SPOTLIGHT: Poetry reading at Greenbank Farm gallery Saturday night

Posted in Feature, Spotlight

Turns out that poetry will be the art form of the week on Whidbey Island starting Saturday.

In addition to Washington State Poet Laureate Kathleen Flenniken’s visit to the schools and libraries next week, the Rob Schouten Gallery features three poets, John Burgess, Stephen Roxborough and Raúl Sánchez at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20 at the gallery in Greenbank.

“Each of these three poets is an exciting writer and riveting performer, each in their own unique way,” gallery co-owner Victory Schouten said.

In the fifth and most recent collection of Sánchez, “All Our Brown-Skinned Angels,” the Mexican-American poet speaks from both a personal place and a political one. Sánchez writes about family, culture, and society; about his dad being a Mexican immigrant laborer in “My Father Was a Bracero,” and about his daughter in “Dandelion.” That’s one of the poems he pointed to, when asked what his reading will be like on Saturday night. Here it is:


My daughter and I wrote a poem last night

We picked ideas and objects to write about

We mixed them up

in a salad bowl

carefully tossed


We picked funny words

to make happy sounds

We added, repeated, deleted


We laughed and fell to our toes

pretended to be dandelions

waiting for the wind

to shake us up


We acted like daffodils

and tulips soaked in rain

We opened ourselves in the morning

and closed our petals

when the sun ran away


We agreed that our poem

should be like a dandelion

so when shared with others,

the words will float to the ears

of those who listen


Carried by our breath

like the dandelions fuzzes                   

in the breeze

and so, my daughter and I

wrote a poem last night


Burgess follows the punk rocker’s prerogative and breaks rules, like every good artist. He’ll read from his first collection, “Punk Poems,” and his most recent, “Graffito,” and also some new unpublished poems. Burgess said the punk pieces are “10-line poems that eschew popular culture, the famously dead and my personal mythology.”

Here’s one of the punks:


Close enough almost

To touch although

In separate space

To hear you in our hallway

Telltale floorboards steps

You try not to take

To sense you near

As you pass & pace

Cigarette smoke



Roxborough, too, is pretty dependable when it comes to breaking some rules and surprising his audience. An internationally acclaimed, award-winning performance poet, “Rox” has been twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Here’s one of his meditative explorations of life in general:

 The Physics Of Philosophy

there are no lines he said

everything is approximation


most things begin and end

in the same place she said


the biggest lie is that life

must mean something he said


there are no facts worth

dying for she said


too much work is like trying

to eat the world he said


the difference between life

and death is ice cream she said


Schouten was instrumental in creating the Burning Word poetry festival for Whidbey Island.  “Words Without Borders” is that festival’s off-spring, a pared down version that reduces the complicated aspect of running a big event, but still gets interesting poets onto the island.

Schouten is good at poetry events because she’s a poet and knows the work of poets in the Northwest region. These three poets fit her criteria in more ways than one.

“The realness of their poetry grabs us and connects us,” Schouten said.

“They make me think, and they make me laugh. They are having fun with this collaboration and we can rest assured the result will be an evening alive with life and language,” Schouten added.

Admission to “Words Without Borders” is free. Donations are welcome and will go to the poets. The gallery doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for the limited seating, so please arrive early.

Light refreshments will be served.


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