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Cover Reveal: Red Earth by Esther Vincent Xueming

We’d like to introduce you to the lovely and whimsical cover of Esther Vincent Xueming’s debut poetry collection, Red Earth. The artwork utilized in the cover was created by Singapore artist Shu Yin. To give readers a sense of how the cover art came to be, and a peek into the artistic viewpoints of Esther and Shuyin, we interviewed them both earlier this month. Scroll down to immerse yourself in Red Earth‘s dreamy book cover and author and artist interviews!

An Interview with Esther Vincent Xueming

Christina Butcher (Publisher): Esther, will you talk about how the artwork for Red Earth intersects with your poetry? 

Esther Vincent Xueming (EVX): The cover art for Red Earth masterfully captures the duality of my poems, and the search for harmony and balance—of wakefulness and dreams, of memory and imagination, of darkness and light, of the conscious and subconscious. The circle motif in the centre of the cover represents night and day, moon and earth, air and water. I wonder if this was intentional on the part of the artist, Shu Yin, but I notice that most of the elements on the cover are predominantly feminine! The moon and earth are commonly associated with the female body, the water with emotions and the sacral chakra, and night with yin energies. The whale for me is a keeper of time, and the moth a signifier of transcendence.

Coincidentally (Shu Yin did not know this), I am a sun in Cancer, ruled by the moon, and a moon in Taurus, grounded by the earth, and so the cover image (half moon, half earth) is particularly resonant for me. I also love how Shu Yin draws our attention to the moon and earth, which are recurring symbols in my poems of light, desire and grounded-ness. My poems deal with themes of the earth, woman, body and memory, among others, and I think Shu Yin manages to encapsulate the feminine energy of my poems on her cover art in a subtle, evocative way.

CB: What drew you to Shu Yin as an artist?

EVX: I first found out about Shu Yin through The Tiger Moth Review, the eco journal that I edit. She sent in some work, Tribute to Inuka and Singapore Mermaids which are featured in Issue 2, and since then, I have fallen in love with the way she works with watercolors. When Blue Cactus Press picked up my work for publication, I knew immediately I wanted Shu Yin to design my cover art.

Her style is gentle and thoughtful, and there is a softness and optimism that appeals to me. I’m someone who tends to see the positive, hopeful side of things and who remains open and curious to nature, and so maybe that’s why I’m drawn to her work, which I think does all of that. As a woman artist and art therapist who works with nature and the community, I appreciate her sensitivity and careful attention to the work that she does.

At the same time, Shu Yin is a versatile artist as her portfolio will show. What I like about her art is her feminine style and how she as a person is very much in tune with female, lunar and earth energies, as her cover art of Red Earth will reveal.

CB: What do you hope readers take away from this book?

EVX: I hope that readers will take away exactly what they need to and what the book is able to offer them, and that might mean different things for different readers, or the same reader reading it at different points in their life.

I know that doesn’t seem to answer the question, but just as Red Earth was a searching and journeying for me, a tunnelling deep into my memories, subconscious, dreams and imaginings, entering into different states of consciousness, traversing geographies and moving in time and place in order to make sense of home and the self on earth, I hope Red Earth does something of the sort for the reader—makes them contemplate and re-evaluate their place on earth.

Red Earth is also a dedication to the earth, my first mother, and so I’m hoping readers will learn to see the earth anew through my poems, and be inspired to find their own unique ways of singing to the earth in gratitude, humility and love.

CB: What has been the most surprising aspect of this design and editorial process for you?

EVX: I think I’ve just been so pleasantly surprised at the congeniality with which we have all been able to work together. The publisher Christina of Blue Cactus Press has been every writer’s dream to work with, and I love her consultative and collaborative approach to the design and editorial process. I am so thankful for the way she has created an environment of openness, respect and appreciation.

Early on, I also specified to Christina that as far as possible, I wanted to work with women on the team, to grow and support women in the traditionally male-dominated sphere of publishing. I’m grateful to be able to be a part of such a publishing model, and I believe that this environment—one of support, solidarity and kinship—is what will make Red Earth, my debut, even more special upon its release.


An Interview with Shu Yin

CB: How did you come up with the concept for the cover art of Red Earth? Can you talk a bit about the creative  process?

SY: The process was pretty organic. When the publisher and writer first engaged me, they provided examples of my artwork which they liked as reference for the preferred style of the cover art. I read the poems in the book, and drew sketches of images that came to mind. Some strong imagery related to individual poems surfaced, and I tried piecing some of the elements together into a single composition. I came up with a few concepts, then sought feedback from both the publisher Christina as well as the writer Esther. In the end, the sensual visuals of the red earth from Esther’s poem were prominent for me. Contrasting with the fiery red earth, was the subdued moon which represented the ‘yin’ and subconscious, themes that consistently recurred throughout the book.

