Oregon’s official state poet returns By Steven Tonthat (OPB) May 11, 2022 8:42 p.m.
Oregon Poet Laureate Anis Mojgani is returning for a second tenure as the state's chief wordsmith
Courtesy Anis Mojgani
Oregon governor Kate Brown reappointed Anis Mojgani as Oregon’s Poet Laureate for a second term. Mojgani, who originally started serving in the coveted position in May 2020, will now continue through 2024.
“I applaud Anis for his creative efforts to connect with Oregonians during the pandemic,” says Governor Brown. “He now has the opportunity to travel and make the personal connections that can be so powerful. Extending his term allows him to fulfill his vision as Poet Laureate.”
When Mojgani took over two years ago, he had to navigate how to perform poetry while keeping audience members safe and socially distant.
“Some ideas were ones that couldn’t happen within a pandemic and other ones were ideas that were birthed because of being in a pandemic, but still weren’t able to come to fruition,” he says.
“It’s been a really wonderful experience for me. And it has seemed to have been a pretty wonderful experience for the people who’ve gathered to watch.”
As his tenure continued and the state’s restrictions on in-person events slowly eased, Mojgani reached out to communities beyond Portland.
“I was able to make my way to Lincoln City for one of my only in-person visits, working with some of the folks there to foster and imagine what ways poetry might be able to play a part in this new community center,” he says.
Mojgani had originally conceived the idea for the tele-poem hotline in 2020 but had to put it on hold due to the pandemic.
Now two years later, he has a second chance to finish the projects like the hotline that the pandemic brought to a halt in 2020.
“One of the projects I’ve been wanting to do since I took the position is to create something that’s rooted in poetry that’s on something as disposable and familiar as a newspaper,” he says. “Here’s this opportunity to continue doing something that I really enjoyed doing. But I also have two years’ experience of what that feels like. So any of the elements of growth to experience during the position, I know what this role entails.”
And now that the weather is starting to warm up, Mojgani even plans to return to the balcony of his Portland art studio to recite poetry once again.
“We are always surrounded by poems, even if they are not taking shape as poems. And what are the ways that we may let some of that poetry into our lives?”
A poet, writer, and former board member of the Northwest Alliance for Alternative Media & Education, Max Linden Levy, passed away in the fall of 2012. Max meant a lot to us here at the Alliance.
He was a wonderful man whose poetry and writing will endure.
Here is a small sample of his poetry.
For all we can know
The Universe begins and ends
In each of us,
In the reach of our own hands.
~From Time on Our Hands, by Max Linden Levy
The first collection of poetry by Walidah Imarisha.
Released October 2013 by Drapetomedia in conjunction with Bad Sista Press. Description
In her book Beloved, Toni Morrison describes the whip scars on a former slave’s back as a tree sprouting from her flesh. Walidah Imarisha’s first poetic collection invokes this same process of alchemy, transforming both individual and collective scars into North Stars, guideposts that center us and keep us moving in the right direction. Scars/Stars reminds us that even in ravaged earth, something beautiful can still grow.
"Love songs for freedom fighters… I think of Walidah Imarisha's work as medicine for the masses. The imagery, the heart and the life experience in these poems are like tears mixed with gasoline, spark a fire." - Gabriel Teodros, emcee and writer
“Scars/Stars is Walidah Imarisha at her poetic revolutionary finest. Her life's odyssey takes one to the stars - and through the scars - on a quest for love and struggle that literally takes the breath away. It is a masterpiece that you simply must have.”
– Sundiata Acoli, writer and political prisoner
“Tenacious in her political commitment and steadfast in her belief of new possibilities, Walidah Imarisha is a voice that cannot be quarantined or categorized. Imarisha’s Scars/Stars is a testament to a new wave in the poetry of resistance; read her, hear her, join her song!” - Matthew Shenoda, author of Seasons of Lotus, Seasons of Bone
Did ya have the bases covered
From atop your pitcher’s mound
When a flyball left of center
Tipped the glove and hit the ground?
