A Way with Words

A month for poetry

Most important events—Christmas, your birthday, National Pancake Day, etc.—just get a single notation on the calendar, and the allotment of time you spend celebrating them doesn’t typically exceed 24 hours. National Poetry Month, however, lasts through April and brings countless chances to enjoy the written word—whether read to yourself, spoken aloud or in rapt respect to those who carry the burden of the creative craft on their shoulders. Following are a few events that draw attention to those who have a way with words.

Village Books likes to put its money where its mouth is and, as such, they’re offering 20 percent off any and all books of poetry through April. But, per usual, that’s not the whole story.  A monthly Poetry Writing Group meets again April 18, and there’ll be a gaggle of locally focused poetry events sprinkled throughout the rest of the month. The first happens April 11 and features a group reading by Bellingham poets James Bertolino, Anita Boyle, Robert Lashey, and Jessica Lohafer—all of whom will have copies of their various books on hand at the store. The prolific Bertolino and Boyle will be back for a command performance April 19 to share their new collaborative collection, Lit Wads, and, come April 22, another group reading will highlight more Bellingham poets such as Caleb Barber, Emily Gordon, Jordan Hartt, Diane Henderson, Robert Hitt, Leanne Laux-Bachand, Anna Lenau, Rachel Mehl, Serena Stapish, Kami Westoff, Liz Vigmali and Jeremy Voigt. If you’re a “buy local” type, you’ll want to support your sonnet specialists. Info: 671-2626 or

Although the Skagit River Poetry Festival won’t take place again until May 2014, the movers and shakers behind the biennial celebration of prose aren’t taking time off from the written and spoken word. In addition to sending professional, published poets to classrooms throughout Skagit County every year as part of its “Poets in the Schools” program—which, since 1998, has seen more than 500 poets sharing their talents—the Skagit River Poetry Foundation will host a poetry reading April 21 at La Conner’s Museum of Northwest Art. James Bertolino—who was mentioned previously—will get in on the action, and he’ll be joined by a couple guys named Paul. Paul Hansen, a poet, painter and translator of Chinese poetry who’s recently returned from a visit to the Asia, will be on hand to share both his own works and his translated offerings. Seattle’s Paul Hunter will also be in attendance, and the poet, musician, teacher, editor and publisher will read poems that have appeared in distinguished tomes such as Iowa Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, and Poetry Northwest.. Thanks, guys. When: 3pm Sun., April 21. Where: MoNA, 121 First Ave., La Conner. Cost: Suggested donation is $10. Info:

Whether they gathered in the hallowed halls of Stuart’s Coffee House (RIP) or the Amadeus Project, Bellingham’s poetrynight has been a way for both established and unpublished poets to test—and share—their poems in public. “Poetrynight makes available the works of writers who might otherwise remain unknown and makes more accessible and applicable the culture of written and spoken language through exposure and education” is the collective’s mission statement, and, for the last 15 years, they’ve stuck to it. After a brief hiccup last month as they searched for a new space to gather, poetrynight is back in action every Monday night at the Black Drop Coffeehouse. And, even after April comes to an end and National Poetry Month is over, they’ll still be there, week after week, month after month. When: Sign up at 7:30pm every Monday. Readings start at 8pm. Where: Black Drop, 300 W. Champion St. Cost: Free. Info:

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