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Tag Archives: Bellingham


As you may (or may not) know, Luther Allen and I co-produce the SpeakEasy poetry reading series in Bellingham, Washington. Each reading is themed and tonight’s reading, Saturday, October 5, 2019, honors James Bertolino. An influential teacher and prolific writer, Jim’s poetry has been published internationally in hundreds of magazines, scores of anthologies, and dozens of books over the past 50+ years.

The reading will be fun, fast-moving, and as always, free. Please join us for SpeakEasy 26: Reading Bertolino at 7:00pm in the Encore Room at the beautiful Mount Baker Theatre in the heart of downtown Bellingham.

whale poetry

Tonight, Friday, May 3, 2019, Bellingham’s Mount Baker Theatre Encore Room will host a chorus of poetry in tribute to whales as SpeakEasy 24: For Love of Orcas celebrates the publication of a new anthology edited by Andrew Shattuck McBride and Jill McCabe Johnson to address the plight of the southern resident orcas, chinook salmon, and their extended ecosystem.

The evening’s readers/contributors include Luther Allen, James Bertolino, Anita K. Boyle, Nancy Canyon, Susan Chase-Foster, Seren Fargo, Jessica Gigot, Mary Elizabeth Gillilan, Carol Guess, Julie B. Hunter, Jill McCabe Johnson, J.I. Kleinberg, David M. Laws, Rob Lewis, Carole MacRury, Christen Mattix, Andrew Shattuck McBride, JS Nahani, Cynthia Neely, Paul E. Nelson, Sheila Nickerson, Nancy Pagh, Betty Scott, Carla Shafer, and Sheila Sondik, with additional work by Ronda Piszk Broatch, Sam Hamill, Jim Milstead, and Alina Stefanescu.

The event, which starts at 7:00pm, is free and copies of For Love of Orcas, as well as other books by participating poets, will be available for purchase and signing. Please join us if you’re in the area.

the creatures are stirring!

Can you hear the yowls and yaps, the squeals and chirps? That growling sound, the one that makes you clutch one another in your tent… that’s the sound of SpeakEasy 22: Animal Beast Creature.

The SpeakEasy poetry series returns to Bellingham on Saturday, October 20, 2018, as poets Jennifer Bullis, Elizabeth J. Colen, Paul Hunter, Jeffrey Morgan, Bethany Reid, Kimberly Roe, Ely Shipley, and Sheila Sondik explore the power of animals — persona, myth, spirit, science, and a deep wildness. The program is free and begins at 7:00pm in the Encore Room of the Mount Baker Theatre. Village Books will be on hand to sell the poets’ books. Event info on Facebook.

SpeakEasy is an occasional poetry series that emphasizes themed, audience-friendly presentations of quality poetry by Cascadia-region writers. It is produced in Bellingham, Washington, by Luther Allen, author of The View from Lummi Island, and J.I. (Judy) Kleinberg.

Come experience the animal magnetism.

one week, two readings

It’s a busy week for poetry and it’s not even fall yet! I’ll be among the readers for two terrific journals:

Tuesday, August 28, 2018, 7:00pm
Cirque Journal
Mount Baker Theatre, Bellingham, Washington

Sunday, September 2, 2018, 4:00pm
Clover: A Literary Rag

Village Books (Fairhaven), Bellingham, Washington

Both readings are free; copies of the journals will be for sale. It would be lovely to see you there!

the day after

2016-12-09 snow feetBellingham, Washington, isn’t known for snow. Memorable storms are rare enough that residents recall them by year. More typically we get a couple of doses each year accompanied by an icy blast of Arctic chill.

After a region-stalling storm prediction in October (the storm never materialized), the weather-callers have been reluctant to over-promise this week except to say that driving could be hazardous. While higher elevations received a snow-angel-worthy dumping, low-lying Bellingham got a scant half-inch overnight. The temperature is creeping up over freezing, rain is predicted, and life will soon return to winter-normal: wet.

But this morning, a wonderful quiet surrounds the house, and the locals — juncos, sparrows, chickadees — are busy with their flitting and foraging, exploring the sheltered margins of the yard and the places where fronds of spruce, juniper, or pine offer a moment’s respite from wind and cats.


Mount Baker TheatreIt would be an honor and a pleasure to see you in the audience this evening, Saturday, October 22, 2016, at the award ceremony for the 2016 Ken Warfel Fellowship. The doors open at 6:45pm and events get underway at 7:00pm. Please join me at the Mount Baker Theatre, Encore Room, 104 North Commercial Street, Bellingham, Washington. (Use the Champion Street door to enter the Encore Room.)
Okay. Now I can start getting nervous.

Felt it.