CB: As an artist whose medium is primarily drawing/painting, do you think there are parallels between creating art on the easel and poems on the page?

SY: Yes, definitely. Both the artist and poet are channeling the drive to create, using their specific media – the paint and words respectively. We are all expressing and bringing to life our personal inspiration and ideas, which are a part of us but also more than us, the collective subconscious. The creative process is a state of flow through which the subconscious is brought to the surface and externalized. The media we are using are tools that come with their own characteristics and limitations. I feel there is an element of surrendering to the creative process and what it needs to be brought to life. We are also presenting a part of ourselves, which can be very personal, to the viewer to ‘consume’, and once it’s out there, how it is perceived by the viewer is beyond our control.

CB: Can you talk a little bit about making artwork for a book cover, specifically? Did  it change how you approached the artmaking journey?

SY: I had admired Esther’s work with the The Tiger Moth Review, a pioneer in Singapore curating literary and visual art works on nature. When she approached me, I was honored and eager to create the cover for her debut book of poetry. It is my first time creating artwork to be published on a book cover and also my first time formally collaborating with Christina and Esther (apart from The Tiger Moth Reivew). It certainly helped that the poems were enjoyable to read and I could resonate with them. For the artwork, it was important for me that all partners were satisfied with it. I valued their feedback and it was also affirming that my collaborators were open minded to my suggestions and trusted my artistic vision. Art creation can be heavily influenced by one’s collaborators. It was heartening that we have similar values and ideals, and they were supportive of the kind of art I create.

CB: What drives you to create? What pushes you to try new techniques or start working on a new piece of art?

SY: Creating is an integral part of my life whether it’s for commissions or personal expression. It’s an embodied thing, not just cerebral, and I don’t have an external material ‘why’ as a reason for creating or trying new techniques apart from it being an intrinsic need. It keeps me happy and I feel it’s a natural part of being alive. As long as I’m able, I would be curious and want to create or try new ways of creating. Creating puts one in a flow state where we’re right here and now in the present moment, instead of worrying about the past or future. It also produces happy chemicals in the brain like dopamine, and lowers the stress hormone cortisol. Creating helps me process thoughts and emotions about things that happened, and imagine new possibilities. What we can imagine, we can materialize. Furthermore, as my life can be socially isolated, sharing art on social media helps me stay connected with people who view and comment on my art. I feel touched, understood and connected when I hear that others resonate with what I have made. As for what pushes me to try new techniques or start a new piece, I think it depends on what I need at that moment. Sometimes, I need to do the same thing to ground myself, and sometimes, I need to do something different. It’s about staying curious, aware and sensitive to what is needed at that point in time.


Readers based in the U.S. can pre-order Red Earth here. Readers based in Singapore can pre-order Red Earth from Pagesetters in August 2021. Red Earth is a joint publication between Blue Cactus Press and Pagesetters. It is a cross-cultural collaboration in a time of heightened border controls.


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Entangled Empathy Poetry Workshop

Earlier this month, Red Earth author Esther Vincent facilitated the Entangled Empathy writing workshop, which delved into ecofeminism and the intersectional self in poetry. It was an insightful and thought-provoking workshop, and we are excited to have captured it on video! If you missed the workshop, hit play below and dive in!

ABOUT THE WORKSHOP FACILITATOR

Esther Vincent Xueming is the editor-in-chief and founder of The Tiger Moth Review, an independent eco journal of art and literature based in Singapore. She is co-editor of two poetry anthologies, Poetry Moves (Ethos Books, 2020) and Little Things (Ethos Books, 2013), and Making Kin, an ecofeminist anthology of personal essays by women writers in Singapore (forthcoming, Ethos Books). Red Earth, Esther’s debut poetry collection from Blue Cactus Press (forthcoming Fall 2021) was a finalist for the 2020 Gaudy Boy Poetry Book Prize (New York).

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Green River Valley Book Launch

Robert Lashley’s book launch for Green River Valley was powerful and surprisingly emotional (in positive ways), thanks to Robert, who shared his poems and experience in the editorial process, and guests Jodi Poorwill, Graham Isaac, and Kellie Richardson!  Watch the video below, then scroll down for some cool BONUS CONTENT from Robert!

BONUS CONTENT: 10 Books That Influenced Green River Valley

Fans of Robert will be delighted to know he put together a reading list of 10 books that influenced Green River Valley! Read below to get a sense of who and what had an impact on Robert and his writing over the years!

1: The Panther And The Lash by Langston Hughes

A lost classic of African American poetry, written as a homage to the Harlem that never ignored him long after chic poetry movements did.

2: Blacks by Gwendolyn Brooks

Schooled in the modernists and the Harlem renaissance poets, adept in tight forms and ornate Jacobean blank verse, Brooks made her people, city, and block in Brownsville as eternal as any poet’s in the living world.

