The Hanners: Husband & Wife Postcarders

It’s almost 4th of July which means August is coming. August for me has become synonymous with the heart of summer because of my poetry postcard habit. This year is the 11th year of the August POetry POstcard Fest which I have a habit of spelling with two capital P’s AND two capitol O’s which led Terry Holzman (90064) to call it PoPo, which I LOVE. So, for about six weeks, I’m a little focused on postcards, buying, writing, sending cards and administering the PoPo fest.

I could not help but want to write about Toni and Michael Hanner (97404.) I met them at Tsunami Books a few months ago and they gave me a copy of their own books of poems created from their postcard efforts and I’ll be damned if they are not the best fucking poetry postcards I’ve ever seen. They are irreverent, intelligent and direct. They are epistolary, as is proper to such an endeavor. They are never clichéd or tired, very original. Like the first poem in Michael’s book from the 2014 fest, the line:

sailing /our paper airplanes into someone else’s August

or from August 2:

Here is August, that old lover/ to take us round the dance floor again

or one to the late postcarder, Bridget Nutting (98685):

In the morning sun
the jasmine reaches out
from its small trellis,
If I build a bigger one
it will climb that too
and expect more.

Someday it must learn
to do things for itself.

And dig the back cover of Michael’s book:

Ain’t that the truth! You send them out and hear nothing! are they glorious? Shit? It’d be nice to get an answer, but isn’t that how poetry’s supposed to work? Do it for the love of doing it?

Meanwhile Toni got a book out of the work from last year’s fest. She did NOT submit to our postcard anthology call, the book The 56 Days of August. Our loss. She did write every day about FISH!

Fish Poem 1

The wild iris
won’t bloom
in our pond.

The fish have stolen
all the yellow
from the sky.

or Fish Poem 17

Something in the blood
tells the Canada geese
to get up and go, but they have it pretty good
over by the Toyota dealership.

Their V-shaped flights are a formality,
one side of the river
to the other, singing the Goose Anthem.

And any poet worth their salt would have a book of fish poems without mentions of fish in at least one or three of the poems, like

Fish Poem 19

The fan
is making
small plastic sounds
like chickens

And then Fish Poem 20

You may have noticed this poem
is not in French. And so far
it has not had a single fish in it.
The fish are attending a seminar
on “Herman Melville and His Times.”
They don’t even speak French.

I love how Herman Melville pops up here out of nowhere. Surprise mind is one of the great arts of poetry, one of the signs that the person writing has some real skill in the poetic endeavor. It’s a hard one for me to get that quality in my own poems and it gives the feeling of a good joke, but coming from a place deeper down the throat, closer to the heart or spleen.

Thank you Postcarding Hanners of 97404. I hope your letter carrier appreciates you even if your postcard recipients are as silent as yellow-stealing fish under the honking car dealership geese.

hear the Hanners here:

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5th Cascadia Poetry Fest – Tacoma Oct 12-15

A few months ago I changed the header of this here website once again and added the phrase “Twenty Year Cascadia Bioregional Cultural Investigation.” I’ve blogged about it a few times here and here and here. Included in this effort is my interview project American Prophets, the MOOC Jared Leising and I have developed on Innovative Cascadia Poetry, my ongoing serial poem re-enacting Cascadia history, the latest chapter of which is Pig War & Other Songs of Cascadia and, perhaps most visibly, the Cascadia Poetry Festival.

This year the festival merges with the Tacoma Poetry Festival, which has had two iterations, the latest of which featured Brian Turner. I am grateful to Dale King, who has a vision for the town in which he works, that vision being the creation of a poetry festival that makes Tacoma a destination. I think we’ve gone a long way to combine our particular talents to create a festival that has been described by friends and associates as “a blockbuster.”  (CPF5 Press Release.)

Join us at CPF5 for a tribute to Tacoma native Richard Brautigan.

Among the participating poets are CAConrad, Patricia Smith, Sharon Thesen, Tod Marshall, Bruce Weigl, Lorna Dee Cervantes and Michael McClure, who is scheduled to read 5 days before his 85th birthday. There will be a tribute to Tacoma native Richard Brautigan and his daughter Ianthe Brautigan-Swensen will read, conduct a workshop and participate on a panel that will discuss the literary legacy of her Dad. There will be a panel on War Poetry/Veterans hosted by UW-Tacoma’s Abby Murray. Please look at the press release and consider being a part of this work, which will continue in 2018 in Tacoma, as we’re already making plans for CPF6. Gold Passes are only $25, will enable the first 30 purchasers to one free workshop (of the 5 that are being offered) and go on sale July 12. As the press release says:

A $25.00 Gold Pass provides access to all festival events EXCEPT for workshops, which must be booked separately. (Although there are discounts on some workshops, and some are even free if you buy your gold pass early.) Workshops will ONLY be open to Gold Pass holders. Tickets can be purchased beginning July 12, 2017 via Brown Paper Tickets:

If you want to help honor Richard Brautigan in his home town, Tacoma, by helping us fund and install a plaque on a home in which he lived, please contact me at Splabman (@) gmail (dot) com. Jayne DeHaan was instrumental last year in getting our Levertov plaque installed in Seward Park and we need someone to lead the cause in Tacoma. Thanks for your interest in this work.