29 Dec 2015 shake mapBed is a pretty good place to be in a mild (4.8) earthquake. It’s a little like being on a boat as another boat’s wake crosses beneath. I was reading (All the Light We Cannot See) when the house gave a couple of soft squeaks — one in the front, one in the back — and then began to shake. For perhaps three seconds the house shook along an east-west axis, and I in my bed-boat listened and shook along with it. Unlike my L.A. condo, which rattled and squealed miserably every time there was an earthquake (and there were many, including Northridge), the house was quiet. My heart was less so, roused by that shot of adrenaline, ready for flight. Until it’s over, you just don’t know whether, or for how long, it will go on, or if it will ascend the scale of disaster into something epic. It took a while to get to sleep.
. . . . .
Shake map courtesy of USGS

SpeakEasy 15: Poems and Prayers for the New Year

Poems and Prayers for the New Year

SpeakEasy 15: Poems and Prayers for the New Year will give voice to the hopes, beseechments and visions — both personal and global — of a select group of regional poets. Founded in 2009 and produced in Bellingham by Luther Allen, each SpeakEasy addresses a unique perspective or theme presented through written and spoken words.

Please join us this evening: Sunday, January 18, 2015 ~ 7:00pm ~ in the Encore Room at the Mount Baker Theatre, 104 N. Commercial Street, Bellingham, Washington ~ admission is free (donations appreciated)

SpeakEasy 15 poets/readers include: Angela Belcaster | Betty Scott | Caitlin Thomson Carol McMillan | Carolyn McCarthy
Chuck Luckmann | CJ Prince | David Drummond | David Laws | Diane Cordrey | Harvey Schwartz | Jim Milstead
Jim Schmotzer | Joe Nolting | J.I. Kleinberg | Kari Galbraith | Kate Miller | Lane Morgan | Mo Dole | Lois Holub
Luther Allen | Malcolm Kenyon | Margot Lewis | Mary Gillilan | Nancy Canyon | Nancy Pagh | Paul Fisher
Peter Messinger | Phyllis Boernke | Steve Hood | Susan J. Erickson | Tim Pilgrim

poetry tonight!

Whatcom Women Words and WorksPlease join Jeni Cottrell and the Firehouse Performing Arts Center, 1314 Harris Avenue in Fairhaven (Bellingham, Washington), this evening — Friday, August 22, 2014 — as they host a reception and poetry reading for Whatcom Women Words and Works.

The exhibit, which remains on view at the Firehouse Café through the month of August, features art and poetry by Sheila Sondik, J.I. Kleinberg, Nancy Canyon and Anita K. Boyle.

The reception begins at 6:30pm, the poetry reading (in the performance space) runs 7:15-8:00pm and the reception ends at 8:30pm. Hope to see you there!

exhibit and poetry reading

Whatcom Women Words and Works

Now on view: producer Jeni Cottrell presents Whatcom Women Words & Works, an art exhibit by four Whatcom County women who are both artists and poets — Anita K. Boyle, Nancy Canyon, J.I. Kleinberg and Sheila Sondik.

Their artwork and poetry will be on display August 1-31 in the Firehouse Café, 1314 Harris Avenue in Fairhaven (Bellingham, Washington), with a reception and poetry reading open to the public on Friday, August 22, 2014. The reception begins at 6:30pm, poetry reading 7:15 – 8:00pm, reception ends at 8:30pm.

The Firehouse Café is open 7:00am to 5:30pm seven days a week.

celebrity redux

Townsend's Solitaire photo by Joe MecheThree years ago, almost to the day, a repeated thumping sound drew my attention to the living room window. A bird was hurling itself against the glass from the nearby juniper bush. Again and again.

After several weeks of this, and fruitless efforts to deter the bird, I turned to Facebook friends for help and eventually identified the bird as a Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi) – a locally-rare winter resident in the thrush family that’s normally found in higher-elevation coniferous forests. These birds (male and female) are known for their fierce defense of winter forage — my juniper bush — and will fight each other beak and claw.

“ToSo,” as the bird came to be known, attained brief celebrity. Joe Meche, avid photographer and then-president of the North Cascades Audubon Society, gave ToSo the full paparazzi treatment. Unfazed, the bird stuck around just long enough to be included in the Christmas Bird Count, then vanished.

Through the following two winters, I listened and hoped for a return visit, but, alas, no ToSo.

When I heard that signature thump on Monday, I knew immediately where to look. Indeed, ToSo has returned. It’s impossible to be certain it’s the same bird, but the likelihood of a second Townsend’s Solitaire selecting my juniper bush from all the possible local options…well…I’m voting for ToSo. (The USGS Bird Banding Laboratory doesn’t have longevity information on the Solitaire, but other thrushes have been recorded living ten or more years.)

The crazy thing, really, is that I have a relationship with this bird. Yes, of course, it’s one-way, through-the-glass. But at first light, I listen for its flutter and scratch. I stand at the window and watch it gulp down juniper berries. I enjoy its song and am dazzled by its persistence and intensity of purpose.

Maybe ToSo will stick around long enough for this year’s Count. Maybe not. But for however long the bird is here, I will be watching. Amazed. Delighted.
. . . . .
photo by Joe Meche, 11 December 2013

SpeakEasy 12: Poetry of War

SpeakEasy 11

another reading…(actually two)…

SpeakEasy 8: Cirque literary journal

Cirque, a literary journal in its fourth year of publication, is a full-color 80-page collection of writing in all genres. Cirque publishes the work of established and emerging writers from the Northwest and Alaska. It has been called “incomparably elegant and a pleasure to read.” A full-text version of each issue can be read at Cirque. Print copies can be ordered there, as well.