Walkin’ round the corner
Not a worry in the air,
When up came winter’s icy grip,
Stopped your tracks,
And brought on stare?
Paralyzed, but full of hope,
Did ya stand there and just choke,
Cheersing to your withered ghosts?
Lost in eyeball light reflections
Saying you were some sorta perfection
When the ground gave out at last?
Faithful and hardworking
Never done your neighbor wrong
Did they smote your life
Your lovely wife
And take away your health?
Watching stars from out the gutter
Feeling glued upon the sand
Soaring high above the others
Lighting puts you on the land
Thunder rumbles and you cower
Remember days of better had
When money, sex and lots of drugs
Meant a good night with your lads
How was it that they bent you?
A question you couldn’t ask?
A place you couldn’t overtake?
An ass you couldn’t tap?
Get back up you asshole,
This world is meant for living.
Get back up you jackass,
There’s everything to see.
Were those the lines that seemed so fine
You couldn’t believe you couldn’t be?
Words wrap around our fingers
Heads and shoulders
Knees and toes
And whether late or never
Undesired or early show,
Right on time for another’s party
Simply trying to walk the line
You’ve got same in with humanity
As the gurus and the fine:
Those miraculous bursts of sunlight,
Still make it to your eyes.
What is poetry slam?
Simply put, poetry slam is the competitive art of performance poetry.
It puts a dual emphasis on writing and performance, encouraging poets to focus on
what they're saying and how they're saying it.
Hey all you poetry lovers,
We had a great reading at the Tiger last month, with a bunch of outstanding open mic readers and the visceral imagery and profound performance skills of Kyle David Congdon. Thanks so much to everyone who publicized, attended or participated in the event.
On Thursday October 20 at 7pm at Paper Tiger Coffee (703 Grand Blvd. in Vancouver, located about a mile east of I-5 between Mill Plain and Evergreen Blvd) we will be featuring the hallucinagenic verse of Dan Raphael. I've been to 2 of Dan's performances and was not only thoroughly entertained but highly impressed with his surreal yet accessible verse, and his remarkable takes on the environment, the economy and the socio-political milieu. Dan says; I've been at this awhile, so numbers look impressive (published in over 300 places, given over 200 readings), but what matters is the now and I am, in my way, active and delivering.
Impulse & Warp: The Selected 20th Century Poems, with work from my first 13 collections, came out a year ago: Children of the Blue Supermarket, a CD of performances weith saxophonist Rich Halley and drummer Carson Halley, was released this spring: a book of newer poems, The State I'm In, comes out 2/29/12. Current poems appear in Rattapallax, Otoliths, Raft, Skidrow Penthouse and Caliban. I've performed at places like Wordstock, Bumbershoot, Powell’s, Eastern Oregon U, Burning Word, Pacific Crest Alpaca Farm and the Portland Jazz Festival. Currently organizing the Market Day reading Series at St Johns Booksellers, I also ran a monthl series in downtown Portland for 13 years, and made Poetland--80 poets reading in 8 venues over an 8 hour period.
I pay for my life and art working for the Oregon DMV. Otherwise I read mostly fiction and non-fiction, read too much news, hang out in deep Southeast Portland with Melba and 400 plant varieties.
So I really hope to see all of you on the Third Thursday of October for great poetry, great company and fine beverages. This will be our first event with the new owners of Paper Tiger, Kenny and Sue Grijalva, so be sure to come and welcome them to the business and show them how much The 'Couve loves its poetry and coffee. I'll leave you with a short piece by dan Raphael to whet you appetite for this month's reading. See you there!
if rupert murdoch believes something
if wall street wants to roll 1-sided dice
congress and/or parliament will sing harmony :
if science and history are on sale what about all other non-experiential truths:
just cause its on tv, on the web, in a newspaper--how did it get there?
do everything you can to save the libraries full of books.
you cant change books, you have to burn them