Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on 1 Comment

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

Posted on Leave a comment

¡Book Giveaway!

We’re crazy about our newest chapbooks, The Bedouin | There Are No False Alarms, by Yousef Allouzi and Samuel Snoek-Brown, respectively, and we think you will be, too, once you get your hands on them! To celebrate these beautifully crafted, memoir chapbooks and the hard work the authors put into writing them, we’re offering a delectable BOOK GIVEAWAY!

For the next week, anyone who purchases a copy of The Bedouin | There Are No False Alarms will get a FREE BOOK from Blue Cactus Press! Here’s how it works: 

  1. Add The Bedouin | There Are No False Alarms to your cart.
  2. When you checkout, include the title of your requested, FREE book in the order comments (located at the bottom of the order page). Select among any previously published BCP title. 
  3. Complete your purchase!

That’s It! Just enjoy your books when they arrive in the mail! Happy reading, friends!

Posted on Leave a comment

Publisher Christina Butcher ft. on “We Art Tacoma”

Last week, BCP publisher and poet Christina Butcher recorded a podcast episode with our friends at We Art Tacoma, a podcast about the arts in Tacoma, Washington, and the story of the people behind the art.

Listen to the podcast here and enjoy a short conversation between Christina and We Art Tacoma host, Erik Hanberg, about how Blue Cactus Press got started, the literary scene in Tacoma, and who has time for their own creative writing (hint: not Christina).

For those of you unfamiliar with We Art Tacoma and the podcast network it’s a part of, let us fill you in! We Art Tacoma is a part of Channel 253, which has multiple podcasts about Tacoma, featuring conversations on art, civics, journalism and more. Check out more of their podcasts here.

Posted on Leave a comment

It’s Your Country, Too

A conversation with authors Yousef Allouzi & Samuel Snoek-Brown about writing, publishing, and co-creating

With the launch of The Bedouin by Yousef Allouzi and There Are No False Alarms by Samuel Snoek-Brown right around the corner, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to give readers a deeper understanding of the how’s and why’s behind the paired chapbooks and their authors. So, we asked Yousef and Sam to chat with us about their writing, the publishing process, and their relationship as writers and co-conspirators. Enjoy, friends!


Yousef Allouzi, “It’s Your Country, Too”

Q: Yousef, your essay centers on heritage and reconnecting with your family, but it also touches on racial profiling and discrimination in the U.S. Will you talk about how those themes intermingle in your writing and personal life?

A: The intermingling of heritage and family with discrimination and racial profiling has always been a part of my life.  From the time I was young, I was very aware that being Arab-American was drenched in stigma, whether it be the “t word” (terrorist) or the general portrayal of Arab-Americans in pop culture and television.  I lived much of my youth ashamed of my heritage. I liken it to the feeling of being poor.  I can remember the first time I visited a kid’s house in a gated community back in Texas.  I felt like I shouldn’t be there. No matter how many showers you take, or how expensive the clothes you are wearing, you don’t feel like you belong. So, naturally, I try and let those feelings seep into my writing. 

Q: What do you hope readers take away from reading your essay?

A: The American story is a story of diversity. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. It’s your country too.  It’s become somewhat of a cliché, but history has a way of repeating itself. Our country has a very fickle relationship with civil rights during conflict, and the fallout of 9/11 was no different. 

Continue reading It’s Your Country, Too
Posted on Leave a comment

Virtual Book Launch & Reading Is a Go!

We’d like to invite you to join us on Monday, July 20 at 7PM, for a short, digital reading and book launch for Yousef Allouzi and Samuel Snoek-Brown! Both authors will read from and answers questions about their newly published chapbooks, which are launching the same day!

REGISTER  FOR THE EVENT (registration is required!) by emailing bluecactuspress@gmail.com.

The Bedouin by Yousef Allouzi and There Are No False Alarms by Samuel Snoek-Brown will publish in tandem as part of the Blue Cactus Press Chapbook Series, which pairs emerging writers with an established author who mentors them through the publishing experience. Find out more about the chapbooks (and pre-order your copy) here. 

