Seattle Poetry Scene Comes to Hedreen

This year, the city’s poetry scene is colliding with Seattle University.

A newly formed collective called Margin Shift: Friends in Poetry will be hosting recurring readings in the Hedreen Gallery throughout the academic year. The group plans to host readings in the gallery on the fourth Thursday of each month, except
for holidays.

Curator Maged Zaher notes that the “Friends in Poetry” addendum should be emphasized because of the friendly nature and camaraderie of the group.
“The collective is a way to exchange ideas and support each other’s diverse projects,” said curator Robert Mittenthal, describing the way the members’ works intersect, yet maintain diversity.

Literary readings were once held in the gallery by former curators Whitney Ford-Terry and Jessica Powers, and Hedreen’s new curator Amanda Manitach hopes to extend the tradition. Manitach has a penchant for literary art, which she wants to integrate into the gallery as much as possible.

For the time being, readings will be in a traditional format, said Zaher, as the collective is new and still establishing its reputation and rhythm in the city. Three readings have already been hosted at the Hedreen, which Zaher said were mostly attended by the poets of the city, although he would like to see more Seattle U students at future events.

Mittenthal is also hopeful that students will take advantage of the accessibility of the events, not only because it will complement their academic careers, but it will also enrich the dialectic experience.

“If you know everyone in a room, you’ve got a problem,” Mittenthal said. “The idea of success is not knowing everyone in the room.”

Zaher hopes to also hold dialogue sessions down the line, as well as publish either a magazine or a chapbook.

The next Margin Shift reading will be held Thursday, Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. and will feature two Portland poets who have recently published books.

Poet Maryrose Larkin will be reading from her new release called “The Identification of Ghosts,” a poem about her father’s recent passing. The work is collaged from pieces of previous poems she posted on her blog.

Larkin said that “as an artist, you really want to be concerned when people start calling your work excellent because in some ways, that’s a box that it gets put in. And then you have to try and do that same sort of work again. So, I decided to do essentially what I was thinking of as a project against excellence.”

For over a month, Larkin practiced Oulipian writing of sorts and abided by self-imposed time constraints—every day,Larkin would spend 10 minutes writing a poem and five minutes editing it before promptly posting it to her blog.

Months later, Larkin comprised a manuscript called “The Identification of Ghosts” largely from the bits and pieces of those poems, which was then published as a book with Chax Press.

Fellow Portlander Standard Schaefer, an internationally read poet, will join Larkin at the reading.

Both Schaefer and Larkin were members of 13 Hats, a visual and literary collective, and worked together for over two years.

Schaefer recently published his fourth book entitled, “The Notebook of False Purgatories” via Chax Press. Schaefer said the effort is similar to Maryrose’s work in “that the book sort of pretends to be a notebook that you might find somebody’s random thoughts in.”

“The Notebook of False Purgatories” is a poem about discovering what it means to live fully in the “quotidian grit of the everyday world,” said Schaefer.

Schaefer is excited to read at Hedreen Gallery not only because of the opportunity to be a part of the new Margin Shift collective, but also because it will serve as a chance for students to see poetry in motion, independent of the expectations steeping the academic literature often used in the classroom.

Mittenthal spoke highly of a reading from the new book that Schaefer recently did in Portland, saying it was one of the better readings of the night.

The duo’s reading with Margin Shift this week could make it a night to remember—a night that integrates the Seattle U student body with the city’s steadily growing literary scene.

Margin Shift: Friends in Poetry is a fixed collective made up of curators Maged Zaher and Laura Neuman, Don Mee Choi, Kreg Hasagawa, Gregory Laynor, Sarah Mangold, Robert Mittenthal, and Deborah Woodard.

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