Worlds of Words

Skagit River Poetry Festival

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

When Daemond Arrindell leads a “Found Poetry” workshop at the tail end of the Skagit River Poetry Festival, it’ll be with an emphasis on finding creative wordplay where you least expect it—whether it’s in a science textbook, on billboards, in pop music, Yelp reviews, or in the form on graffiti on an alley wall.

Arrindell’s subject matter is fitting, as the ninth biennial extravaganza taking place May 19-22 at various venues throughout La Conner makes it easier than usual to uncover word-related wisdom. From one-on-one consultations with writers to workshops, poetry readings, mixers and more, those who visit the picturesque locale will soon discover that if it’s vivacious verse they’re after, they’ve come to the right place.

“The festival turns La Conner into a town filled with poetry—from its churches to its museums, its community center, and its bed and breakfasts,” poet Susan Rich says. “Where else can a person sleep, eat, live and breathe poetry for a spring weekend?”

If you choose to immerse yourself in the entirety of the Skagit River Poetry Festival—which is the capstone of the Skagit River Poetry Foundation’s lofty goal to bring poets to classrooms more than 120 days each year—you’ll want to arrive by 5:30pm Thursday and make your way to Maple Hall for a Poet’s Soiree, where you can mix and mingle with festival poets, sip wine and enjoy locally sourced hors d’oeuvres.

From there, zip over to the La Conner Elementary School auditorium for a “Wake Up! Speak Out” program. At the energizing event, a handful of celebrated spoken word poets such as World Poetry Slam alum Jeanann Verlee, Detroit-based poet and filmmaker Jamaal May, American-Bangladeshi poet and educator Tarfia Faizullah, Seattle Poetry Slam curator Daemond Arrindell, and Seattle Grand Slam champion Matt Gano will challenge and provoke audiences with new poetic ideas and forms.

On Friday and Saturday, the fun continues with poetry samplers, panel discussions, student events and “A Gathering of Voices,” which will see all of the festival poets be given two minutes to read one of their poems.

While Pacific Northwest wordsmiths such as Tim McNulty, Kevin Craft, Lorraine Ferra, Norman Fischer, Paul Hansen (who actually lives in La Conner), Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall, Kevin Craft, and Martha Silano will be represented, the lineup also includes some of the most diverse names in poetry.

Among those visiting from afar are four-time Pushcart Prize winner Naomi Shibab Nye, Chicana poet Lorna Dee Cervantes, former pro basketball player and Mojave Indian tribal member Natalie Diaz, aforementioned scribes Tarfia Faizullah and Jamaal May, Japanese-American poet Garrett Hongo, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Canadian writer and philospher Jan Zwicky.

By the time Sunday rolls around, you may be tempted to sleep in late and skip the final day of the festival. That would be a mistake, as it’s a chance for writers of all abilities to hone their own talents by learning from those who’ve achieved success in the field.

Whether you sign up for Arrindell’s previously mentioned “Found Poetry” primer, Kasey Jueds’ “Poetry and Silence” workshop, McNulty’s “Coaxing Poems from Nature” or one of the other classes offered, it’s a time to ponder the particulars of how words work—and what you need to do to make them work. If you’re up to the challenge, then hie thee to La Conner.

More Words...
Hope Never Dies
A bromance for the ages

Joe Biden in retirement is not a pretty picture: grouting bathroom tile, napping and watching Barack’s globetrotting adventures with the likes of Bradley Cooper and Justin Trudeau on cable television. Barack has yet to call him and he feels the sting as would a jilted lover. “No…

more »
Activism for Kids
Three ways to make a difference

Someone you know went to a march this summer.

It was a pretty big deal, and it sounded like fun. It was a time for people to gather and take advantage of their rights. It’s something you’d like to do, too, someday, and with the following three books, you’ll see how you can start…

more »
Eyes on Flint
A mystery and an expose

The toxic water supply in Flint, Michigan, which exposed as many as 42,000 children under 2 years of age to lead poisoning, was a major media story a few years back.

Ingestion of high dosages of lead, particularly among infants, results in cognitive impairment, attention and mood…

more »
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

La Cage Aux Folles

7:30pm|Bellingham Theatre Guild

The Wind in the Willows

7:30pm|Claire vg Thomas Theatre

Sin & Gin Tours

7:00pm|Downtown Bellingham, historic Fairhaven

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Brunch on the Bay

10:00am|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

Edison Farmers Market

10:00am|Edison Granary

Banned Books Week


Langar in Lynden

11:00am|Guru Nanak Gursikh Gurdwara

Brunch and Learn

11:00am|Ciao Thyme

Your Vote Counts! Block Party

12:00pm|Depot Market Square

Audubon at the Museum

1:30pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

South Side Stories

2:00pm|Historic Fairhaven

Trivia Time

3:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Waiting for the Whales

4:00pm|Village Books

Not-Creepy Gathering for People Who Are Single

6:00pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Moon Walk


Village Books
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Vendovi Tours

10:00am|Vendovi Island

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Banned Books Week


Baker Lake Cleanup Signup Deadline

8:00am|Baker Lake

Wheelchair Gangball

3:30pm|Bloedel Donovan

Monday Night Pizza

5:30pm|Ciao Thyme Commons

Books on Tap

6:30pm|El Agave 2

Open Mic Night

7:00pm|Village Books


9:00pm|Firefly Lounge

Village Books Trove Web
Eat Local Month

10:00am|Whatcom County

Boating Center Open

10:00am|Community Boating Center

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Banned Books Week


Rainbow Reads Book Club

3:00pm| Ferndale Library

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Bellingham Reads

6:30pm|Bellingham Public Library

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

Seabird Struggles

7:00pm|Whatcom Museum's Old City Hall

Beginning Square Dance Lessons

7:00pm|Ten Mile Grange

Warlbers and Woodpeckers

7:00pm|Village Books

Comedy Open Mic


see our complete calendar »

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Village Books Trove Web