During the launch event, the authors will read from their work, answer questions about the publishing process, and dive into the ins and outs of their creative work for audience members. Please join us in celebration and support of these two, phenomenal authors!

Posted on 1 Comment

Tashawn Deville

Prickly Pear Podcast Episode 11: Tashawn Deville

Hello there. Its been a hell of a year so far, friends, but we’re doing our best to keep moving forward and to do so as community members with a standing responsibility to fight for social justice and ending institutionalized racism. In a beautiful synthesis of timing and energy, we just finished our newest podcast episode, The Prickly Pear Podcast, Episode 11: Tashawn Deville.

This episode features spoken word poetry Tashawn is known for around town. The incredible poem Tashawn chose to share, “AmeriKKKa,” was inspired by “the many social inequalities and injustices that I and many People of Color face,” says Deville. 

Hit play and listen to Tashawn’s poetry (seriously, listen). And if you enjoy her work and find value in it, please donate to her directly via Cash App, at $heypaymeh.


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. 

Posted on 1 Comment

Learning From My Garden in Four Colors


Learning From My Garden in Four Colors

An essay by Tamiko Nimura

Green

Mid-March 2020, Washington state. Too anxious to even buy seeds. Too soon to plant seeds outside. I remember what I’d started a few years ago: my desktop garden. The ends of romaine heads, the tops of carrots, the bottoms of baby bok choy. Soon I’ve got trays of vegetable scraps on my work desk.

Daughter and granddaughter of immigrants, I begin to “upcycle” (hoard) the plastic clamshell containers for strawberries, the aluminum trays and clear covers that came with our takeout dinners.

Continue reading Learning From My Garden in Four Colors
Posted on Leave a comment

Allyship in This Time of Civil Unrest

A note from the publisher, Christina Butcher

Now is the time to stand up and support Black community members across the country in the fight against police brutality, systemic injustice and racism.

Yes, this is a fight. And yes, we need to stand in solidarity as a community of supporters, allies and activists to ensure personal safety and freedoms of Black people, especially, and Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), generally, as they are continually targeted by police and racists across our country. Refusing to take a stand in some way, even in the smallest, most personal show of support you can muster, counters the efforts of activists and reinforces the corrupted systems in place. Complacency is complicity. I’ll say that again. Complacency is complicity.

As a company, Blue Cactus Press stands with Black Lives Matter and supports the wider, continuous efforts toward racial equality and justice in the U.S. We are working to increase the ways we support Black community members and take action to counter racial injustice. We can do more, and this is the start of that.

As a Woman of Color, I also stand with Black Lives Matter and support the work it, and other organizations, put into changing our socio-political landscape for the better. I see this work and I’m eager to participate. As a pregnant woman though, my physical limitations keep me from participating in many of the ways I’d like to. And I admit, I have been slow to accept the reality that my body is not my own, and to temper my mental and emotional desires to “do more” in this fight. I know there are many of you out there, as well, looking for ways to take meaningful action despite your own physical, mental and emotional barriers. So, in an attempt to lay out an actionable plan for myself and others, I’ve written a list of things we can do to be better, stronger allies with Black and BIPOC community members in this time of civil unrest.

Continue reading Allyship in This Time of Civil Unrest
Posted on Leave a comment

Artist Interview: DJ Smokey Wonder

Prickly Pear Podcast Episode 10: DJ Smoky Wonder

Yeah. A whole podcast episode of nothin’ but good-good music by one of our favorite, Tacoma-based musicians, DJ Smokey Wonder. Why? Because life is hard and sometimes it’s refreshing – and necessary – to participate in things that bring us joy and don’t expect a damn thing in return. 

So take a break from worrying about  the CODIV-19 heath crisis, the overwhelming number of online meetings you have to attend, work or the lack thereof, and everything else cramping your style this summer and just listen to some damn-good music. After a six-month-ish podcast hiatus, we’re back and eager to share a brand new podcast episode featuring homegrown, bad ass, get-down-funky music by DJ Smokey Wonder.

Continue reading Artist Interview: DJ Smokey Wonder