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Cover Art Reveal: Green River Valley by Robert Lashley

We can’t keep this incredible cover art under wraps any longer! We’re excited to reveal that the cover for Robert Lashley’s forthcoming poetry collection, Green River Valley, will feature stunning photography by Jody Poorwill! Take a look at Jody’s photograph below, titled “August 19, 2018 • Tacoma, Washington”!

Some of the things we love about Poorwill’s photography is their attention to subtle variations of color, composition, and stark contrasts between manmade objects and nature. This photograph features all three of those components, as well as relays a sense of dissatisfaction with the “progress” of industrialization. That same dissatisfaction is also found in Lashley’s poetry. Still, both Lashley’s and Poorwill’s work also capture the beauty that continues to pervade our landscapes and lives, regardless of “progress,” gentrification, or intrusion.

To showcase the parallels in their work, we decided to let readers peek at one of the poems within Lashley’s Green River Valley, titled “Value Village Love Poem.” Enjoy!

“Value Village Love Poem” by Robert Lashley

Old jackets don’t fit, love, but did they ever?
Insignias and hats fade in the cycles
of discount trend racks.
Jerseys and spanks contract arbitrarily,
and scarfs hollow in the klieg lights
without the heads that gave them meaning.
Age and price may dictate our shape
but wherever you are is the boulevard.

Let me adorn you a crown of price-check rosaries.
Let my love be the alms that never signal
for without you, hoop earrings are metal,
extensions just threads away from their orbit,
away from their center and star.

Let them price to infinity
our posters and memories.
Let them splice the hood
to the meridians of invisibility.
In my arms, you are never gone.

My dear around-the-way girl,
dance with me by sale colors.
Time may erase all style to memory
but the intercom is playing our song.


To pre-order Green River Valley by Robert Lashley, click here.

To learn more about Jody Poorwill and peruse their art, click here.

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Moss Covered Claws Reading

On November 19th, we hosted an informal reading to celebrate the Moss Covered Claws Kickstarter campaign. Along with author Jonah Barrett, we were joined by Daniel Wolfert, Cecilia Frank, Logan Fenner, and Alissa Tu to share not only speculative fiction, but creative nonfiction and musical theater, as well! Thank you to everyone who attended. Watch the event below!


Moss Covered Claws Fundraiser Reading, Nov 19th, 2020

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

JONAH BARRETT is a nonbinary filmmaker, writer, and multimedia artist. They usually find themself in old haunted buildings or overgrown swamps.Cecilia Frank lives in Olympia with her fiance and cat. She enjoys writing magical realism when she’s not procrastinating on her grad school homework.

ALISSA TU is a Vietnamese writer, dancer, and (maybe) princess. She’s usually watching Sailor Moon or perfecting her pour overs whenever she’s not drowning herself in grad school work.

LOGAN FENNER is a queer fantasy writer living in the pacific northwest. In his free time, he drinks tea, acquires tattoos, plays with threaded needles, and keeps his library books for too long.

DANIEL WOLFERT is a musical theater songwriter and the owner and teacher of Horizon Musical Studio. His current major project is a children’s sci fi and science education musical called JENNA IN THE CITY OF JOULES, which he hopes to bring to a theater in the South Sound next year. Alongside writing musical theater and teaching music, Daniel is an avid reader and persistent, if unpredictable, baker and cook.

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Episode 14: Shin Yu Pai

Prickly Pear Podcast Episode 14: Shin Yu Pai

We lucked out earlier this fall when we snagged a podcast interview with the multi-talented Seattle artist Shin Yu Pai! We hopped onto Zoom late one evening in September to chat with Shin Yu about poetry, motherhood, the artistic process, and publishing and activism during pandemic times. We also chatted about Shin Yu’s newly released, hybrid book of poetry and art, Ensō, which was published by Entre Rios Books earlier this year. This episode of The Prickly Pear Podcast is the delightful result of that conversation. Enjoy!

SUPPORT Shin Yu Pai and her art by donating to her directly on Venmo @ShinYu-Pai.

BONUS: Shin Yu Pai performs two poems in this podcast episode. She reads “The Same Cloth” at 41:50, and “Chibi” at 48:47. We encourage you to listen to both, as well as the conversation surrounding them.

