For those unfamiliar with Tidal Echoes, it is the literary journal of the University of Alaska Southeast. Professor and poet Emily Wall oversees its publication each year through Jr./Sr.-level editors coming up through the ranks of their own creative writing pursuits. It’s such a delight to publish in this journal because each is so unique and different from the last. I think I’ve published in about a dozen issues over the years. Each year feels a bit like this happy reunion of page of writers and artists of the region, many with whom I’m familiar, or simply know through friendship and writing. Many I’ve encountered through my volunteer editing work at Alaska Women Speak. Some have been my own creative writing students at Sitka High School trying on their own publishing wings.
Last fall I was asked by the editorial staff of Tidal Echoes if I would like to serve as their 2022 Featured Writer. What an honor! And certainly an opportunity I could not refuse. I worked most directly with Shaelene Grace for shoring up an interview in the fall, submitting poems in the winter, and prepping for my presentation the night of the April 1 launch.
I have to admit that I love all the written aspects of writing poetry, of publishing work, but I still fret at the idea of organized readings, even after all the opportunities I’ve had to do so. The idea of talking for 15 minutes still makes me balk initially until I resettle into the reality than time flies when I’m reading, really reading, my poetry. And usually, before I know it, I’ve cleared 15 and am headed into 20. The thing of it is though is overcoming that block, “Oh, I can’t do that,” and instead jump in. When it comes down to it, I’ve never had a negative experience in a reading, in fact it becomes one of those moments in which I’m truly present. There’s great beauty in that, but also in the look-around the room and seeing who is there to hear you read because they want to be there, be it friends, writing group, fellow writers, college roommate, parents, teachers past and recent, even someone you’re sweet on. There’s a sweetness to it all that can’t be replicated under other circumstances.
So I organized my presentation into Haiku Deck. It is titled “And then you follow that spark,” but if you put together each of the slide headers, you end up with a bit of a rough poem in even that:
And then you follow that spark
break out the technology
allow your poems space
be surprised by where you can revise
say yes to all the readings
I closed with reading “Songbird, I Offer You Refuge,” “When Even the Astrologer Says You’re Fucked,” “Troubadour,” “Like a Sniff of Pepper,” and “Heart as a Burning State.”
I have nothing but gratitude and admiration of Emily’s hand in all of this. Thank you to editors Emily Bowman and Shaelene Grace. And thanks also to reporter Michael Lockett for his interview and story in the Juneau Empire News: “Loss and Birds: UAS Releases Annual Literary Journal.”