Episode 8: Therapy Isn’t a Death Sentence with Robert Lashley

It’s been a contemplative spring, friends, one as heavy with emotional processing as the branches of a flowering peony bush (you know, the ones near Chinese Reconciliation Park in Tacoma, with milky-white flowers larger than our fists and a melancholy that drags at the bush). We’ve been absorbed with emotional processing all year, it seems, and our latest podcast interview with Robert Lashley, an exceptionally lyrical and honest poet, was no different.

Robert joined us for a cathartic and open conversation about authenticity in art, the manifestation of grief, and the weight of public shaming. We also dived into respectability politics, gentrification and heritage, and were fortunate that Robert shared his poetry with us throughout the conversation. We hope you enjoy this one, folks, or at the very least, come away with a deeper appreciation for how our complex array of emotion and personal experience inform our art, whether intentional or not. Now grab those headphones, head to Chinese Reconciliation Park, and every now or then, look up from the flowers to watch the fog drift over the water. Drift with it.

*This episode of Prickly Pear Podcast was recorded at Hugo House, a resource and education center for writers, in Seattle. Thank you again to Hugo House for graciously allowing us to record our podcast in one of their cozy workshop spaces. Learn about upcoming writing workshops, readings, and opportunities to utilize writing spaces at HugoHouse.org.


About Our Sponsor

The Prickly Pear Podcast is sponsored by Oakes & Alder​ day spa and apothecary. Each of our episodes is recorded in Oakes & Alder’s lovely space in North End, Tacoma, where you can partake in spa services and find natural skincare products and bulk herbs. Learn more about the spa on Facebook at Oakes & Alder or IG at @oakesandalder! To see it in person, head to Oakes & Alder, 2714 N 21st St, Tacoma, WA 98406.

We Come up for Air

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Over the last few months, the folks behind Blue Cactus Press (including myself, the publisher, our authors, intern and new conspirators) have kept our heads down and our hands deep in the weeds of publishing work. Today we’re coming up for air, and we’ve got big news to share with you, our much-loved community:

We broke-up with Amazon

Over the last two and a half years, we’ve learned a lot about the publishing industry, what we can do to conduct business ethically, and how best to support other businesses in the publishing chain. We’re still learning, but one thing we’ve known for a while is that when we utilize Amazon’s services – as a print-on-demand and sales platform – we aren’t serving anyone well. Sure, Amazon is cheap and fast, but every time we utilize it for publishing purposes, we take business away from printers and independent bookstores, no to mention severely lower profits for authors, artists, designers, editors, and our company. So, we’ve officially pulled our titles from all Amazon platforms. Doing this will allow us to better support other small businesses in the industry, including independent bookstores, printers, artists, designers and of course, authors.

You can still purchase BCP titles online, directly from bluecactuspress.com, or from independent bookstores like King’s Books, Browsers Bookshop, Orca Books and Open Books. If you’re not in the area, you can still order our books from independent bookstores across the U.S., as we’re now utilizing industry leaders like IngramSpark for distribution. For in-house and event stock, we’re working with a highly-recommended printer – Bookmobile.

We hired a bomb-ass podcast producer

Being over-worked control freaks running on very little sleep is no fun for anyone, so we hired an AMAZING conspirator: Austin Scheen. Austin is our new podcast producer, handling everything from music production to editing to mastering. You’ll hear his cool-kid music on the upcoming podcast episode, out next week! We’re stoked to have Austin on our team, as his skills in audio production far exceed our own. He also adds a wealth of talent to the fray as an accomplished DJ (find him on SoundCloud under DJ Alkemist), artist, and producer.

 

Our intern is now our publishing assistant

If you’ve met Carlisle, or read her work (find it in The Trail or online here at BCP) you know how valuable she is as a writer, editor, and publishing assistant. As her internship came to a close this May, we decided to keep this good thing going by asking her to continue to be a part of the BCP family. She accepted. Our lives are better now. We want to surround ourselves with good people doing good work, and Carlisle is one of those people. It’s that simple.

 

We simplified our literary calendar

Starting this month, the BCP literary calendar will only include events that Blue Cactus Press or our conspirators (authors, artists, designers, editors) are involved in. Why, you might ask? Because we’re tired and we value sleep and self-care. There are very few people behind the scenes at BCP, and we’d rather consolidate our efforts to bring you beautifully crafted books and highly curated events than spend our energy updating calendars in the middle of the night. We’re consolidating, and it feels good. Plus, now that we’re less busy drafting event listings about readings, we’ll have time TO ACTUALLY GO TO READINGS AND LITERARY EVENTS. Amen to that.

We’re leaving the country

But we’re coming back, promise. For the entirety of June, I, your trusty and tired publisher, Christina, am taking a much-needed, long-awaited trip to Portugal and Spain. I’m hiking the Camino de Santiago. I’m letting my mind rest and giving my body what it desperately wants: dusty roads underfoot, long miles under the heat of the sun, a pack pressed against my back. Today, I’m two months sober. I hope to return with three months’ sobriety under my belt and a renewed appreciation for the load my body can bare. I need rest, friends, and this is how my heart, head and body get it. They beg for it: travel, physical work, solitude. And I’m listening. See you in July, friends.

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Episode 7: Abby E. Murray’s Snack Pack PhD Regalia

That’s right, Blue Cactus Press snagged an interview with Abby E. Murray, award-winning author, educator, and the 2019 – 2021 Tacoma poet laureate! Abby joined us earlier this spring for a delightfully weird conversation about expensive-AF writing retreats, juggling balls and spinning plates, and figuring out how many snacks one can fit into their PhD regalia (spoiler alert: approximately 8-9 snacks, unless one is lumpy, in which case one can fit many, many more snacks).

More importantly, we chatted about Abby’s incredible, community-centered work at The Selma R Carson Home, where she holds writing workshops for undocumented and unaccompanied boys, and her role at Collateral, a literary journal showcasing creative writing and art exploring the impact of violent conflict and military service beyond the combat zone.

*Learn more about Abby and her subversive plans as Tacoma’s new poetry queen (note: we need no kings) here, or visit the Tacoma Poet Laureate webpage.


About Our Sponsor

The Prickly Pear Podcast is sponsored by Oakes & Alder​ day spa and apothecary. Each of our episodes is recorded in Oakes & Alder’s lovely space in North End, Tacoma, where you can partake in spa services and find natural skincare products and bulk herbs. Learn more about the spa on Facebook at Oakes & Alder or IG at @oakesandalder! To see it in person, head to Oakes & Alder, 2714 N 21st St, Tacoma, WA 98406.