentle-looking-soul of a woman.  We enjoyed each others company enough to continue the conversation while walking off the ferry, up the three blocks to Pioneer Square where we split off, each to our own workplace.  I will call her Mary.

One day while walking with Jan, I noticed Mary walking with others on the opposite side of the street.
"Jan, do you know Mary?"
"Do you know her?  I think she lives in Silverdale."
"Yes, I know Mary.  We work in the same office.  I hate her.  You should stay away from her."
"Wha... why?  Really?  She seems nice to me."
"That is because you do not have to work with her five days a week like I do.  I hate her so much, I fart whenever she comes by desk, so that she'll leave quickly."

A week later, Mary and I were walking to the bus.  Mary interrupted me to point at Jan, who was walking by herself into town.
"Shannon, see that lady there, in the light blue coat?  Stay away from that bitch.  Whatever you do, do not talk to her.  She's poison.  AND she stinks like shit.  Like she never showers!"
"Well, maybe she has a condition or..."
"NO.  I'm telling you she always stinks, and it's on purpose.  She is so nasty, I've decided to fart at her whenever she's near."
"Because she needs to know how stinky she is. How dare she come to work like that, stinking the place up!"

Pioneer Square, Seattle Washington
1st Ave and Yesler Way

Wow.  Somehow I had become Ferry Friends with two ladies who were at war with each other.  Neither of them knew that I liked the other, and so for a good month I listened to each of them tell me their side of an argument.  An argument started for an unknown reason, and the purpose of the gas attacks unclear.  Why leave a good paying job because of it's methane levels?  The only thing I knew for sure was that these two ladies hated each other SO bad, they were willing to go to disgusting lengths to insult each other!

I stopped riding the ferry in 2002.  As far as I know the ladies are still gassing it up.

...oh, and I lied.  This story has no point.  That's the point.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Event: Fairhaven Art Block Party

Come one, come all to the first annual 
Fairhaven Art Block Party!
Spontaneous street poetry provided by the 
Chuckanut Sandstone Writers Theater.
This festival is designed to spotlight the 
wonderful artistic community in the  
historic district of Fairhaven.
I'll be one of the street poets, with my book 
Madrona Grove in hand.

**See you there**

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Monday, September 9, 2013

Bong Ja Ahn's Paper Boat

This Labor Day Weekend I was up in Vancouver, Canada for a book launch "Poet and the Paper Boat" by Korean poet Bong Ja Ahn.  The book is the second in her English-Korean Poetry Anthology.  This was a beautiful event held at a community center, upstairs in a corner room.  Large windows and balcony doors were open wide and the last winds of August danced gently around the room.  My poet friends, Carla and Betty, and I were there along with 30-40 others to support Bong Ja.  The guest of honor wore a traditional Korean gown, and the table of refreshments were a unique sampling of delicacies from her homeland.

While there, a friend invited me to read a poem at the yearly Tagore Festival in Richmond.  What a wonderful opportunity!  The afternoon was full of inspiration, rich conversation, and an exchange of artistic expression that filled up my soul!  So wonderful to be a poet in the company of poets.

Here is Bong Ja's signature poem from her new book:

Paper Boat

I folded and unfolded
a white paper boat.

Who is the noble born high up there
passing through the perfumed April air
Why the robins are busy signing at the early hour
And silvery sunrays ripple everywhere.

It's you
It's me
One followed by the other
Arrived on this side of mortal shore,

Where the yearnings flutter as high as they are deep,
Where Karma is yet to be unwound from tangled spool,
Where Breath of life is like jade, precious and

Today again
My white paper boat
I fold, unfold and fold again.

Learn more about Bong Ja here:


Monday, September 2, 2013

Event: Tagore Festival

West Coast Tagore Festival 2013

Tagore, b.May 7, 1861- d.August 7 1941,  
Indian poet, short-story writer, song composer, novelist, playwright, essayist, and painter.  
Tagore was a Bengali polymath who reshaped his region's literature and music. Author of Gitanjali and its "profoundly sensitive, fresh and beautiful verse", he became the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1913. Tagore introduced new prose and verse forms and the use of colloquial language into Bengali literature, thereby freeing it from traditional models based on classical Sanskrit. He was highly influential in introducing the best of Indian culture to the West and vice versa, and he is generally regarded as the outstanding creative artist of modern South Asia