PNW poets crawl toward creativity

Emily+Gwinn+presents+a+poem+at+Gard+Vintners.
Emily Gwinn presents a poem at Gard Vintners.

Emily Gwinn presents a poem at Gard Vintners.

Xander Fu

Xander Fu

Emily Gwinn presents a poem at Gard Vintners.

Bryce Jungquist, Staff Reporter

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On Saturday April 7, groups of people sat at tables and listened to several poets perform at Gard Vintners. The atmosphere was quiet. Members of the audience looked down while listening to the words. Sounds of applause filled the small space after each poet finished their reading.

Those who attended this year’s Inland Poetry Prowl were able to hear work of different performing poets, attend open mics, craft talks and more. The event has been going on for three years and took place last weekend, April 6 to 8.  

All the attractions were at different venues around Ellensburg. It began with a First Friday Art Walk and ended on Sunday with the viewing of a documentary. This year’s poetry prowl was titled “Langston’s Poetry Blues” after deceased poet Langston Hughes.  

Carolyne Wright was one of the visiting poets. She lives in Seattle and teaches part-time at a community literary center called Richard Hugo House. Wright said it’s important for CWU students to get a feeling for how being a writer can be exciting, joyful and diverse.

Wright believes that in order for upcoming poets to establish their voice, writing and expressing one’s innermost thoughts through performing at open mics is essential. It’s important for students to be “interested in the world around you and life around you,” Wright said.

One of things Wright did at the event was give a craft talk about publishing to a small audience.

Joanna Thomas, organizer and founder for the Inland Poetry Prowl said the event got started for her when she attended a LiTFUSE event in Tieton, Washington.

LiTFUSE, which was founded in 2007, is an annual weekend-long poetry workshop.

“I thought ‘my goodness, we should have something like this in Ellensburg,’” Thomas said. “Because, look at all the other things we have.”

Ellensburg has many other unique and eccentric events such as a jazz festival, dachshunds on parade, BrewFest, and a film festival. Thomas said there wasn’t a literary event here that was the size of LiTFUSE.

Thomas said this year, they’ve had to get larger venues. The poets come and perform for free.

Some of the reasons the poets have for performing for free are the same motives for college students to attend. Thomas said the poets come because of possible connections, comradery and ability to add this to their reading list.

“It’s how [the poets] build their reputations and their names,” Thomas said.    

Daniel Edward Moore is another poet who performed during the prowl. He resides in Oak Harbor and works as an assistant director in the sleep medicine department at Whidbey Island Hospital.

Moore said he wants poets at this event to find inspiration.

He said what’s most important in him being older and away from a college town is being able to give younger poets getting a chance to witness older ones, because poets who are older have really earned their rights to the artform. Experienced artists have a diverse history which signifies what can be achieved.

Moore said he took a few of his works to perform upon receiving the topics of sex and death. He said people who came to listen to him would be hearing erotica. Moore said he does a lot of erotica that’s biblical and that’s what he was known for in the early 2000s.

Thomas said she believes poetry is important all over. She said people in the Northwest are privileged because it’s an inspiring environment. Thomas said many of us are without light during our grey winters and the Pacific Northwest can range from desert to rainforest.

“People are inspired by the landscape, they’re inspired by each other, but poetry is alive and well,” Thomas said.

 

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PNW poets crawl toward creativity