Hello, Carlisle!

Goodbye snow, hello spring! Well, almost spring 🙂 As we await blue skies and warmer weather, we’re also saying hello to a new addition to the Blue Cactus Press team: Carlisle Huntington. Please join us in welcoming Carlisle to the literary fold as a much-appreciated publishing intern! Carlisle is a student at University of Puget Sound, and she’s studying English and Creative Writing. Over the next few months, she’ll assist with all sorts of pesky editorial, marketing and distribution tasks here at Blue Cactus Press.

But before Carlisle’s work begins, we think it’s important to give you – our friends and readers – a sense of who she is and what she stands for. We held a quick Q&A session with Carlisle to do just that. Here goes!


Q&A with Carlisle Huntington


Q: What draws you to literary arts?

Carlisle: I’ve always been a voracious reader – ever since I was a little kid. There’s a great Shel Silverstein poem, “Magic,” which I think really sums things up for me:

“Read this to yourself. Read it silently.
Don’t move your lips. 
Don’t make a sound?
Listen to yourself. 
Listen without hearing anything.
What a wonderfully weird thing, huh? 

Reading is just a wonderfully weird thing! I’ve always been fascinated by the sheer magic of it all- that you could take a bunch of arbitrary squiggles and shapes on a page and create this beautiful internal experience. It feels like a super power.


Q: What interests you about publishing, in particular?

C: Publishers act as gatekeepers in a lot of ways, and when you read a lot, you notice which stories – which voices – are privileged over others. Despite the growth of digital media and online platforms, and that anyone can publish their work nowadays, a lot of people’s work isn’t necessarily being seen. I want to do my part to change that. I want to help worthy and deserving artists be seen and different stories being told. I want to change the narrative and (hopefully) change the world along with it.


Q: Do you create art? If so, tell us about it!

I used to write a lot of poetry when I was younger. I even competed in my hometown’s  first high school poetry slam competition. But lately, I identify more as a fiction writer. Even when I was writing poetry, it was very narrative-based. I also crochet, embroider and dabble in water color painting every now and then. I’m really big on the DIY scene, in general. I just love being able to make something where there wasn’t anything before.


Q: What inspires you creatively?

The obvious answer is other writers. Nothing makes me want to write more than reading good fiction – the kind that makes you stop and reconsider the world for a little while. I’m also a big film fan, so movies can be a big source of inspiration – especially animated films. There’s so much craft and care in each frame and the world-building is astounding! Particularly, I’m a fan of the director Hayao Miyazaki … He really takes his time to tell a story … pausing the action to meditate on a single image like preparing ramen or watching grass move in the wind.


Q: What do you enjoy reading?

I love romantic poetry. I’m a big Wordsworth and William Blake Fan. I also love my ladies of modernism, like Djuna Barnes, Gertrude Stein, or Marianne Moore. They’re just so wonderfully bizarre … Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of short stories. I love magical realism. Karen Tai Yamashita is a new favorite of mine right now … I also just finished Her Body and other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado and it absolutely slew me! There’s something so engaging about folklore on a real primal level, and it’s such a ripe landscape for deconstructing our gender and sexuality.


Q: How are you involved in your local community?

I’m very much involved in my campus community at University of Puget Sound. I do a lot of work with the English Department to plan literary events on campus. A big goal of ours is to draw-in students from across all disciplines and show them literature is for everyone. One way we do that is with the campus book club, which is open to all majors and minors. Every semester we have a different theme. This semester, the theme is metafiction – or writing about writing. We’re starting with Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. It’s been incredible to see people who’ve never taken an English class get so excited by literature.


Q: What changes would you like to see in our community?

One of my favorite things about writing for Puget Sound Trail is that I get to interact with the literary community off campus and serve as a liaison between UPS and the greater Tacoma community. There’s such a great artistic community in Tacoma that is growing more and more each day, and I love finding more ways to get other students involved with it.


More about Carlisle:

Carlisle Huntington is a junior at the University of Puget Sound, majoring in English and creative writing. Originally from Orange County California, she’ll deny ever having lived there. She’s had a passion for reading and literary arts for as long as she could hold a pencil and turn a page. Though poetry and fiction were her first loves, she also has experience with journalism. She writes for University of Puget Sound newspaper Puget Sound Trail. When she’s not writing, she’s planning the next creative event for her local campus community. She’s the head of the UPS English Department Event Planning Committee and she oversees the UPS English Film Series, Holiday Book Swap, and Campus Book Club. Her Other hobbies include crochet, embroidery, and boiling her entire identity into a pithy paragraph.

Live-Recording ft. José Olivarez & Britteney Black Rose Kapri

PPP Live Recording

This March, the Prickly Pear Podcast welcomed poetry giants  JosĂ© Olivarez and Britteney Black Rose Kapri to Tacoma for a live podcast recording! JosĂ© and Britteney joined our podcast host, Christina Butcher, and local poet Michael Haeflinger, for a chat about poetry, art and identity at King’s Books on March 20th.

