AWP Offsite event with Armenian-American Poets

AWP offsite events are free and open to the public, so join us in welcoming this group of Armenian-American poets to Portland!

Arminé Iknadossian’s debut poetry collection, All That Wasted Fruit, addresses the sacred feminine. Cofounder of Outside the Lines: A Creative Collaborative for Women, Arminé also leads Poetry in the Labyrinth at The Last Bookstore in Los Angeles and performs her poems for The Poetry Brothel.

Nancy Agabian is the author of Princess Freak, a poetry/performance collection, and Me as her again: True Stories of an Armenian Daughter, a memoir. Her novel, The Fear of Large and Small Nations, was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially-Engaged Fiction. She teaches writing at NYU.

Lory Bedikian’s The Book of Lamenting won the Philip Levine Prize for Poetry. She has an MFA from the University of Oregon. Her work was a finalist for the Crab Orchard Series in Poetry and for the AROHO’s Orlando Prize. She received a grant from the Money for Women/Barbara Deming Memorial fund.

Shahé Mankerian’s poetry collection, History of Forgetfulness, has been a finalist for the Bibby First Book Award, the Crab Orchard Series, the Quercus Award, and the White Pine Press Competition. He is the co-director of the L.A. Writing Project and the principal of St. Gregory Hovsepian School.

Lola Koundakjian has authored two poetry books and read in four international poetry festivals in Quebec, Peru, Colombia and West Bank. She co-curates the Zohrab Center’s poetry reading series in midtown Manhattan, and runs the Armenian Poetry Project in multiple languages and audio.

Veronica Pamoukaghlian has written, edited, and translated a variety of literary works, including New York Times bestsellers. She has contributed to anthologies and print journals, and has her own book of poetry, The Beauty of Disaster.

For Every Girl: New & Selected Poems – Kate Gray

Join us for the launch and celebration of Kate Grey’s new collection, For Every Girl: New & Selected Poems.

“[For Every Girl is] a collection dissimilar to most new and selected books. These poems, from a life of writing, come together in an arc that pulls us like ‘a rope across her palm’ into girlhood, adolescence into adulthood where the illusions of family become broken and truth reigns. We love hard and deeply in this book—cousins, aunts, uncles, mother, lovers. And even in the deepest betrayals Ms. Gray makes us hold in one hand pain and the other compassion, in one hand loss the other hope.” – Jeff Knorr

Kate Gray’s first full-length book of poems, Another Sunset We Survive (Cedar House Books, 2007) was a finalist for the Oregon Book Award and followed chapbooks, Bone-Knowing (2006), winner of the Gertrude Press Poetry Prize and Where She Goes (2000), winner of the Blue Light Chapbook Prize. Kate’s first novel, Carry the Sky, (Forest Avenue, 2014) stares at bullying without blinking. Over the years she’s been awarded residencies at Hedgbrook, Norcroft, and Soapstone, and a fellowship from the Oregon Literary Arts. Her poetry and essays have been nominated for Pushcart Prizes. In Any More, Black Shoe, Kate Gray’s novel-in-progress, she narrates, in Sylvia Plath’s voice, what led to The Bell Jar and her suicide attempt in 1953. Kate’s passion comes as a teacher, writing coach, and a volunteer writing facilitator with women inmates.

Naked – Nastashia Minto

In this poetic memoir, Nastashia Minto strips herself of who she used to be and gives readers permission to see her naked. Exploring topics of family, faith, race, sexuality, abuse, love, and identity, Minto’s words dig up rootbound emotions in need of better soil. This collection welcomes difficult conversations and allows space for unboxing uncertainties. By making herself transparent on the page, Minto inspires readers to become naked too.
 
Nastashia Minto is an African American woman who was born in South Georgia and raised there by her grandparents. She grew up in poverty and around drugs, alcohol, and family violence. Her life experiences led her to obtain an associate’s degree in occupational therapy and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She has been writing since she was nine years old and has found that her writing offers her another way to help people. Currently residing in Portland, Oregon, she has been a featured reader at many popular local reading series, including Unchaste Readers, Grief Rites, and Incite. Her writing has been published in SUSAN and in the Unchaste Anthology, volume III. Naked is her first book.

