Ways to Celebrate National Poetry Month 2021 in Seattle

Virtual Readings and Local Subscriptions for April and Beyond
April 5, 2021
Take in poetry with your ears and eyes at the Northwest Film Forum's virtual Cadence Video Poetry Festival (April 16-25). Pictured: Thelma Tunyi and Shanley Fermin's short film "Delerium," which includes poetry by Tjawangwa Dema. (Northwest Film Forum)

April lost its title as the cruelest month when the Academy of American Poets got together in 1996 to dedicate it to the wordsmiths among us. Poetry is the perfect medium to turn to in these lonely and unstable times (and any other time!), so scroll down for upcoming virtual poetry events (like a reading with the new Washington State Poet Laureate, Rena Priest, and the Cadence Video Poetry Festival) and local journals and subscription services to check out (like bimonthly parcels from Elliott Bay and Open Books). 

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Barbara Ras & Anne Marie Macari
Barbara Ras and Anne Marie Macari will log on from the East Coast to recite favorites from their respective books of celestial-themed poems, The Blues of Heaven and Heaven Beneath (the latter of which Ross Gay calls "a book of witness and gathering"). 
(Thurs April 8)

Cadence 2021
Video poetry has been around since the late 1970s, but it's been enjoying a slight revival in a world where three-minute videos on the internet serve as our primary mode of media consumption. The region's only festival dedicated to the art form (that we know of) will partner with Northwest Film Forum again for an online program of features and shorts from over 60 international artist teams, including not one but two films inspired by Botswana-based poet Tjawangwa Dema's "Lethe." 
(April 16-25)

Celebrate The New Washington State Poet Laureate: Rena Priest
Witness the "passing of the laurel" as the American Book Award-winning poet Rena Priest (Lhaq'temish Nation) becomes the first Indigenous poet to assume the role of Washington State Poet Laureate, taking the place of outgoing WSPL Claudia Castrol Luna. 
(Wed April 14)

James Crews & Ross Gay - How To Love The World
Well-known and emerging poets alike, including Amanda Gorman, Joy Harjo, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Tracy K. Smith, offer verses to counter negativity and anxiety in this 100-poem anthology edited by James Crews and Ross Gay (whose newest essay collection, The Book of Delights, sings a similar tune). Join Crews and Gay for a release party with Third Place Books.
(Thurs April 22)

Joy Harjo: Our Songs Came Through
With nine poetry collections, a memoir, and several plays and children's books under her belt (not to mention four albums—she's also an accomplished saxophonist), Literary Arts poet laureate Joy Harjo (a member of the Muscogee Creek Nation) will read some recently published poems featured in American Sunrise, as well as excerpts from her aforementioned 2012 memoir, Crazy Brave. She'll be joined by Claudia Castro Luna, who's finishing up her second term as Washington State Poet Laureate.
(Fri April 23)

Kim Stafford with Claudia Castro Luna
Portland poet Kim Stafford, son of the poet laureate William Stafford, will read from his newest collection, Singer Come From Afar, also alongside Claudia Castro Luna. 
(Wed April 21) 

Lorde Knows #2: Poetry Reading
In conjunction with Anastacia-Reneé's current exhibition (Don't be Absurd) Alice in Parts, in which poetry plays a major role, Mahogany L. Browne, Cynthia Manick, Natasha Ria El-Scari, and avery r. young will join the Frye for an online poetry reading interspersed with their reflections on the show.
(Sat April 24)

Natalie Diaz
Award-winning poet Natalie Diaz (When My Brother Was an Aztec) reads new work and talks about her process in this pre-recorded Seattle Arts & Lectures event.
(Fri April 30)

Tamiko Beyer with Ching-In Chen and Jane Wong - Last Days
Using radical imagination to reshape our social and environmental future away from white supremacy, heteropatriarchy, corporate power, and capitalism, Tamiko Beyer's Last Days "[conjures] the bricks and mortar of [a] new world," according to public materials. She'll read some selections and chat with fellow poets Ching-In Chen (to make black paper sing) and Jane Wong (How to Not Be Afraid of Everything, forthcoming).
(Wed April 21)

Works in Progress Open Mic
This ultra-supportive but intellectually engaging environment is perfect for writers of all levels who want to tackle any form of the written word, from poetry to fiction and beyond. (The Monday-night event has moved online for the time being.)

Write with Hugo House: Jeanine Walker
Hone your generative poetry chops through prompts provided by SAL Writers in the Schools resident Jeanine Walker. By the end of the class, you'll have two to three drafts of poems to continue tinkering with. 
(Wed April 14)


Formerly called Northside Review before bifurcating its Cincinnati operation to include Seattle in 2016, this micro-press publishes fiction, nonfiction, poetry, and visual art by people from Southwest Ohio and the Puget Sound. They currently have two issues available for purchase, which includes a great lyrical flash-fiction story by E.J. Koh and poems by Sierra Nelson and Jane Wong, among other Seattle troubadours. Their submission portal is closed until next year. 

Elliott Bay Book Company
Selections from the well-curated poetry section of this Capitol Hill mainstay are available to you in a subscription service! Each bimonthly parcel ($125 for a year) includes a book of poetry chosen by a bookseller who loves it, a handwritten letter about what makes each title notable, and a custom bookmark.

Open Books
In addition to their excellent collection of over 10,000 books (including rare chapbooks and journals, as well as half-priced books) available online for curbside pickup, this Wallingford treasure also offers monthly ($250 for a year) and bimonthly ($125 for a year) subscription bundles with books chosen by staff. Each box comes with a mix of new books, old books, books in translation, and "books that may challenge your expectations of what a book of poems can be." 

Pacifica Literary Review
Locally sourced poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction, photography, and art & design comes all year round online (for free!) and in biannual print editions (available at Elliott Bay and Open Books) at this Seattle-based press. The editors promise that "sonnets and memes will receive equal consideration," so submit away if you wish. (They have a brief closure period in May, so Poetry Month is an ideal time to hit send.) 

Poetry Northwest
Founded way back in 1959 by Errol Pritchard, with Carolyn Kizer, Richard Hugo, Nelson Bentley, and Edith Shiffert, Poetry Northwest is the region's oldest literary magazine, with archival work by the likes of Joyce Carol Oates, Annie Dillard, and Raymond Carver to prove it. You can read newly published poems online, subscribe to the magazine, and submit your work twice a year (the next reading period begins in October 2021).

Wave Books
This Seattle-based publisher, founded in 2005 under Verse Press, puts out contemporary poetry, poetry in translation, and writing by poets. Keep an eye out for their next yearly seasonal subscription ($300) for limited-edition hardcovers. In the meantime, you can buy poetry books (and fiction and essays) like Mary Ruefle's A Little White Shadow, Caroline Knox's A Beaker: New and Selected Poems, and Hoa Nguyen's A Thousand Times You Lose Your Treasure directly from their website.