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Third Thursday Newsletter -- Issue 39

In this 39th issue of the 3rd Thursday Newsletter we’ll take a look back and a glance ahead at what is happening with Voices of Tacoma.

April is the cruelest month, but can also be – for poets – the most celebrated.  Spring begins to set the pace, with a hint of what’s to come and the residual of winter all wrapped into the same day. Poetry celebrates this uncertainty, this indecision, in verse form. 

Make a point to listen to someone read their poetry this month. Buy their work and read it yourself. Go out and hug a poet - it will make you both better for doing it. 


Voices of Tacoma is in the midst of our second open submission for poems of, about, or inspired by Tacoma. This time we’re focused on BIPOC poets so we can better align with the diversity of our City. In addition to BIPOC poets we are also seeking poets who live on the East Side, South Side, North East Tacoma, the Lincoln District, and Madison/Lincoln Heights (AKA “the Mall” - see below). Submissions are open until May 1, so email your work to, or reach out if you have questions.


On Saturday, April 6, I had the opportunity to join artists Horatio Hung-Yan and Linda M. Wysong for a “Visioning Tour” of the “Mall Subarea Regional Growth Center”.  How, might you ask, would a visit to the Mall relate to Voices of Tacoma? 

Well, it was a tour (on a bus) of the areas centered on S 38th St and S Pine St. This area is commonly known as “the Mall”, but is actually four distinct neighborhoods/areas that have been overshadowed by the high-church of capitalism. It is an area that has been otherwise overlooked and under appreciated. 

The tour, organized by the Arts and Cultural Vitality, brought together 20+ creatives (including artists, poets, and skateboarders) to witness the needs of this locale. Whereas other areas of the city enjoy schools and parks, public art and ample tree cover, this vortex of our City is covered by impermeable asphalt (70%). The sidewalks don’t actually take you where you want to go (nor do two sidewalks join to carry you forward, nor are they accessible), and yet it is one of the fastest growing areas in terms of population and job creation in our region.

Our job, as we rode around and heard from residents, experts, and advocates, was to capture the essence of what is there, and to envision what should be created to make the space more livable. We were charged with sharing our experiences through our art, connecting the lives of those who live there with others, and finding other layers of meaning. We were asked to help tell their story as well as to name this midtown neighborhood we all know so little about. 

That’s where Voices of Tacoma comes in. Although a few poems were submitted about this area we are hoping for more. Help to raise up the voices of those who live in this area and to celebrate their lives in verse.


Thursday, April 11, was a very busy day for the project. The morning started with an interview on CityLine, I had the chance to share our progress and talk about upcoming events. Look for another visit to the comfy couch on September 26th, when we’ll be talking about the book’s launch! 

After the interview I had a call with Tina, a potential partner in creating poetry programs for the City of Tacoma Historic Preservation Office. May is Historic Preservation month and they have a lot of activities planned. The theme, “Discovering Tacoma’s Stories”, is one which naturally encompasses the poetry of Tacoma and I am excited about potentially being involved in these events. I am especially excited about the Historic Preservation Awards for this year’s nominations at the Blue Mouse Theater on May 23rd. Hope to see you there!

That same morning I was at Mauricio Robalino’s studio to talk about his art. Mauricio, who is an amazing person in addition to being a fantastic artist, has created the cover art for the anthology and is also creating the illustrations. It’s going to be an amazing collaboration of his artwork (visual poetry) paired with the words of the poets. We also discussed future collaborations but news about those will have to wait for another time.

Then, to cap off what was already an incredible day, we had our April Gathering of Poets in the community conference room at Mattice Beauty Supply. Mattice hosted the event and we had a great time writing, and sharing, poems about the neighborhoods where we live.


A few days later, on a sunny early-Spring Sunday at LUX Coffee, I met up with Irina, from Tacoma Porchfest, to discuss ideas ranging from how the poets in Voices of Tacoma can have a reading at this year’s event (on July 20th), to Tacoma Honk! Fest, as well as how we can partner to engage with the community in creating future art event programming. Just like the conversation with Mauricio, in addition to discussing our current projects, Irina and I began laying the foundations for further collaborations in the future.


And, though that all sounds like a lot, there’s more to come - there’s always more to come … 

In celebration of National Poetry Month, watch out for these upcoming events:

  • Today (April 18th) at Mottet Library from 10:30am to 12:00pm, local poet Celeste Schueler will be facilitating “Writing Memory”.  In this generative poetry workshop hosted by Voices of Tacoma, we will be focusing on a distinct memory, any memory, and creating a poem from that memory. We will focus on images from that memory and do our best to recreate that moment in verse.  

  • Also tonight, Tacoma Community College will be presenting the 2nd Annual Poetry in the Harbor at the TCC Gig Harbor campus, from 6:00pm to 9:00pm.  Hosted by Allen Braden, this year's event will feature four local poets, Asha Berkes, Kathleen Byrd, Josie Emmons Turner, and Michael Haeflinger, who will each share their work with the audience. Following the readings, there will be a panel Q&A session where attendees can engage with the poets and learn more about their creative processes.

  • On Tuesday, April 23rd from 6:00pm to 7:30pm, Voices of Tacoma will be hosting “Writing Your Poem About Tacoma” at South Tacoma Library.  Come join me as we write a poem of, about, or inspired by Tacoma. Bring your personal impressions (smells, sounds, sights and feelings) to bear in this generative workshop where you will create a poem and have a chance to expand your perspective of our City of Destiny.


As I said, there is a lot going on in Tacoma that you can get involved with. We hope you have a chance to participate in some of these events in celebration of National Poetry Month, that you go out and get involved in your community, and that you give a big hug to your favorite poet while you're there.

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