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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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NEW Call for Submissions

Hello, readers and writers! We wanted to share some BIG news! Blue Cactus Press is now accepting submissions from Women of Color (gender non-conforming and women identifying individuals of Color included) for an anthology of non-fiction creative writing highlighting and uplifting the voices of Women of Color (WoC) in the greater Tacoma area.

The anthology will be published in Winter 2021 and will be created with support from the Tacoma Women of Color Collective (TWCC), an organization working to cultivate spaces for professional WoC to nurture community, collaborate, and share professional, educational and life resources. All contributors whose work is accepted for publication will receive a $50 stipend and a copy of the anthology upon publication.

To Qualify for Submissions, Interested Writers Must:

  1. Identify as a WoC, to include gender non-conforming and women-identifying individuals of Color
  2. Produce creative works in and/or reside in the greater Tacoma area

Submission Guidelines:

Submissions should be non-fiction, to include (but not limited to) essays, poetry, or content addressing social/cultural issues faced in our community and/or lived experiences. Works that demonstrate a potential to inspire community dialogue and/or shed light on lived experiences often ignored by mainstream culture and media are highly encouraged. 

  • Submissions should be sent in a single document (.pdf, .docx or .doc format) in 12 point, times new roman font
  • Poetry Submissions may include up to 3 poems, but must be 10 pages or less. 
  • Essays and narrative work must be 10 pages or less.
  • Please include a short bio and contact information (full name and email address) along with your submission. 

Submissions should be emailed to BlueCactusPress@gmail.com with the phrase “WoC Anthology Submission” in the email subject line. 


*This call for submissions will remain open until December 20, 2020. Writers whose work is accepted for publication will be notified in January 2021. 

**Simultaneous submissions are permitted, so long as you let us know where your work is already being considered. Please include this information in the body of your email. 

 *** By submitting your manuscript to Blue Cactus Press, you are guaranteeing its content is your own, original work and is not plagiarized, borrowed or reproduced from other sources. 

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“Community Partnerships” Launch

We thought we’d take a few minutes to bring you up to speed, dear readers, about who and what we’ve been up to all year! As you already know, we’ve been working on crafting books all year (duh), but not just our own! We’ve also been working with self-published authors to help them publish and market their own books, on their own terms, for several years.

We provide editorial, design, and project management services to authors whose work aligns with our values and goals as a publisher, which are to craft books that inspire dialogue about the undercurrents of humanity, to build local economy, and to uplift and honor voices and stories from underrepresented groups in our communities.

And because we’re hustling, trying to make our way in the publishing industry as a BIPOC and Queer-owned (and centered) business, we are excited to share a new development: we’re now working with several authors whose books we’ve helped shape to sell their books right here at bluecactuspress.com and at local markets! We encourage you to check out these books on our Community Partnerships page. Two authors we’re featuring now are Lawrence Garrett, author of The Equity Starter Kit, and Philip “Sharp Skills” Jacobs, author of You Are the Solution.

We are proud to have worked with these authors – both of whom are community leaders and small-business powerhouses – on their books, and to partner with them in making their books more widely accessible to audiences. If you feel called to the work, please consider purchasing a copy of their books. Doing so supports their presence and impact in our community, and that of Blue Cactus Press in the process.

About Our Community Partners

Lawrence Garrett is considered a modern-day cultural savant. Known by many for his knack of decoding cultural behaviors that either support or undermine values and performance, Lawrence has grown a reputation for getting to the heart of the matter by identifying specific behaviors that are directly impacting business outcomes. Over the last 15 years,  Lawrence was able to hone these skills through his current consulting practice, Eight-Twenty-Eight, LLC., focusing on Leadership and Inclusion in the greater Pierce County area, his prior role as Executive Director of Advancing Leadership, as well as his numerous partnerships and consultative work with various non-profits within the community.

