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Archive for August, 2012

Marita Isabel and Okanomodé featured at the Bellevue Arts Museum’s event, BAMignite: Funk Out!  The show was built around the museum’s exhibit of quilts, presumed to be made by Black women (more on that later).

Apropos of the theme, the first two poems explored the complexity and power of femininity.  Okanomodé opened with “Like Woman.” The poem’s thesis, “Man that I am, why wouldn’t I want to be like a woman?” rings through the poem, in his descriptions of all the roles of women, “footsoldiers, bearers of starfish, starfruit, keepers of the flame.”  Marita’s first poem, “Lady Dandelion,” stands slut-shaming on its head.  The dandelion “directs the wind with her own desire,” and makes the patches of dirt wait for her, before she becomes a “liberated slut.”

The second set of poems addressed the exhibit more explicitly.  Marita’s “Rorschach Test” addressed a particular quilt, and compared it to all the similar things she sees in the world.  Then, she talks about how the meaning has been stripped in the gathering of these quilts, with “I wonder if there are codes in the quilt only decodable by African Americans.”  Okanomodé’s “Herstory” was a gorgeous display of some of that lost meaning.  The quilts were “telling stories in tactile and textile,” like “an evening star to lead them north.”  He explains that the quilts are “worthy of our reverence not because they hang in galleries,” and rise above “dismissive phrases like ‘outsider art.'”  These two pieces helped to explain the context and the content of the work that the plaques mounted on the walls had not even attempted.

For the finale, Marita and Okanomodé composed a duet.  The echoes in their composition were exaclty right.  Each of them guided us through their creative lives, starting in middle school, up through their fears of performing as early adults: “I was scared of letting someone else’s speakers amplify my words.”  Then, the release of realizing how healing self expression can be: “the truth always becomes obvious when you write it down.”

All of this thought-provoking poetry was in the context of an exhibit with no artists’ names.  The collector, Corrine Riley, bought the quilts from estate sales and garage sales, but did not keep any information about the people who made these or sold them to her.  The quilts were arbitrarily named and dated by the white lady collector.  One quilt’s plaque literally described it as “primitive.”   Black art was stripped of Black artists: the people who created the work of this exhibit have had their voices bleached out of it.

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Minor Arcana Press, a new Seattle-based publisher, will put out Evan J. Peterson’s new collection Skin Job .

The book trailer is below, with Evan’s poem “Rebirth is Always Painful.”

Evan has such a gift of bringing the grotesque to life.  This video shows a lot of throwbacks to old school horror: the dripping blood, Evan’s deep, serious intonations, and even clips of old horror movies.  Even with the liberal sprinkling of camp, this video is scary, but it leaves me with questions, so I can’t look way.   I look forward to reading more from Evan in his upcoming book.

The book release party will be at 7 p.m. on on Friday, September 7 at Richard Hugo House.  Also performing will be local poets and favorites of mine, Okanomodé, Morris Stegosaurus, and Lydia Swartz.

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Photo by Rae Ludwig

I will double feature with Casey Tonnelly at Seattle’s queer poetry show, Spit!  Casey’s style and mine complement each other well.  I tend toward magical dark imagery, while Casey tends toward humor and story telling.   Seattle Spit has been a great community space since I moved to Seattle, and I’m excited about my second feature there.  An open mic follows our feature, so bring something to share or just come to listen.    See y’all there!  8:30 Thursday, August 9, The Wild Rose, 21+, free.

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