Earlier this month, Blue Cactus Press sat down with poetry giants José Olivarez and Britteney Black Rose Kapri for a live podcast recording at King’s Books! José and Britteney joined The Prickly Pear podcast host, Christina Butcher, and local poet Michael Haeflinger, in a discussion about poetry, creative influences, and life as teaching artists and working writers. We also spent a fair amount of time debating the worst best movie sequels of our time, mail fraud and good-ass hot chicken. Oh, and there’s a new emcee in town by the name of Vanilla Sexy …
This episode was live-recorded at King’s Books in Tacoma, Washington state. It was sponsored by Write253, as part of the fourth annual Louder Than A Bomb (LTAB)-Tacoma teen poetry slam festival. LTAB-Tacoma took place in March, 2019, and included youth poets from 13 schools in Pierce and Thurston counties of Washington state.
Yes, I did get that from Write253’s Louder Than A Bomb Tacoma poetry slam, but listening to poetry and truly hearing the messages authors are conveying is more important than ever as our country continues to divide itself along political and racial lines. Despite our national division, I see poets, authors, musicians and artists trying to sew the gap back up with art. And I can honestly say I’m continually impressed not only the quality of their creative work, but with the strength of their messages, as well.
The impact of Tacoma’s local artistry hit me the hardest this afternoon at a post-workshop open mic hosted by Write253. The workshops and open mic were a part of the Cascadia Poetry Festival, which is happening all weekend (and includes a small press fair that yours truly will be peddling my wares at on Saturday afternoon).
Washington State History Museum
Write253’s Mike Haeflinger & Open-Mic Host
Poet Performing with Baby, like a Boss
Write253’s open mic was filled with young writers and musicians, all of whom blew me away with their performances. Students spoke with honesty and grit about alcoholism, violence, identity and race, community, friendship and politics, and they did so with a sense of abandon that I think many adults (myself included) struggle to achieve.
It was inspiring. Theywere inspiring. So I sat down to create something of my own, which I’ve been meaning to do for a while now. I went home and recorded a few poems as spoken word to share with you in the same way the young poets I heard this afternoon shared with me.
This fall and winter, I hope to record more poetry, to write new poems, and to share as much of it with you as I can. If I can swing it, I’ll record stories and poems by other local authors, as well. Listen in and let me know what you think.
More importantly, sit down and write. and share. and do it again and again and again.