“Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days”: A Reading and Conversation
More than a year ago, poets Rachel Zucker and Arielle Greenberg invited 98 poets from around the country to join them in writing a poem for each of Obama’s first 100 days in office. These poems were to “respond, however loosely, to the presidency, the nation, the government or the current political climate.” With daily poetic postings on its blog, 100dayspoems.blogspot.com, the project became an exciting online collection of new poetry from some of America’s most respected poets. The University of Iowa Press later offered to print the poems in an anthology with an introduction from former United States Poet Laureate Rita Dove and an excerpt from Elizabeth Alexander’s inauguration poem as day one.
On August 19, 7 p.m., poets Jeff Encke, Todd Fredson, Prageeta Sharma, Martha Silano, Pimone Triplett and Sarah Vap will read selected poems from the anthology and elaborate on their own experiences concerning the process of writing about and responding to the political world through poetry.
The reading will be followed by a moderated discussion on the intersection of art and politics between the participating poets, politicians and community members, including Nick Licata, Seattle City Councilmember; Kumani Gantt, executive director of the CD Forum for Arts and Ideas; and poet Elizabeth Austen. The audience will be encouraged to contribute questions and observations.
The reading and discussion are free. Drink and refreshments will be available at Café Hugo, Richard Hugo House’s café/bar. The anthology, “Starting Today: 100 Poems for Obama’s First 100 Days,” will be available for purchase through Elliott Bay Book Company.
About the Poets
Jeff Encke taught writing and criticism at Columbia University for several years, serving as writer-in-residence for the Program in Narrative Medicine while completing his PhD in English in 2002. He now teaches at Richard Hugo House. His poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, Barrow Street, Bat City Review, Black Warrior Review, Colorado Review, Fence, Kenyon Review Online and Salt Hill, among others. In 2004, he published “Most Wanted: A Gamble in Verse,” a series of love poems addressed to Saddam Hussein and other Iraqi war criminals printed on a deck of playing cards.
Todd Fredson’s poems have appeared in 42opus, Blackbird, Court Green, Pistola, Poetry International, Puerto del Sol and RUNES. He is the director of the nonprofit McReavy House Museum of Hood Canal and lives in the Skokomish Valley with his wife and children.
Prageeta Sharma is the author of three poetry collections: “Infamous Landscapes” (Fence Books, 2007), “The Opening Question” (Fence Books, 2004), and “Bliss to Fill” (Subpress, 2000). “The Opening Question” won the 2004 Modern Poets Prize. Her work has appeared in journals such as Agni, the Boston Review, the Indiana Review, Jubilat and the Literary Review. Sharma is an associate professor of English and the director of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Montana in Missoula.
Martha Silano is the author of two poetry collections, “Blue Positive” (Steel Toe Books, 2006) and “What the Truth Tastes Like” (Nightshade Press, 1999; winner of the William & Kingman Page Poetry Book Award). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, Paris Review, American Poetry Review, TriQuarterly and The Best American Poetry 2009. She teaches at Bellevue College.
Pimone Triplett, director of the creative writing program and associate professor of English at the University of Washington, is the writer of “The Price of Light” (2005) and “Ruining the Picture” (1998). She has been the recipient of the Levis Poetry Prize and the Hazel Hall Poetry Prize. She holds an MFA from the University of Iowa.
Sarah Vap is the author of “American Spikenard,” which received the 2006 Iowa Poetry Prize, and “Dummy Fire,” which received the 2006 Saturnalia Poetry Prize. Her third collection, “Faulkner’s Rosary,” is forthcoming from Saturnalia Books. She lives on the Olympic Peninsula with her family and is the poetry editor at 42opus.