Steven Barker is the co-founder of “Cheap Wine & Poetry” and “Cheap Beer & Prose.” In 2009 he co-edited the chapbook Hill Poems: A Collection of Capitol Hill Poetry. He is currently working on a collection of essays titled Temp that detail the wide range of short-term jobs he’s held over the past ten years. He is the host of the arts & entertainment podcast Ordinary Madness.
Project: Temp is a collection of essays based on a series of contract jobs Steve held across a fifteen-year period. The essays document his attempt at adapting to a variety of jobs, as well as the anxieties and sometimes relief that come with a job that has a clearly stated termination date. The essays also explore his views on money, how gender and race play into the workforce, and how a “temp” is treated in a major corporation compared to a full-time employee.
Alex Bleecker is a teacher and poet from New York who recently graduated from the MFA program in creative writing at the University of Washington. His chapbook Found in a Cord (Uphook Press) was published in 2006; other poems have appeared in journals including Verse, Mantis, Matter, Page Boy, Hoarse, INACTUAL, fre•quen•cy, and Shampoo. Alex co-curates the Breadline reading series, which The Stranger called “Seattle’s most consistently innovative, entertaining, and surprising reading series.” He is also a founding member of the RE DRUM poetry ensemble, which has performed at Hugo House, Vermillion, and the Lo-Fi Festival at Smoke Farm.
Project: Before his death in 1973, Pablo Neruda was working on arguably the strangest project of his career. Rather than offer wisdom-filled parting thoughts, Neruda decided to ask. The Book of Questions—seventy-four sections of imagistic, surreal, and paradoxical interrogative couplets—was published the following year. For the fortieth anniversary of Neruda’s enigmatic book, Bleecker will compose responses that emulate the compression, velocity, and instantaneity of the original text. They will serve as autonomous poetic utterances while simultaneously engaging in dialogue with the questions. As the sequence of fragments develops, themes will breach and recede beneath the materiality of the language.
Jean Ferruzola lives and works in Seattle. She holds a BA in English and Creative Writing from Colby College and an MFA in prose from the University of Washington. Her fiction has previously been published in Brevity Magazine and The Acentos Review. In 2012, her stories “Mi Gorda” and “Things Delivered” were nominated for The Seattle Review’s Grace Posner Kameros Prize. Also in 2012, she won the David Guterson Award for her MFA thesis, a collection of mixed-language short stories entitled Out of the Valley, which takes place in her hometown, the San Joaquin Valley in California.
Project: She plans on completing a draft of her first novel, tentatively titled My Brother the Murderer, which focuses on a young woman’s journey to decipher the motivations behind her brother’s impulse to kill.
Laura Da’ is a poet and a public-school teacher. A lifetime resident of the Pacific Northwest, Da’ studied creative writing at the University of Washington and The Institute of American Indian Arts. Da’ is an enrolled member of the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma. She has published poems in Prairie Schooner, Hanging Loose, The Iowa Review, and elsewhere. Her first chapbook, The Tecumseh Motel, is soon to be published in Effigies II, and the University of Arizona Press will publish her first full-length manuscript, Tributaries, in 2015. Da’ lives near Seattle with her husband and son.
Project: The purpose of this project is to create a manuscript. The impetus of this project is the lyrical examination of the diverse consequences of the mapping of the American West and the period of Indian removal. The content of the chapbook will combine poems with both narrative with lyrical elements. This blending melds the genres of poetry, fiction, and historical research. American history of surveying, geography, and cartography underpin the organization of these poems. The narrative elements trace the lives of two men, one Shawnee, the other Euro-American, as they move through the landscape of the American West.
Deirdre Lockwood has a master’s in creative writing from Boston University, and her poetry has appeared in journals including Poetry Northwest, The Threepenny Review, andYale Review. She spent a year in Iceland as a Fulbright fellow and recently received a grant from the Elizabeth George Foundation to support work on her novel in progress. A few years ago, she made regular crossings of the Pacific by container ship to collect data for her Ph.D. in oceanography at the University of Washington. She’s now a landlubber and freelance science journalist, covering the environment and health.
Project: Lockwood plans to complete her novel in progress, The Breath of Fishes. It traces 16-year-old Leif Stevens’ quest to find his mother and reunite his family. The son of high school runaways, Leif has grown up self-reliant but sheltered in the woods of eastern Washington state. When his mother suddenly leaves Leif and his father for Iceland to pursue her long-postponed dream of becoming a scientist and her obsession with climate change, Leif sets out to find her and put his family back together.