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Our New Favorite Podcast

Hello, friends! We wanted to introduce you all to our new favorite podcast: Storytellers Telling Stories. This lovely little production is a literary “radio theater” podcast created by Jude Brewer. It features a different storyteller every week (many of whom we have a serious literary crush on) narrating their literary work for listeners’ pleasure.

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Storytellers Telling Stories launched in October 2017 and since then, over 21 episodes have been published! Included in Season One are two episodes by Blue Cactus Press authors: Christina Butcher (yes, that’s me!) and Sam Snoek-Brown (yes, he’s amazing!). But, we’re not writing this blog post to toot our own horns; we’re writing it to introduce you to the magical literary experience Jude creates in this podcast. We’re also hoping to convince you to listen and subscribe 🙂

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In addition to clean audio and riveting stories, each episode of Storytellers Telling Stories includes sound effects and music. Now, if you’ve ever worked on a podcast you know how much work can go into just a few minutes of finished audio – so trust us when we tell you Jude has spent copious amounts of time and energy on each episode!

Did we mention that Jude also enlists the help of local artists to create artwork for every episode? Yeah, he really does. Each collaboration results in a lovely, meaningful piece of art directly connected to the episode’s content. It’s the perfect marriage of visual arts and literature.

Some of our favorites episodic masterpieces are:

Episode 3 – Itzá – by Rios de la Luz

Episode 8 – Heller – by Domi Shoemaker

Episode 18 – Barefoot in the Guadalupe – by Samuel Snoek-Brown
(we can’t help it, it’s just good writing …)

The next time you’re stuck in the car during rush hour, getting ready for a long walk through the neighborhood or looking for a good story on a rainy day, plug your headphones in and download an episode of Storytellers Telling Stories. It’s literary magic, friends.

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Sneak Peek, Anyone?

Well hello there! We thought it was about time to bring you, dear readers, a sneak peek of Samuel Snoek-Brown’s forthcoming short story collection, There Is No Other Way to Worship Them. Watch the video below to get the inside scoop on the themes, content and inspiration behind the collection. Then, get your hands on “It Was the Only Way,” one of the nine little beauties inside the book. Enjoy!

 

PS: We highly recommend reading “It Was the Only Way” while sipping tequila and eating messy, delicious tacos. It’s #TacoTuesday, after all! 

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A Poetry Reading, Plain & Simple

It may not be spring yet, but Blue Cactus Press is ready for a little pick-me-up (and we think you are, too)! So, in the hopes of luring warm weather and a few friends back onto our block, we’re inviting  you to a poetry reading in Tacoma. Join  Nicole McCarthy and Christina Butcher for a poetry reading this Saturday at Black Kettle Bites and Brew. The reading will begin promptly at 5 p.m. And before you ask, yes, there will be happy hour pricing on drinks throughout the reading.  We hope you can make it, friends!

What: A Poetry Reading with Nicole McCarthy & Christina Butcher

When: 5 p.m. Saturday, Mar 10

Where: Black Kettle Bites and Brew
(744 Market Street, Tacoma)

March Event


About the Poets 

nicole

Nicole McCarthy is an experimental writer who earned her MFA from the University of Washington Bothell. Her work has appeared in Glass: a Journal of Poetry, The Shallow Ends, Dream Pop Press, B(o)ink, Crab Fat Magazine, Ghost Proposal, FLAPPERHOUSE, Tinderbox Poetry, The Fem, Civil Coping Mechanism’s A Shadow Map anthology, and forthcoming in Memoir Mixtapes, FIVE:2:ONE Magazine, and the 2018 Best American Experimental Writing anthology. Her work has been performed & encountered as projection installation pieces throughout Tacoma & Seattle. She can be found on Twitter @GarbytheSass and her work can be found at nicolemccarthypoet.com. She works at Hugo House in Seattle.

 

Christina Butcher

Christina Butcher is a Chicana poet, publisher and veteran from New Mexico. She has a passion for storytelling and community involvement. She’s a working writer and is a regular contributor to The Ranger, Weekly Volcano, Hilltop Action Journal and Thurston County Chamber of Commerce’s VOICE Magazine. Her writing has also appeared in City Arts, Creative Colloquy, and OLY ARTS. Christina’s debut poetry collection, “Still Clutching Maps,” was published in May 2017 by Blue Cactus Press. It explores ideas of language, power, and place as they inform a person’s ever-evolving identity. Christina holds degrees in anthropology and Chinese-Mandarin language studies, as well as a certificate in storytelling and content strategy. She lives in Tacoma.