3: Field Work by Seamus Heaney

Heaney is one of world poetry’s great adults, stylists, and working class heroes. He wrote about Ireland in such a beautiful, universal, and precise way that made a ghetto nerd from 23rd and G see himself in it.

4: Morning, Paramin by Derek Walcott

Where Walcott ends his remarkable (if flawed) career with one of the strongest books of poems he’d ever written; a lean, exact, and gorgeous collection immersed in nothing but the fundamentals of his gifts.

5: Desolación (“Despair”) by Gabriela Mistral

Mistral wrote about motherhood, poverty, folklore, and layers of oppression; and did so in poems so impressive that much of the world was compelled to take notice.

6: View With A Grain Of Sand by Wisława Szymborska

For my money, Szymborska is poetry’s great misanthropic philosopher; and like every great misanthrope, the sharpness of her wit was that wall that guarded a heart affected by WWII, Stalinism, and the callowness of the human condition in a modern age.

7: American Journal by Robert Hayden

This book is an ambitious, one-man excavation of Black American history from the slave trade to present of his time, with numerous symbols of and references to Black history, culture, and folklore. Also one of English language poetry’s great stylists, with a supple ear to fuse black vernaculars with a grand, lyric, formal language.

8: Mercurochrome by Wanda Coleman

Deep blues, heavily invested in the oral tradition, no-bullshit barometer and gangsta-ass take on formalism? Wanda is like a literary parent to me.

9: Ash Wednesday by T.S Eliot

In creating a Christian conversion story, Eliot humanized his towering voice, turning from the surfeit data and darkwarter bigotries of his earlier work to a more empathetic perspective on the human condition.

10: The House On Marshland by Louise Gluck

At first I was surprised that her nature poems didn’t have the haunted stripped down sorrow of early Frost, or the mercilessly kinetic Darwinism of Dickinson’s gangsta ass pastorals. However, that very gentle need of hers to find a way beyond the blues makes her nature imagery work for me.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Robert Lashley is a writer and activist whose  was a 2016 Jack Straw Fellow, Artist Trust Fellow, and a nominee for a Stranger Genius Award. He has had work published in The Seattle Review of Books, NAILED,  Poetry Northwest, McSweeney’s, and The Cascadia Review. His poetry was also featured in such anthologies as Many Trails to The Summitt, Foot Bridge Above The Falls, Get Lit,  Make It True, and It Was Written. His previous books include The Homeboy Songs (2014), and Up South (2017), both published by Small Doggies Press. In 2019, The Homeboy Songs was named by Entropy Magazine as one of the 25 most essential books to come out of the Seattle area.

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Hybrid Poetry by Ching-In Chen

Hello, dear readers! This month, we’re excited to bring you hybrid poems from one of our favorite writers in Washington state: Ching-In Chen.

Ching-In Chen is a genderqueer Chinese American hybrid writer, community organizer and teacher. They are author of The Heart’s Traffic and recombinant (winner of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry) as well as the chapbooks how to make black paper sing and Kundiman for Kin :: Information Retrieval for Monsters (Finalist for the Leslie Scalapino Award). Chen is also co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities and Here Is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets. They have received fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole, Can Serrat and Imagining America and are a part of Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities. A community organizer, they have worked in Asian American communities in San Francisco, Oakland, Riverside, Boston, Milwaukee and Houston. They are currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington Bothell.

After finishing one of Chen’s poetry books, recombinant, this winter, we asked them to share more of their writing with our audiences. Lucky for us, they agreed (!) and we now have five phenomenal, hit-you-in-the-gut, hybrid poems for your reading pleasure. If you enjoy Chen’s writing, support them by purchasing one of their books at your local indie bookstore and drop them an email to tell they how amazing they are. Now, let’s get to the poems.


Still Green by Ching-In Chen

Still Green by Ching-in Chen

Pilgrimage

Flood Fathers

Flood Fathers by Ching-In Chen

Overnight Holiday

Overnight Holiday by Ching-in Chen

Emperor

Inspired by Swati Khurana & Hari Alluri

Emperor by Ching-in Chen

Photo by Cassie Mira

Ching-In Chen is a genderqueer Chinese American hybrid writer, community organizer and teacher. They are author of The Heart’s Traffic and recombinant (winner of the 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry) as well as the chapbooks how to make black paper sing and Kundiman for Kin :: Information Retrieval for Monsters (Finalist for the Leslie Scalapino Award). Chen is also co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities and Here Is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets. They have received fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole, Can Serrat and Imagining America and are a part of Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities. A community organizer, they have worked in Asian American communities in San Francisco, Oakland, Riverside, Boston, Milwaukee and Houston. They are currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences and the MFA in Creative Writing and Poetics at the University of Washington Bothell.  

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Poetry, Motherhood & Activism with 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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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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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