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Charles Potts Interview

John Oliver Simon, former director of California Poets in the Schools and recipient of an NEA grant for translation, called Charles Potts “…the greatest poet born in Idaho since Ezra Pound…and one of the true faces of North American poetry.” (Read John Oliver Simon wrote about Charles Potts and the Temple in 2001.) Born in Idaho in 1943, Charles Potts is a retired real estate broker, poet, publisher and linguistic geographer. The publisher of the now defunct Temple magazine: “A postnational journal of spiritual elevation to create and maintain a state where the state has no jurisdiction” Charles has published numerous books of poetry, creative non-fiction including “How the South Won the Civil War: And Controls the Political Future of the United States” and the memoir of his nervous breakdown in Berkeley in 1968, “Valga Krusa” and had produced seven iterations of the Walla Walla Poetry Party. He breeds and raises Foundation Appaloosa horses in Walla Walla, Washington.

Your humble narrator traveled to Charles’ new home on Canberra in Walla Walla and on May 27, 2017, sat down to chat again. I think it’s the 3rd interview he’s conducted with Charles Potts.

In segment one we got right into his horse hobby, he now has 18 Appaloosas, how he had gone for 48 years without owning a horse and how he lost horses the first time. He also talked about how his new book “Coyote Highway” came out and read the title poem from it. He talked about his nature as a private person.

Coyote Highway
For Amalio Madueno

The baby coyote scampering across the road
In front of me and into the wheat fields
Eternal coyote grin of the hanging tongue
I imagined on his face
On her face
A coyote has two faces
(So too the road going both directions
And nowhere simultaneously)
Janus and dramatic
The happy and the sad
Bisexual and two sexual
Scampering sin embargo
Nevertheless there should have always been
An embargo on sin
We have coyotes to thank
For making it stick.

Nevertheless time has found my tongue
Hanging on a key signature
Making it stick on frozen steel.

A few days before the Blue Creek Fire
The coyote pup got ran over
Almost exactly where I’d seen it cross
A few days earlier
In the Janus-in-July crunch signifying both
The beginning and the end.

For the rest of the summer I’ve watched
The coyote’s tiny fur bearing body
Get impressed flatter and flattest
Into the pavement
Making it stick
Flatter than your father and mine
Both of them and all others
Becoming a coyote grease spot with hair
Over time by the over bearing weight of the wheels
Of a hundred fire trucks
Coming and going after
The Blue Creek fire
Driven relentlessly by over-dressed fire-proof
Department of Natural Resource men mostly
Pretending to be fighting fire snared
In a stronger force by orders of magnitude:
They were really fighting (and losing to) inertia.

Listen to Segment One and hear Charles Potts read the title poem, Coyote Highway, here – 12:35.

In segment Two he discussed the liability for the fire that devastated his property, about the poet for whom the poem Coyote Highway is dedicated, Amalio Madueño, whom Charles calls “the most under-appreciated poet in the U.S” about L.A. poet Suzanne Lummis and read the poem “The Coyote White Tail War.” Listen to Part Two – 12:37.

In the third segment Charles discussed the poem “Coyote Stretcher” and about how his Father was a trapper and read the poem. He also discussed and read the poem: “Shakespeare Was in Real Estate and I’m Buying the Farm.” He talked about his feeling that you can tell when horses are dreaming and that they are dreaming of running. He also responded to a question about a line in that poem: “The force that brings the human mind to attention” and his reticence to apply that to what fellow Walla Walla residents would call “God.” Listen to Part 3 – 11:15.

Waatnuwas and Charles Potts

In Part 4 Charles talked about his poem from the new book entitled “Midnight Equestrian” which seems to predict his heart attack, being focused on his legacy, as well as a poem entitled “The Naming of the Horses.” He talked about how he names horses, how each horse “deserves a name as exquisite as his or her soul…” In the poem “Hermiston Horse Sale” which he also reads, he discusses “holier than thou” Christian horse shoppers and his own take on “worship.” (See poem below.) He also talked about his interest in Chinese poetry, his late friend David Wong of New Mexico, got him into Du Fu and other ancient Chinese poets.  Listen to Part 4 – 11:33.

Charles with one of his horses and visitor Bhakti Watts. (The horse is on the left.)

In the 5th and final segment, Charles read the poems “Windy One Week Out” and “Palo Duro Sunrise.” He talked about the experience of burying a horse and about his feeling that the U.S. empire will be here for many decades based on an algorithm used to chart the declines of empires and his knowledge of how the Roman Empire was able to hang on for centuries and his knowledge of that history. Listen to Part 5 – 15:54.

The Hermiston Horse Sale

Standing in front of steel stud pens
A man and his son from Elkland, Missouri
Inquire about the bloodlines of my horses.

Preliminary to flashing me
His holier than thou card
The father says with grey beard earnestness,
“May I ask where you worship?”

Up to my knees
In horseshit and Christians I reply,
“Right here where I’m standing.”

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