Philip “Sharp Skills” Jacobs is a hip-hop artist, author, business consultant, and speaker. He is the author of Accuracy: A Guide to Living Skillfully and Successfully in Today’s Crazy Times (2014), and his music has been featured in television shows including Sons of Anarchy, America’s Next Top Model, The Mindy Project, Castle, Bones, Nakita, Signed and more.  Philip earned his bachelor’s degree in business administration from Seattle Pacific University and he was the recipient of the institution’s prestigious Medallion Award in 2019. He is passionate about equipping creative leaders to realize their full potential and leave a positive impact on the world. He lives in University Place, Washington, with his wife, Menzelle, and two sons. Find him online at The Sharp Skills.


Make sure to check back at our Community Partnerships page periodically to see who we’re adding to our roster of engaged, impactful community members and books!

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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

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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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It’s Your Country, Too

A conversation with authors Yousef Allouzi & Samuel Snoek-Brown about writing, publishing, and co-creating

With the launch of The Bedouin by Yousef Allouzi and There Are No False Alarms by Samuel Snoek-Brown right around the corner, we couldn’t resist the opportunity to give readers a deeper understanding of the how’s and why’s behind the paired chapbooks and their authors. So, we asked Yousef and Sam to chat with us about their writing, the publishing process, and their relationship as writers and co-conspirators. Enjoy, friends!


Yousef Allouzi, “It’s Your Country, Too”

Q: Yousef, your essay centers on heritage and reconnecting with your family, but it also touches on racial profiling and discrimination in the U.S. Will you talk about how those themes intermingle in your writing and personal life?

A: The intermingling of heritage and family with discrimination and racial profiling has always been a part of my life.  From the time I was young, I was very aware that being Arab-American was drenched in stigma, whether it be the “t word” (terrorist) or the general portrayal of Arab-Americans in pop culture and television.  I lived much of my youth ashamed of my heritage. I liken it to the feeling of being poor.  I can remember the first time I visited a kid’s house in a gated community back in Texas.  I felt like I shouldn’t be there. No matter how many showers you take, or how expensive the clothes you are wearing, you don’t feel like you belong. So, naturally, I try and let those feelings seep into my writing. 

Q: What do you hope readers take away from reading your essay?

A: The American story is a story of diversity. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. It’s your country too.  It’s become somewhat of a cliché, but history has a way of repeating itself. Our country has a very fickle relationship with civil rights during conflict, and the fallout of 9/11 was no different. 

Continue reading It’s Your Country, Too
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Virtual Book Launch & Reading Is a Go!

We’d like to invite you to join us on Monday, July 20 at 7PM, for a short, digital reading and book launch for Yousef Allouzi and Samuel Snoek-Brown! Both authors will read from and answers questions about their newly published chapbooks, which are launching the same day!

REGISTER  FOR THE EVENT (registration is required!) by emailing bluecactuspress@gmail.com.

The Bedouin by Yousef Allouzi and There Are No False Alarms by Samuel Snoek-Brown will publish in tandem as part of the Blue Cactus Press Chapbook Series, which pairs emerging writers with an established author who mentors them through the publishing experience. Find out more about the chapbooks (and pre-order your copy) here. 

During the launch event, the authors will read from their work, answer questions about the publishing process, and dive into the ins and outs of their creative work for audience members. Please join us in celebration and support of these two, phenomenal authors!

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Tashawn Deville

Prickly Pear Podcast Episode 11: Tashawn Deville

Hello there. Its been a hell of a year so far, friends, but we’re doing our best to keep moving forward and to do so as community members with a standing responsibility to fight for social justice and ending institutionalized racism. In a beautiful synthesis of timing and energy, we just finished our newest podcast episode, The Prickly Pear Podcast, Episode 11: Tashawn Deville.

This episode features spoken word poetry Tashawn is known for around town. The incredible poem Tashawn chose to share, “AmeriKKKa,” was inspired by “the many social inequalities and injustices that I and many People of Color face,” says Deville. 

Hit play and listen to Tashawn’s poetry (seriously, listen). And if you enjoy her work and find value in it, please donate to her directly via Cash App, at $heypaymeh.


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.