Join us on Wednesday, May 22 at 7pm for a night of poetry with Laura Da', author of Instruments of the True Measure, Martha Silano, author of Gravity Assist, and Kevin Craft, author of Vagrants and Accidentals.
Instruments of the True Measure charts the coordinates and intersections of land, history, and culture. Lyrical passages map the parallel lives of ancestral figures and connect dispossessions of the past to lived experiences of the present. Shawnee history informs the collection, and Da's fascination with uncovering and recovering brings the reader deeper into the narrative of Shawnee homeland. Images of forced removal and frontier violence reveal the wrenching loss and reconfiguration of the Shawnee as a people. The body and history become lands that are measured and plotted with precise instruments.
Surveying and geography underpin the collection, but even as Da' investigates these signifiers of measurement, she pushes the reader to interrogate their function within the stark atrocities of American history. Da' laments this harsh dichotomy, observing that America's mathematical point of beginning is located in the heart of her tribe's homeland: "I do not have the Shawnee words to describe this place; the notation that is available to me is 40°38´32.61´´ N 80°31´9.76´´ W."
Laura Da' is a poet and public school teacher. A lifelong resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da' studied creative writing at the University of Washington and the Institute of American Indian Arts. She is Eastern Shawnee. Her first book, Tributaries, won a 2016 American Book Award. In 2015, Da' was a Made at Hugo House Fellow and a Jack Straw Fellow. She lives near Seattle with her husband and son.
Gravity Assist, the newest collection by Martha Silano, masterfully measures the heights and depths of our earthly visions. Cerebral yet meditative, capacious yet focused, this book soars with investigations and ruminations, love letters, origin stories, and notes on gravitational forces both literal and metaphorical.
Through her usual nimble style, Silano deftly weaves the humanistic and the cosmic, delivering a series of up-close and personal examinations of phenomena as far flung as copepods, nebula, trilobites, preening cormorants, or, "Reaching out to soothe you, /the twisted arms of the last of three species of endemic /sea stars ripping themselves apart, arms crawling away in opposite directions, insides spilling out."
Martha Silano is the author of What the Truth Tastes Like, Blue Positive, The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception (winner of the 2010 Saturnalia Books Poetry Prize, an Academy of American Poets Noted Book of 2011 and a Washington State Book Award finalist), and Reckless Lovely. Her poems have appeared widely, in such places as The Paris Review, North American Review, Ploughshares, Kenyon Review Online, American Poetry Review, and in The Best American Poetry 2009. Martha teaches at Bellevue College.
Vagrants & Accidentals, the second full-length collection from poet Kevin Craft, is part vade mecum, part songbook, whose taut lines and adaptable stanzas traffic in the personal effects of emigration and estrangement, exile and return. In ornithology, a vagrant or accidental is a bird that appears out of its natural or normal range, blown off course by a storm, or inadvertently introduced into a new environment by human trade. Likewise, Craft is interested in things taken out of context--Greek myths in the Pacific Northwest, the potsherd or megalith stranded in a museum, excess carbon in the atmosphere, American pop songs in a Roman piazza, adoptions, estrangements, dangerous migrations, the constant shuffle of human beings from place to place--asking how we reorient ourselves in the crossfire of constant, rapid, global transformation.
Organized into four parts, the collection moves from the deeply personal to more global issues of interconnectedness. In language intensely lyrical, grounded in prehistory and science, Craft evokes questions of family and belonging that underscore a lifetime, gradually revealing the forces that shape us from the deepest reaches of time and place. As some birds sing to define their territory, so his poetry calls between the raggedness of daily life and our deeper yearning for coherence.
Listen to an interview with and readings by the author via KUOW.
Kevin Craft is the executive editor of Poetry Northwest Editions. He is the author of Solar Prominence, and editor of five volumes of the anthology Mare Nostrum. He is the director of the Written Arts Program at Everett Community College, and teaches in the University of Washington's Creative Writing in Rome Program.