About Shin Yu Pai

Shin Yu Pai is the author of several books including Ensō (Entre Rios Books, 2020), Aux Arcs (La Alameda, 2013), Adamantine (White Pine, 2010), Sightings (1913 Press, 2007)and Equivalence (La Alameda, 2003). From 2015 to 2017, she served as the fourth Poet Laureate of The City of Redmond, Washington. Her personal essays have appeared in CityArtsTricycleSeattle’s Child, and YES! Magazine. She’s been a Stranger Genius Award nominee in Literature and lives and works in Bitter Lake, Seattle. For more info, visit www.shinyupai.com.


Podcast Notes

Shin Yu Pai’s Newest Book, Ensō

Find a copy of Ensō (Entre Rios Books, 2020) here, as well as engage with multimedia content – including spoken poems – by the author! Here’s what Entre Rios Books has to say about the book:

It is fitting that we’d present a hybrid book and digital experience for Shin Yu Pai, a poet known for her wide-ranging collaborations and creative practice engaged as much in physical space as a moment on the page. With its blend of personal essays reflecting on the development of her poetics, Ensō places new work next to old, to create not only a mid-career retrospective but a guidebook for poets interested in moving their practice off the page and into the community.

From her early work in place-based and ekphrastic poetry and her explorations of bookmaking to her current experimentation with installation and projection, this book highlights the creative process of her poetry. The reader learns more about Ms. Pai’s influences— the identities that resonate for her— and her thoughts on cultural hybridity, exchange, and appropriation. She speaks deeply about how motherhood transformed her views of what is possible in poetry, reconnecting to her immigrant mother’s creative legacy, and how that pushed her ideas to better inhabit the world around us. She gives moving examples of how personal and systematic racism and misogyny have shaped her practice while inviting the reader into a deeper conversation about how a poet writes with and about their community.

– Entre Rios Books

Artists to Know

Toward the end of the podcast, Shin Yu mentions a few artists she respects and wants listeners to know about. In no particular order, they are:

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BCP Fall Reading

For those who couldn’t make it to our Fall Reading, never fear: we recorded the full event! You can now enjoy it at your convenience! Our reading lineup was made up of authors whose non-fiction writing graced our pages (and screens) earlier this summer. The lineup included Yousef Allouzi, Gina Hietpas, Tamiko Nimura, and Samuel Snoek-Brown. Grab a glass of wine, sit your butt down in a soft chair, and hit play, friends!


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

YOUSEF ALLOUZI is an author and data analyst currently living in the Pacific Northwest. He holds a BS in Economics and a Master of Public Policy from Oregon State University. He’s also the author of The Bedouin, a memoir essay and chapbook published in July, 2020 (Blue Cactus Press).

GINA HIETPAS is a self–taught poet, born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Nowadays, she lives outside Sequim, Washington, on a small farm with her husband, a few cows and a passel of chickens. She’s the author of Terrain, a poetry collection delving into allyship, healing, nature and care, published in September, 2020 (Blue Cactus Press).

TAMIKO NIMURA is a third-generation Japanese American and second-generation Filipina American. She’s a freelance writer, essayist, community journalist, and public historian. She just published her first book, Rosa Franklin: A Life in Health CarePublic Service, and Social Justice, in 2019 (Washington State Oral History Program).

SAMUEL SNOEK-BROWN teaches and writes in the Pacific Northwest. He’s the author the Civil War novel Hagridden, the short story collection There Is No Other Way to Worship Them, and flash-fiction chapbooks Box Cutters and Where There Is Ruin. He also works as a production editor for Jersey Devil Press, and he lives online at snoekbrown.com.

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NEW Call for Submissions

Hello, readers and writers! We wanted to share some BIG news! Blue Cactus Press is now accepting submissions from Women of Color (gender non-conforming and women identifying individuals of Color included) for an anthology of non-fiction creative writing highlighting and uplifting the voices of Women of Color (WoC) in the greater Tacoma area.

The anthology will be published in Winter 2021 and will be created with support from the Tacoma Women of Color Collective (TWCC), an organization working to cultivate spaces for professional WoC to nurture community, collaborate, and share professional, educational and life resources. All contributors whose work is accepted for publication will receive a $50 stipend and a copy of the anthology upon publication.