The live-recording was sponsored by Write253, as part of the fourth annual Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB)-Tacoma teen poetry slam festival (March 2019). The festival culminated in a youth poetry slam on March 23 at Alma Mater.


About the Guests

José Olivarez is the son of Mexican immigrants. His debut book of poems, Citizen Illegal, was awarded the 2018 Chicago Review of Books Poetry Prize, and it was named a top book of 2018 by NPR and the New York Public Library. Along with Felicia Chavez and Willie Perdomo, he is co-editing the forthcoming anthology, The BreakBeat Poets Vol. 4: LatiNEXT. He is the co-host of the poetry podcast, The Poetry Gods and a recipient of fellowships from CantoMundo, Poets House, the Bronx Council on the Arts, the Poetry Foundation, & the Conversation Literary Festival. His work has been featured in The New York Times, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. In 2018, he was awarded the first annual Author and Artist in Justice Award from the Phillips Brooks House Association and named a Debut Poet of 2018 by Poets & Writers. He lives in New York City.


Britteney Black Rose Kapri is a teaching artist, writer, performance poet, and playwright. She is the author of Black Queer Hoe (Haymarket Books, 2018). Her writing has been published in Poetry magazine, Vinyl, Day One, SevenScribes, and Kinfolks Quarterly. She is an alumna turned teaching artist fellow at Young Chicago Authors. Kapri is also a staff member and writer for Black Nerd Problems, and a former Rona Jaffe Writers Award recipient. She lives in Chicago.

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. Check the spa out 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.

¡The 2019 Lineup!

Before 2019 gets any further underway, Blue Cactus Press has a big announcement to make! In celebration of two fantastic years of publishing under our belt, we’re announcing our 2019 lineup of authors! Please join us in welcoming three phenomenal local artists, poets, and writers to the Blue Cactus Press family:


Jack Cameron

author, blogger

Michael Haeflinger

poet, musician, educator

Kellie Richardson

writer, artist, educator

Keep an eye out for news about Jack, Michael and Kellie’s upcoming titles with Blue Cactus Press over the next few months, and join us for a night of readings on Feb 28 at Notes Coffee Company in Parkland, WA. There, Blue Cactus Press Alumni Lux Barker, Samuel Snoek-Brown and Christina Butcher will take to the stage alongside Jack Cameron and Michael Haeflinger. Event details can be found here. Learn more about each of our talented authors below! 

Jack Cameron


Jack Cameron is the author of Ruin Your Life, a self-help book for hooligans, 15 Minute Stories, a collection of flash fiction, and Kickstart Your Kickstarter, an ebook on crowdfunding. His work has also appeared Creative Colloquy’s online and print collections. He maintains a website called TacomaStories.com which covers local businesses and events as well as every homicide that happens in the city of Tacoma.

He holds an Associates in Human Services from Tacoma Community College and a Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College. You can find him online on his personal website, jackcameron.com, at @jackcameron on Twitter, or on Facebook. He also writes a weekly newsletter called Notes From Table 30 that you can subscribe to at http://tinyletter.com/jackcameron.

Michael Haeflinger

Michael Haeflinger

Michael Haeflinger is a local poet, musician and educator. He’s also the executive director of Write253, a non-profit youth literacy organization serving Pierce County. Michael earned a BA in Religion from Wright State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Rutgers University. He is the author of two chapbooks of poetry: Love Poem for the Everyday (2011) and The Days Before (2013). In 2016, he released Let’s Don’t Be Crazy, a spoken word album partially funded by the Tacoma Arts Commission.

Kellie Richardson


Kellie Richardson is a writer, artist and educator born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. Her work explores the intersection of race, class, and gender with specific emphasis on themes of love, loss and longing. She employs both classical poetic forms as well as contemporary mediums such as spoken word. Her work is provocative yet accessible, powerful yet vulnerable. In addition to publishing original work, Kellie created the blog, Brown Betty, in 2012. Brown Betty exists to provide armor and inspiration for real life; a place where commerce and community intersect to cultivate healing. The blog explores the complexities of navigating the human experience, and calls its readers to continue to be inspired to endure and overcome barriers to their happiness.

Kellie is particularly inspired and called to explore the experiences of women of color, and the intersectionality of identities. As Poet Laureate for the city of Tacoma, Kellie worked to ensure literary arts are both accessible to and representative of the diversity of the community.

Kellie believes her work has one purpose: to be used as a tool for liberation and healing. Sometimes through provocation or confession, other times through belly laughs or tears, Kellie works to center the beauty and power of everyday folk, and put some funk into the dread we call survival.