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On Stage

A Way With Words

Paying attention to poetry

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

In some communities, National Poetry Month would pass with nary a mention of a sonnet, verse or a rhyming couplet. In Bellingham, however, it’s used as an opportunity to draw attention to the power of words to make a difference in our lives. Following are a few performance-related ways to enjoy the monthlong celebration.

First is Scratchpad, which can be seen at the early shows every Friday and Saturday through April at the Upfront Theatre. The premise of the returning format is simple: Poets from the Bellingham community are invited to join improvisers from the Upfront’s Mainstage ensemble to create poems that will inspire the onstage scenes. In return, those scenes will inspire the next round of poetry. In addition to giving the carefully selected wordsmiths a chance to test their improvisational talents, “Scratchpad” also lets audiences in on the magic of creative collaboration—with hilarious, and sometimes poignant, results. When: 8pm Friday and Saturdays through April. Where: 1208 Bay St.  Cost: $10 in advance, $12 at the door. Info: http://www.theupfront.com

Bellingham Repertory Dance gets in on the action, as well. The annual Phrasings: In Word and Dance will return to the stage April 11-13 at the Firehouse PAC. Members of the nearly nine-year-old dance collective will join forces with local and regional poets—including Bellingham residents Susan Chase-Foster, Harvey Schwartz, and Betty Scott, Deming’s Stephanie Hopkinson, and contributors from Anacortes, Edmonds, Nanaimo B.C., and Oregon—to present a number of works that combine both inspired choreography and clever cascades of language. If you’re in the audience at one of the three poetry-in-motion performances, you’ll also be able to witness the dancers and word-makers come together for an improvisation and free-write session. It’s a win-win situation. When: 7:30pm Fri.-Sat., April 11-12, and 5pm Sun., April 13. Where: 1314 Harris Ave. Cost: $12 for students and seniors, $15 general (the shows often sell out, so you might want to consider getting tickets earlier rather than later). Info: http://www.bhamrep.org

Those who’ve attended the weekly Poetrynight gatherings at various venues in Bellingham every Monday know that seasoned sonnet-makers don’t just read their selections—they often perform them, as well. The same goes for the upcoming SpeakEasy 14: String Theory event happening Thurs., April 24 at Village Books. “‘String Theory’ will feature five published local poets who will ‘string’ poems together based on some common element from the preceding poem,” event organizer Luther Allen says. “The common thread might be theme, topic, a word or phrase, style—something that gives birth to the selection of the next poem.” In addition to Allen, poets Sheila Sondik, Paul Piper, Nancy Pagh, and Allen Frost will sit in on the round-robin reading to entertain the masses. “We’re just about finished with the process and we’re all pretty excited about the collection,” Allen says. You should be, too. When: 7pm Thurs., April 24. Where: Village Books, 1200 11th St. Cost: Entry is free, but donations are accepted. Info: http://www.boyntonpoetrycontest.wordpress.com or www.villagebooks.com

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