To Qualify for Submissions, Interested Writers Must:

  1. Identify as a WoC, to include gender non-conforming and women-identifying individuals of Color
  2. Produce creative works in and/or reside in the greater Tacoma area

Submission Guidelines:

Submissions should be non-fiction, to include (but not limited to) essays, poetry, or content addressing social/cultural issues faced in our community and/or lived experiences. Works that demonstrate a potential to inspire community dialogue and/or shed light on lived experiences often ignored by mainstream culture and media are highly encouraged. 

  • Submissions should be sent in a single document (.pdf, .docx or .doc format) in 12 point, times new roman font
  • Poetry Submissions may include up to 3 poems, but must be 10 pages or less. 
  • Essays and narrative work must be 10 pages or less.
  • Please include a short bio and contact information (full name and email address) along with your submission. 

Submissions should be emailed to BlueCactusPress@gmail.com with the phrase “WoC Anthology Submission” in the email subject line. 


*This call for submissions will remain open until December 20, 2020. Writers whose work is accepted for publication will be notified in January 2021. 

**Simultaneous submissions are permitted, so long as you let us know where your work is already being considered. Please include this information in the body of your email. 

 *** By submitting your manuscript to Blue Cactus Press, you are guaranteeing its content is your own, original work and is not plagiarized, borrowed or reproduced from other sources. 

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Gift Cards Are a Go!

Hello readers and writers! We’ve been making small (but fun) changes to the website this month and are now able to offer digital gift cards! Seems like small potato stuff, we know, but for us it’s a big leap forward in creating a more full experience for our patrons. So, we thought we’d tell you about it! You can now purchase a digital gift card (with a value of anywhere from $10-$100) and have it delivered right to the recipient’s inbox for online use, at their convenience!

Purchase a gift card here for friends and family who can’t get enough reading material and/or have *very particular* reading tastes. Enjoy!

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“Community Partnerships” Launch

We thought we’d take a few minutes to bring you up to speed, dear readers, about who and what we’ve been up to all year! As you already know, we’ve been working on crafting books all year (duh), but not just our own! We’ve also been working with self-published authors to help them publish and market their own books, on their own terms, for several years.

We provide editorial, design, and project management services to authors whose work aligns with our values and goals as a publisher, which are to craft books that inspire dialogue about the undercurrents of humanity, to build local economy, and to uplift and honor voices and stories from underrepresented groups in our communities.

And because we’re hustling, trying to make our way in the publishing industry as a BIPOC and Queer-owned (and centered) business, we are excited to share a new development: we’re now working with several authors whose books we’ve helped shape to sell their books right here at bluecactuspress.com and at local markets! We encourage you to check out these books on our Community Partnerships page. Two authors we’re featuring now are Lawrence Garrett, author of The Equity Starter Kit, and Philip “Sharp Skills” Jacobs, author of You Are the Solution.

We are proud to have worked with these authors – both of whom are community leaders and small-business powerhouses – on their books, and to partner with them in making their books more widely accessible to audiences. If you feel called to the work, please consider purchasing a copy of their books. Doing so supports their presence and impact in our community, and that of Blue Cactus Press in the process.

About Our Community Partners

Lawrence Garrett is considered a modern-day cultural savant. Known by many for his knack of decoding cultural behaviors that either support or undermine values and performance, Lawrence has grown a reputation for getting to the heart of the matter by identifying specific behaviors that are directly impacting business outcomes. Over the last 15 years,  Lawrence was able to hone these skills through his current consulting practice, Eight-Twenty-Eight, LLC., focusing on Leadership and Inclusion in the greater Pierce County area, his prior role as Executive Director of Advancing Leadership, as well as his numerous partnerships and consultative work with various non-profits within the community.

Philip “Sharp Skills” Jacobs is a hip-hop artist, author, business consultant, and speaker. He is the author of Accuracy: A Guide to Living Skillfully and Successfully in Today’s Crazy Times (2014), and his music has been featured in television shows including Sons of Anarchy, America’s Next Top Model, The Mindy Project, Castle, Bones, Nakita, Signed and more.  Philip earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Seattle Pacific University and he was the recipient of the institution’s prestigious Medallion Award in 2019. He is passionate about equipping creative leaders to realize their full potential and leave a positive impact on the world. He lives in University Place, Washington, with his wife, Menzelle, and two sons. Find him online at The Sharp Skills.


