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Episode 14: 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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Episode 13: 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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Episode 12: 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

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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.

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Pre-orders & Poems

Terrain 2020Guess what, friends?! We’re officially halfway to meeting our pre-order goal for Gina Hietpas’ forthcoming, debut poetry book, Terrain! Since we launched the pre-order campaign back in January, we’ve raised half our printing costs for the book! We are incredibly grateful for your show of support through pre-orders and social media love, and we’d like to say: Thank you, truly. This book would not be possible without your support, especially during this emotionally and financially taxing time.  

We still have a few months left to go before publication, which is now set for September 10, 2020, and we’re hoping you, dear readers, will continue to support Gina’s work (and the press) by pre-ordering a copy of the book if you haven’t already. If you have, please consider sharing the pre-order information with folks you think would enjoy it.

You can pre-order a copy of Terrain here.

In the meantime, here are a few poems from Terrain, by Gina Hietpas, to get you through  this Monday morning. Continue reading Pre-orders & Poems

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Now Offering: Poetry Workshop led by avery r. young

We’re pinching ourselves to make sure it’s really happening: avery r. young is headed back to Tacoma, and he’s holding a workshop with Blue Cactus Press, followed by a reading and book signing at King’s Books.

See the source image

Yup, definitely hapening. We’re excited to announce that on April 5th, Blue Cactus Press is welcoming writer, performer, educator and activist avery r. young to Tacoma in celebration of his new poetry book, neckbone. avery will kick things off by leading a small poetry workshop at 2pm at Defiance Square (a.k.a. Blue Cactus Press’ office in Tacoma).

Please note that workshop space is limited to 15 participants and registration is required. Cost for the poetry workshop is $25 per participant (registration fees go directly towards compensating the artist for his time and energy). Trust us, this will be the best $25 you ever spend.

BCP will also reserve two seats for youth poets, free of charge. Youth interested in participating must email bluecactuspress(at)gmail.com with the following information: first and last name, age, school currently attending, and a short statement explaining how participating in the workshop will benefit their artistic craft. We’ll email youth to formally offer workshop seats after reviewing submissions.

Adults can sign up for the workshop by filling out the form below AND submit payment via the “Pay Your Registration Fee” button below.

Pay Your Registration Fee

$25.00

Following the workshop, avery will hold a poetry reading and book signing at King’s Books at 5pm on the same day (April 5). The reading is FREE and open to the public. If you’ve never seen avery perform, you will be blown away. Do not miss this opportunity to see a nationally recognized and bomb-ass poet, activist and performer lay it down on the mic right here in Tacoma, or to create poems with him at the workshop! 

In the meantime, check out one of avery r. young’s performances here. 


About avery r. young:

Interdisciplinary artist avery r. young is a 3Arts Award winning teaching-artist, composer and producer with work that spans the genres of  music, performance, visual arts and literature. Examining and celebrating Black American history and culture, his work also focuses in the areas of social justice, equity,  queer identity, misogyny and body consciousness. As a writer, this Cave Canem alum has work featured The Breakbeat Poets, Coon Bidness, to be left with the body and Make Magazine.  He has also written curriculum and essay on arts education which appear in Teaching Artist Journal and A.I.M. Print.  Dubbed “sunday mornin jook joint,” his performance and work in sound design merges spiritual and secular aesthetics with dramatic and comedic sensibilities. He has performed in the Hip Hop Theater Festival, Wordstock and Lollapalooza. Has recorded with house producers Anthony Nicholson, Charlie Dark and is featured on recordings such as, New World Reveal-A-Solution, Audio Truism, Catfish Haven’s Devastator and New Skool Poetiks.  His new full-length release, booker t. soltreyne: a race rekkid,  features songs and other sound designed created during his artist residency with the University of Chicago’s Arts and Public Life initiative.  It was during this residency that he worked worked on sound design and concrete poems called “cullud sign(s).” Through voice, sound, visual art and performance,  young is constantly exploring the forms and spaces in which poetry can exist. Most recently, he is the vocalist on flutist Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening (FPE Records) and his poetry is featured in photographer 3Arts Awardee, Cecil McDonald Jr.’s debut book, In the Company of Black (Candor Arts) and his first book neckbone (Northwestern University Press) will be available June 2019.  He is currently one of four directors for the Floating Museum and touring with his band avery r. young & de deacon board.

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We’re Taking Pre-Orders!

That’s right, it’s officially time to pre-order your copy of our two newest poetry books:

What Us Is by Kellie Richardson (Richardson’s debut poetry collection, newly re-published with BCP and sporting a swanky new cover design)

Publication Date: March 1, 2020
Price: $17.00
Pre-order here

What Us Is offers readers a glimpse into the head space of one of Tacoma, Washington’s most respected poets, Kellie Richardson. In her debut poetry collection, Richardson turns herself inside out to let others know they’re not alone.


 Terrain by Gina Hietpas

Publication Date: August 1, 2020
Price: $17.00
Pre-order here

In her debut poetry collection, Terrain, self-taught poet and educator Gina Hietpas offers readers a way to return to the land with care and dignity. Drawing from a deep well of personal observation, connection and participation with the natural world, Hietpas’ poems explore themes of allyship, care, and ultimately, healing. 


Why Pre-Orders Matter

🌵 When community members pre-order a book from an independent bookstore, booksellers are better able to gauge market interest and order accordingly. In turn, this helps small publishers (like us) determine how many books to print before we launch, gain traction with regional audiences, and spur initial book sales.

🌵 Pre-ordering books also helps authors by increasing their odds of making it onto bestseller lists, potentially opening doors for future book contracts, and increasing their rankings on Goodreads and other influential literary sites. All of these are important components for an author’s long-term market success. 

 🌵 Lastly, when community members pre-order books directly from publishers, we’re able to ensure we have enough capital to cover printing costs (one of the biggest expenses of a book’s production costs), and focus on other aspects of publishing (like setting up cool events and readings for you, dear readers). 


With this in mind (along with your burning passion for poetry and art), we hope you’ll consider pre-ordering your books directly from Blue Cactus Press, or with your local, independent bookstore (like King’s Books). Happy reading, friends!

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Cover Reveal: The Art of Naming My Pain

We can’t keep Kellie Richardson’s book cover under wraps any longer! It’s too good to keep to ourselves, and the story behind it – and behind Kellie’s creative work in collage – is worth sharing. So, let us introduce you to The Art of Naming My Pain, a collection of prose, poetry and collage by Kellie Richardson.

The cover of is based on one of Richardson’s collage pieces, “Listen,” created in 2019 with acrylic, tissue paper and found items on canvas.

Continue reading Cover Reveal: The Art of Naming My Pain