 

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“Transform” Community Event & Readings

Did you know Spaceworks Tacoma partnered with Creative Colloquy to present readings on transforming Tacoma’s theater district to you, dear readers, on Feb. 22? We did, and maybe we should have mentioned it sooner, but life and poetry readings and travel happened and we got a bit distracted (but we knew you’d forgive us). The readings are just a small part of TRANSFORM, a project presented by Pierce Transit, City of Tacoma and the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. It’s goal is to revitalize Tacoma’s theater district between 9th and 11th streets between Broadway and Pacific Ave.

We’re over-the-moon with excitement about the event, especially the readings, as Blue Cactus Press author Christina Butcher will be one of six local authors presenting work that comments on revamping Tacoma’s theater district. Christina will present a poetic piece titled “#TRANSFORM.”

There will also be light refreshments, an open-mic following Creative Colloquy’s readings, and (hopefully) lively discourse on the future of our community. The event is free, and we hope you find time to pop by and participate.

What: TRANSFORM Community Event & Reading

When: 6 – 8 p.m. Thursday, Feb 22

Where: Pythian Temple
(926 1/2 Broadway, Tacoma)

More Info: Transform Theater District Community Event

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New Year, New Book!

Exactly one year ago, Blue Cactus Press opened for business and started working towards publishing our first book. One marvelous year later, we’re back at it again! BCP is celebrating our one year anniversary with a special announcement about our newest, upcoming book by a truly talented author, Samuel Snoek-Brown.

Continue reading New Year, New Book!

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Poetry Reading @ Browsers Bookshop

The holidays are upon us! So, before everyone gets jazzed up on sugar cookies, glittery wrapping paper and tasty Christmas cocktails, I thought I’d let you know I’m kicking 2018 off with a poetry reading at Browsers Bookshop. I’m happy to say I’ll be reading alongside Olympia poet Joanne M. Clarkson, whose work I admire very much, on January 22 at 6:30 p.m.

Joanne and I will read from our respective new poetry collections, The Fates by Joanne M. Clarkson and Still Clutching Maps by Christina Butcher. We’d love for you to join us for a wintry night of poetry next January!

What: Christina Butcher & Joanne M. Clarkson Poetry Reading

When: 6:30 p.m. Monday, January 22

Where: Browsers Bookshop
(107 Capitol Way N, Olympia)


More about the Authors & Their Work: 
Christina ButcherChristina Butcher is a freelance writer, podcaster and veteran from Chaparral, New Mexico. She has a passion for storytelling and community involvement. She’s a regular contributor to OLY ARTS, The Ranger, Weekly Volcano and Thurston County Chamber of Commerce’s VOICE Magazine. Her writing has also appeared in City Arts, Creative Colloquy and Hilltop Action Journal. Christina’s debut poetry collection, Still Clutching Maps, was published in May 2017 by Blue Cactus Press. It explores ideas of language, power, and place as they inform a person’s ever-evolving identity. Christina holds degrees in anthropology and Chinese-Mandarin language studies, as well as a certificate in storytelling and content strategy. She lives and writes in Tacoma, Washington.
Joanne as PoetJoanne M. Clarkson’s full-length poetry collection, The Fates, won Bright Hill Press’ annual contest and was published in June 2017. This year her work was featured in the WA129 Poet Laureate Anthology, Blue Heron Review, Catamaran, Edge, Modern Poetry Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, the Ice Cream Anthology from World Enough Writers and the We’Moon Datebook for 2018. She has been the recipient of a GAP Grant from Artists Trust and a NEH grant to teach poetry in rural libraries. Clarkson has Master’s Degrees in English and Library Science. She has taught and worked as a professional librarian. After caring for her mother through a long illness, she re-careered as a RN specializing in Home Health and Hospice Care. She lives in Olympia, WA, and serves on the Board of the Olympia Poetry Network.
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Book Review: Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts

Earlier this afternoon I had a wonderful conversation about the synthesis of science, art and literature with a quirky entrepreneur (thank you, Spaceworks Tacoma and Creative Colloquy for landing me in that exquisite moment).

Before the conversation was over, my brain started buzzing and whirring as I thought about some of my favorite, recent collaborations across media. Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts, a collection of poetry by Maya Jewell Zeller and visual arts by Carrie DeBacker, was the very first that came to mind.

I picked up Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts (which is a little beauty of a book) at the Cascadia Poetry Festival’s small press fair back in October, as I ambled from one publisher booth to the next. Eventually, I found my way to Entre Rios Books, where collaboration and multimedia are an integral part of the publishing company’s ethos.