Make sure to check back at our Community Partnerships page periodically to see who we’re adding to our roster of engaged, impactful community members and books!

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Episode 13: Poetry as Activism

Prickly Pear Podcast Episode 13: Poetry as Activism

Sure, the media hype surrounding national and local protests for social justice has died down, but the issues are still present, the protests continue, and our conversations about our roles as artists and community members in this collective struggle continue to deepen. As part two of a collaboration with Write253, a youth literary arts non-profit encouraging young people in Tacoma and Pierce County to express themselves through writing, performance, and publication, we dived into a conversation about poetry as activism.

In this episode, guest host and Write253 executive director Michael Haeflinger sat down with three hard-hitting youth poets to discuss the crossroads of poetry and activism, especially as they relate to artistry, action, and community. The episode features guest poets Emerson Pimentel, PJ Sorem, and Tashawn Deville.

Each of these poets has been a part of Write253’s annual teen, team poetry slam, Louder Than A Bomb Tacoma (LTAB-Tacoma), and they sometimes perform for audiences in the greater Tacoma area. We’ve included recordings of their LTAB-Tacoma performances below , but for now, press play and listen in, friends. You won’t regret it.


About the Guests

Emerson Pimentel / Empcxt

Emerson Pimentel, also known as Empcxt , is a performing artist in Tacoma whose work can be found on most music streaming services, including Spotify. A video of one of his past poetic performances in Louder Than A Bomb – Tacoma, is also featured below. The video is from Write253’s Youtube Channel.


PJ Sorem

PJ Sorem is a poet and artist in the Tacoma area. Check out PJ’s poetic works (which they sometimes post) on Instagram @peej.ss. Below is a video of them performing at the 2019 LTAB-Tacoma poetry festival.


Tashawn Deville

Tashawn Deville is a 20 year old poet, poetry slam coach and Tacoma Community College alumni living and working in Tacoma. She’s been writing poetry since high school, and is influenced by J. Cole, Langston Hughes, Malcolm X, James Baldwin and Tupac Shakur.  Watch the video of her performing poetry at LTAB-Tacoma below. You can also hear more of Tashawn’s poetry in The Prickly Pear Podcast Episode 11: Tashawn Deville.


Michael Haeflinger

Originally from the Midwest, Michael Haeflinger is the author of the poetry collection, Low Static Rage (Blue Cactus Press, 2019), and two chapbooks, Love Poem for the Everyday (2011) and The Days Before (2014), both from Dog On A Chain Press. In 2016, he released Let’s Don’t Be Crazy, a spoken word and music album. He is the recipient of the Rutgers-Camden Award for Community Engagement (2013), The Amocat Award for Community Engagement (2017), and a Tacoma Arts Initiative Program Award (2015). He is the Executive Director for Write253, a literary arts organization in Tacoma, WA.


*This episode is part two of a collaboration with Write253. Part one ,The Prickly Pear Podcast, Episode 12: Poetry as a Tool for Self-Healing, came out earlier this month. It features guest poets Gloria Muhammad and Celia Nimura-Parmenter. Be sure to follow Write253 on social media to find out what they’ve been up to this summer and have in the works this fall!

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Watch the Book Launch: Terrain by Gina Hietpas

Did you miss the official launch of Gina Hietpas’ debut poetry book, Terrain,on September 10th? Don’t worry if you did, we recorded the event so those who didn’t get a chance to join us could tune-in later! Watch the video below to hear Gina read from Terrain, and to hear a short Q&A with the author afterward. Enjoy!

Book Launch Event for Gina Hietpas’ Terrain, September 10, 2020

About Gina Hietpas

Gina Hietpas is a self–taught poet, born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Nowadays, she lives outside Sequim, Washington, on a small farm with her husband, a few cows and a passel of chickens. Her land is a habitat for elk, deer, coyotes and an occasional bear. It is, for the most part, a peaceful coexistence. Several seasons as a backcountry ranger for Olympic National Park shaped her deep connection to wilderness. She has worked professionally as the director of a non-profit and a middle school teacher. Now that she has retired, she focuses her efforts on writing. She has studied with Kelli Russell Agodon, Alice Derry, Holly Hughes, Susan Rich and Kim Stafford. Hietpas’ work has appeared in Minerva Rising, Tidepools, Spindrift and New Plains Review.

