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.
So you want to know this place? Be up at dawn,
when first light brushes the sky beyond the grove
of madrones you call the seven sisters.
Don’t whine. Learn by exposing yourself
to the dark and cold.
I sleep in the blackberry tangle edging the hayfield,
my thorn fortress warmed by southern light.
Every fall, glossy fruit hangs outside my door. Breakfast.
There’s the pioneer orchard, trees gnarled,
apples like knobs, but I tell you – nothing like a feast
of field mice and fallen apples.
It’s a quick lope along the fence to the ravine.
Good mousing by the cedar posts
bunched with grass and ragged leaves.
Listen. The water, eighty feet below,
roars with yesterday’s rain.
Stick with me!
I’ll show you persistence and the art of pounce.
Watch me shrug off disappointment.
In solitude you learn your story.
Only then can you riff on the moon.
I Take My Chances with a Seasonal Man
by Gina Hietpas
There was a time, your green shirt ripe
with herring roe was pungent comfort.
You, gone again for the salmon run.
Me, city bred, newly wed
plunged into cold water living:
prime the pump, lime the privy, sliver kindling.
I polish the cook stove’s blue porcelain door,
such a fine Wedgewood,
tidy the drawers of the kitchen hutch,
first date receipts, errant buttons, string too short to save,
a clutch of mismatched dice.
Shake for luck and roll.
Stuck, I scour the sour whiff of mushrooms,
grey decay crouched in corners.
I must not cower.
Alone. Trim the wicks, light the lamps.
Feed the fire. Listen to coyote chatter.
Riffing on the Moon
by Gina Hietpas
A full moon rides the scruffy sky.
Restless as incoming tide, I wander,
room to room, in raw pursuit of sleep.
Led by mosaic light, I step into the yard
to breathe frost and stars
and expanded space.
A coyote yips an opening chord.
The pack jubilates – howling tremolos,
braided barks, a high descant.
Across the valley another band accepts the challenge,
riffs with alto warbles, solo yelps,
a running keen.
Echoing pitches volley, a call and response
of boundaries and bonds.
As the canticle fades, final alpha barks
dissolve all illusion of aloneness.
Gina Hietpas is a self-taught poet, born and raised in Tacoma, Washington state. Nowadays, she lives outside Sequim, WA, 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. The opportunity to be a back-country ranger for several seasons shaped her connection to wilderness. Professionally she was a middle school teacher for twenty five years. 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.
Over the last few months, the folks behind Blue Cactus Press (including myself, the publisher, our authors, intern and new conspirators) have kept our heads down and our hands deep in the weeds of publishing work. Today we’re coming up for air, and we’ve got big news to share with you, our much-loved community. Read all about it below!
We broke-up with Amazon
Over the last two and a half years, we’ve learned a lot about the publishing industry, what we can do to conduct business ethically, and how best to support other businesses in the publishing chain. We’re still learning, but one thing we’ve known for a while is that when we utilize Amazon’s services – as a print-on-demand and sales platform – we aren’t serving anyone well. Sure, Amazon is cheap and fast, but every time we utilize it for publishing purposes, we take business away from printers and independent bookstores, no to mention severely lower profits for authors, artists, designers, editors, and our company. So, we’ve officially pulled our titles from all Amazon platforms. Doing this will allow us to better support other small businesses in the industry, including independent bookstores, printers, artists, designers and of course, authors.
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.