I thumbed my way through of the books on the table before gravitating towards Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts, and I was immediately struck by not only the playfulness of the content on the page, but the seeming innocence and whimsy of the visual art and poetry inside. I fell in love so, so quickly.little-spell-with-a-ship-on-its-backOver the next few weeks, I read and reread the poems in Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts, marveling that Jewell Zeller was able to deliver earthy, intricate imagery and allude to gut-wrenching topics, all-the-while managing to keep the tone of the book light and hopeful.

The poems felt fresh and they left me full of wonder after each read: wonder at the author’s use of language rooted in biology, the natural world, science and medicine; and wonder at the illustrator’s ability to capture that same tone before instilling it with her own, quirky flavor. Much of the beauty of this book is in the synthesis of the soft edges of the art and the sharp language of the poems.little-spell-with-chest-xrayI also loved that the meat and the potatoes of the book, the poetry itself, is heartfelt and well-written. As a reader, each poem kept me on my toes with varied structure and placement on the page, use of repeated themes to evoke very different emotions in each poem, and subjects that virtually anyone can empathize with.

Overall, I’m thoroughly impressed with Alchemy for Cells & Other Beasts and I can’t wait to go down a literary rabbit hole of the author’s, illustrator’s and publisher’s other works. I highly recommend this book to anyone who appreciates the beauty of collaboration and/or the literary arts. It’s a feast for the eyes.

 

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Listen to the Poem!

Yes, I did get that from Write253’s Louder Than A Bomb Tacoma poetry slam, but listening to poetry and truly hearing the messages authors are conveying is more important than ever as our country continues to divide itself along political and racial lines. Despite our national division, I see poets, authors, musicians and artists trying to sew the gap back up with art. And I can honestly say I’m continually impressed  not only the quality of their creative work, but with the strength of their messages, as well.

The impact of Tacoma’s local artistry hit me the hardest this afternoon at a post-workshop open mic hosted by Write253. The workshops and open mic were a part of the Cascadia Poetry Festival, which is happening all weekend (and includes a small press fair that yours truly will be peddling my wares at on Saturday afternoon).

Write253’s open mic was filled with young writers and musicians, all of whom blew me away with their performances. Students spoke with honesty and grit about alcoholism, violence, identity and race, community, friendship and politics, and they did so with a sense of abandon that I think many adults (myself included) struggle to achieve.

It was inspiring. They were inspiring. So I sat down to create something of my own, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. I went home and recorded a few poems as spoken word to share with you in the same way the young poets I heard this afternoon shared with me.

This fall and winter, I hope to record more poetry, to write new poems, and to share as much of it with you as I can. If I can swing it, I’ll record stories and poems by other local authors, as well. Listen in and let me know what you think.

More importantly, sit down and write. and share. and do it again and again and again. 

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Blue Cactus Press Book Sale @ Cascadia Poetry Festival

Everyone loves a good book fair, right?

We’ll assume you enthusiastically shouted “right!” at your computer screen when you read that.

And because we completely agree with you, Blue Cactus Press is taking part in the 2017 Cascadia Poetry Festival Small Press Fair, happening Oct. 14 at Washington State History Museum.

Blue Cactus Press will have copies of our first title, Still Clutching Maps, for sale at our booth (which we’re sharing with the amazing local poet and author Leah Mueller), information on our vision and community involvement, and recorded poems for you to listen to and enjoy as your browse the book fair. Other regional presses participating in the small press fair include Cascadia College, Floating Bridge PressMoon Path PressPacifica Literary ReviewPageBoy MagazinePleasure Boat StudioReckoning Press,  Uttered ChaosWave Books and more.

The Small Press Fair is one of several components of the 2017 Cascadia Poetry Festival, which includes themed poetry readings by prominent authors of the Pacific Northwestm guided workshops and round table discussions from Oct. 12 – 15. We hope to see you there, whether you’re buying books or simply hoping to enjoy a poetry reading.

What: Blue Cactus Press Book Sale 

When: noon – 5 p.m. Saturday, October 14 

Where: Washington State History Museum
(1911 Pacific Avenue, Tacoma)

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Christina Butcher at Deep Waters’ Monthly Reading & Open Mic

I know this is short notice, but if you’re free this Friday night please join me for an evening of poetry at Deep Waters‘ monthly gathering and open mic reading. I’m honored to be this month’s featured guest! Despite the nerve-wracking terror I feel before readings, I’m truly excited to share my work with the folks of Deep Waters. In addition to reading from my new poetry collection, Still Clutching Maps, I’ll also read newer works and chat about my inspiration for writing. I’ll have books available for sale at the event.

What: Deep Waters’ monthly reading & open mic, ft. Christina Butcher

When: September 15, 7 p.m 

Where: Steilacoom Public Library
(2950 Steilacoom Blvd, Steilacoom, WA)