Poetry’s Possible Powers: A Reading and Conversation
For the West Coast debut of her memoir Poetry’s Possible Worlds, Lesley Wheeler leads a reading and discussion about what reading and writing poetry can do for individuals and communities. According to cognitive scientists, the experience of “literary transportation”—getting lost in a book—can change a person, starting with small physical alterations in heartrate and respiration, but sometimes extending to transforming attitudes. The artistic experience of “flow” has parallel effects; a regular practice of expressive writing can calm and sometimes even heal. Washington State Poet Laureate Rena Priest along with Jeannine Hall Gailey, Mita Mahato, Martha Silano, and Lesley Wheeler will share their own poems and poems by others, reflecting on how reading and writing help them cope with challenges including health crisis, environmental emergency, and personal and historical trauma.
Rena Priest appears courtesy of the Washington State Poet Laureate's Office, supported in part by Washington Humanities and the Washington State Arts Commission.
Martha Silano is the author of five poetry books, including Gravity Assist, Reckless Lovely, and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, all from Saturnalia Books. Her poems have appeared in Poetry, New England Review, American Poetry Review, and Paris Review, among others, and in four dozen print anthologies, including American Poetry: The Next Generation and ?Best American Poetry 2009. She also co-authored, with Kelli Russell Agodon, The Daily Poet: Day-By-Day Prompts for Your Writing Practice. Martha received Yaddo's 2017 Martha Walsh Pulver Residency. She teaches at Bellevue College.
Jeannine Hall Gailey
Jeannine Hall Gailey is a poet with multiple sclerosis who served as the 2nd Poet Laureate of Redmond, Washington. She's the author of six books of poetry: Becoming the Villainess, She Returns to the Floating World, Unexplained Fevers, The Robot Scientist’s Daughter, Field Guide to the End of the World, winner of the Moon City Press Book Prize and the Elgin Award, and the upcoming Flare, Corona from BOA Editions. She has a B.S. in Biology and M.A. in English from the University of Cincinnati and an MFA from Pacific University. Her work appeared in The American Poetry Review, Ploughshares, and Poetry. Her web site is www.webbish6.com. Twitter and Instagram: @webbish6.
Mita Mahato is a cut paper, collage, and comix artist and educator living in Seattle. She assembles fragments of used and discarded materials in poetic experiments that dramatize entangled processes of death and renewal, specifically within the context of ecosystemic loss under capitalism. Her collected book of poetry comix, In Between, is listed in The Best American Comics: The Notable Comics of 2019. Other works are published in Iterant, Shenandoah, Coast/No Coast, ANMLY, AModern, Illustrated PEN, and Drunken Boat, and her current book-in-progress is supported by a CityArtist Project Grant from the Seattle Office of Arts and Culture. She is a Black Earth Institute Fellow.
Lesley Wheeler is the author of the essay collection Poetry’s Possible Worlds and Poetry Editor of Shenandoah. Her previous books include The State She’s In, her fifth poetry collection, and Unbecoming, her first novel. Her work has received support from the Fulbright Foundation, Bread Loaf, Sewanee Writers Workshop, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. Wheeler’s poems and essays appear in Kenyon Review Online, Poetry, Ecotone, and Massachusetts Review, and other journals. @LesleyMWheeler
Rena Priest is a member of the Lhaq’temish (Lummi) Nation. She is the incumbent Washington State Poet Laureate and Maxine Cushing Gray Distinguished Writing Fellow. Priest is also the recipient of an Allied Arts Foundation Professional Poets Award, an American Book Award, and fellowships from the Academy of American Poets, Nia Tero, The Vadon Foundation, and Indigenous Nations Poets. She has authored three books and edited two anthologies. She holds an MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Learn more at renapriest.com.