About the Reading

INTRODUCTION: Gina was introduced by Tim McNulty, a poet, essayist, and natural history writer. He is the author of three poetry collections: Ascendance, published by Pleasure Boat Studio, In Blue Mountain Dusk, and Pawtracks, and ten poetry chapbooks, including Cloud Studies, published by Empty Bowl. Tim is also the author of eleven books on natural history, including Olympic National Park: A Natural History (4th edition released in 2018 from University of Washington Press), and Washington’s Mount Rainier National Park. He contributed an introductory essay to a reissue of Murray Morgan’s Olympic Peninsula classic, The Last Wilderness. Tim has received the Washington State Book Award and the National Outdoor Book Award among other honors. He lives in the foothills of Washington’s Olympic Mountains and is active in Northwest environmental issues. Tim’s website is timmcnultypoet.com.

Q&A: After Gina’s reading, Holly J. Hughes moderated the short Q&A session between Gina and audience members. Holly is the author of Hold Fast, Passings, and Sailing by Ravens, co-author of The Pen and The Bell: Mindful Writing in a Busy World, and editor of the anthology Beyond Forgetting: Poetry and Prose about Alzheimer’s Disease. Her fine art chapbook Passings received an American Book Award in 2017. After commercial fishing for salmon in Alaska, skippering a 65-foot schooner, working as a naturalist on ships, and teaching writing at the college level, she now lives on the Olympic peninsula, where she leads writing and mindfulness workshops in Alaska and the Northwest and consults as a writing coach. Find her online at hollyjhughes.com

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Episode 12: Poetry as a Tool for Self-Healing

The Prickly Pear Podcast, Episode 12: Poetry as a Tool for Self-Healing

Everything is a mess nowadays (we’re looking at you, COVID-19, rampant and continued racism against BIPOC , the unsettling state of local and national economy, zealous over-policing, etc.) and it can feel incredibly overwhelming to just get out of bed some mornings and trudge through the day. For some of us, though, poetry and art are things we can hold onto as an anchor amid the turmoil, or tools in our efforts to self-heal during times of upheaval.

This podcast episode is all about that healing process. We asked guest poets Gloria Muhammad, who also serves as a writer, teaching artist and educator, and Celia Nimura-Parmenter, a youth poet active in the arts community in Tacoma, to join us in conversation about poetry as a tool for self-healing. Hit play and enjoy, friends!


*This episode is part one of a collaboration with Write253, a youth literary arts non-profit encouraging young people in Tacoma and Pierce County to express themselves through writing, performance, and publication. Part two will be The Prickly Pear Podcast, Episode 13: Poetry as Activism, and it’ll drop later this month. It features Michael Haelfinger, executive director of Write253, as guest host in a conversation with youth poets Emerson Pimentel, PJ Sorem, and Tashawn Deville about the crossroads of poetry and activism. Be sure to follow Write253 and Blue Cactus Press on social media to find out exactly when that episode drops!


About the Guests

Gloria Muhammad is a teaching artist, educator, and writer. She is passionate about community building and bringing people together. A current para-educator, Gloria has worked with young people and adult learners in various educational settings. As a teaching artist, she enjoys hosting writing workshops rooted in healing and personal development. To book Gloria for a writing workshop or to learn more, send her a DM @whoisgloriajoy or email gloriajoymuhammad@gmail.com.

Celia Nimura-Parmenter is a proud Queer, mixed, Yonsei high schooler. She currently attends an arts high school and is majoring in theatre and humanities. Celia is a believer in the fight for civil rights and using the arts in favor of activism. Someday she hopes to be a senator, a director and professional actress, and a grade school humanities teacher.


Podcast Notes

Gloria’s Go-To Tools for Feeling Good

Celia’s Go-To Tools for Self-Healing:

Christina’s Go-To Tools for Self-Soothing