Poets and other writers from the pages of Cirque will be reading at two venues in Washington.

In Bellingham, on Sunday, August 12, 2012, at The Amadeus Project, 1209 Cornwall Avenue, readers include Brian Hutton, J.I. Kleinberg, Sandra Kleven, Len Kuntz, Rachel Mehl, John Morgan, Keith Moul, Tim Pilgrim and Carey Taylor.

In Seattle, on Monday, August 13th at ACT, Buster’s, 700 Union Street, readers include Christianne Balk, Janet Buttenwieser, Jacqueline Haskins, Brian Hutton, J.I. Kleinberg, Sandra Kleven, Charles Leggett, Stefon Mears, David Stallings and Carey Taylor.

Both events are set to start at 7:00 p.m. and will include a silent auction featuring ten framed artworks from the pages of Cirque. Donations appreciated.

SpeakEasy is an occasional poetry series independently produced by Luther Allen and Other Mind Press.

reading tonight!

SpeakEasy 7: Variations on a Prompt

Tonight…Friday, July 20, 2012…7:30pm
SpeakEasy 7: Variations on a Prompt

featuring Poets on Assignment: Jim Bertolino, Anita K. Boyle, Jennifer Bullis, J.I. Kleinberg and Jeanne Yeasting
The Amadeus Project ~ 1209 Cornwall Avenue ~ Bellingham, Washington
A chapbook will be available for sale (image is the cover illustration by Anita K. Boyle / Egress Studio).
The event is free…donations to The Amadeus Project are appreciated.
Please join us!


SpeakEasy 7Y’all come on down!

Jim Bertolino’s eleventh volume of poetry, titled Every Wound Has A Rhythm, is being published next month by World Enough Writers. His work has appeared in a wide range of literary magazines and anthologies, including Notre Dame Review, Poetry, Ploughshares, New Mexico Quarterly, Raven Chronicles, Clover and New Poets of the American West edited by Lowell Jaeger. His work has received national recognition through a Book-of-the-Month Club Poetry Fellowship, the Discovery Award, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, two Quarterly Review of Literature book publication awards and having two books reprinted by the Connecticut College Contemporary American Poetry Archive. Jim retired in 2006 from a 32-year career teaching creative writing and literature for colleges and universities from Cornell to Western. 2012 is the fourth year he has served as poetry judge for the American Book Award. He grew up in Wisconsin, and now lives on five Whatcom County acres with his wife, Anita Boyle.

An illustrator and graphic designer, Anita K. Boyle’s book, What the Alder Told Me, was published by MoonPath Press in 2011. She is also the author of Bamboo Equals Loon (Egress Studio Press, 2001). Her poems have appeared in literary magazines, including StringTownThe Raven ChroniclesCrab Creek ReviewCrankyIndiana ReviewSpoon River Poetry Review, Mudlark, MarginMirror Northwest, and in the anthologies Red Sky Morning and Saints of Hysteria. She lives with her poet-friend-husband, James Bertolino—who she has collaborated with on two chapbooks of poetry.

Jennifer Bullis, originally from Reno, did time in various California educational institutions and escaped, finally, to Bellingham, where she taught at Whatcom Community College for fourteen years. Currently, she writes, hikes, and tries to keep up with her six year-old son. Her poems appear in Iron Horse Literary Review, Natural Bridge, Comstock Review, Conversations across Borders, and Floating Bridge Review, and she is assembling manuscripts for chapbooks and a full-length collection of poems. She has kind of a thing for leaves.

Dave Cole lives on a cliff at the eastern edge of the Precambrian core of the Black Hills of South Dakota. He edits books for a handful of publishers, is a sculptor, and serves on the steering committee for the South Dakota Festival of Books. “Some of What I’m About to Tell You Is True,” with voice recording, has been published in Bomb magazine’s online presence, Bomblog.

J.I. Kleinberg works and plays with words. She is co-author of the book Fat Stupid Ugly: One Woman’s Courage to Survive, is a past winner in the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest and blogs most days right here at chocolate is a verb. Among other places, her writing has been accepted or appeared in Arcade; Anatomy & Etymology; Cirque; Drash: Northwest Mosaic; Flyways and Byways; Labyrinth; Phrasings; The Raven Chronicles; The Social Gardener; and Switched-on Gutenberg. She lives in Bellingham and doesn’t own a television.

A great believer in writing from prompts, even the most astonishing of ones, J.E. Yeasting is immensely grateful to be part of the On Assignment group, and to the illustrious Dave Cole for starting us on our word-rich journey. Although it is reported that she likes keeping a low profile, her writing has been published in various literary magazines and anthologies, and she is currently shaping several stacks of poems into new book manuscripts. She teaches writing at Western Washington University, where she has been sighted, several times a year, giving collaborative, multi-media poetry performances. When she’s not playing with words, you can often find her drawing and painting in dance studios or her art studio in Fairhaven.

speaking of love…

December 10

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