Poetry Night with Sean Cumming

For this month’s poetry reading, Scottish-born, Portland-based poet Sean Cumming will be reading selections from his own work in conjunction with the poetry and music of Robert Burns, discussing the life and times of ‘Scotland’s national bard’, and drinking some whisky. Cumming’s Leave to Remain is a collection of poems about, love, migration, and alienation.

Sean Cumming is a writer, musician and educator originally from Prestwick, a small town on the West coast of Scotland. He currently lives in Portland, Oregon with his wife and their plant collection.

Laura Read, Dresses from the Old Country

Join us in welcoming Laura Read, who will share her new poetry collection, Dresses from the Old Country.

Dresses from the Old Country jumps back and forth in time to illuminate the identities of a life in progress: lost child, lonely adolescent, teacher, daughter, friend, wife, mother—a woman continuously shaped and reshaped by memory and experience. With an eye on gender issues, Read looks back at her childhood in the ’70s and ’80s as she observes how popular culture is shaping her sons’ lives today.

“Laura Read is one of the great love poets of our age – her love is wide and searching, generous and demanding. She offers the fullness, complexity, and yearning of a daughter’s, wife’s, mother’s, and lover’s feelings. Fully human and deeply nuanced, Read’s poems propose a vision of love that is generous, abundant, and self-sacrificing, but also these speakers will be damned if a woman offering so much of herself will be ignored or erased. This is a beautiful collection that envisions the end of muses and imagines what reciprocal and empowered devotion might make possible.” —Kathryn Nuernberger

Laura Read’s chapbook The Chewbacca on Hollywood Boulevard Reminds Me of You won the Floating Bridge Chapbook Award in 2010, and her first full-length collection, Instructions for My Mother’s Funeral, was chosen as the winner of the AWP/Donald Hall Prize for Poetry by Dorianne Laux in 2011 and published in 2012 by the University of Pittsburgh Press. Her second collection, Dresses from the Old Country, will be published by BOA in October of 2018. Her individual poems have received awards from The Florida Review, Dogwood, and Crab Creek Review and have been published in many different journals, including most recently, Radar, Beloit Poetry Journal, Blood Orange Review, and The New York Times Magazine. She teaches English Composition, Literature, and Creative Writing at Spokane Falls Community College and serves as the poetry editor for Crab Creek Review.

Aileen Keown Vaux, Consolation Prize

Join us in welcoming Aileen Keown Vaux for a reading from her poetry collection, Consolation Prize.

Regional, humorous, and wise, the poems in Aileen Keown Vaux’s Consolation Prize bloom from Central Washington State Fair themes. “Find Your Happy!” transforms into a meditation on joy’s ephemerality; “Celebrate What’s Great!” examines both the wonder and despair of our observational faculties. The first chapbook published in Scablands Books’ Channeled Chapbook series, Consolation Prize promises to be a quintessential Inland Northwest read, as quirky and bright as the Yakima fair that frames it.

Aileen Keown Vaux is the author of the Consolation Prize (Scablands Books 2018) who earned her MFA from Eastern Washington University. Currently, she lives in Spokane where she works as a Career Adviser for the College of Arts, Letters, and Education at Eastern Washington University. She writes poetry and non-fiction.

Poetry with Kristin Berger, Carey Taylor, and Christianne Balk

This month’s poetry brings us recent work by Kristin Berger (Echolocation), Carey Taylor (The Lure of Impermanence), and Christianne Balk (The Holding Hours). We meet the last Thursday of the month to hear from 3 poets and are excited to hear new work from these poets.

Matthew Minicucci, RACC Grant Recipient

Join us in hearing from Matthew Minicucci’s new book of poetry, EPODE, which examines the soundscapes of the American West through the lens and structure of a Greek tragedy. Support and funding for this project have been provided by an Individual Artistic Focus Grant by the Portland Regional Arts and Cultures Council, and the 2018 C. Hamilton Bailey Oregon Literary Fellowship from Literary Arts.

Matthew Minicucci is the author of two collections of poetry: Small Gods, finalist for the 2016 Green Rose Prize from New Issues Press, and Translation (Kent State University Press, 2015), chosen by Jane Hirshfield for the 2014 Wick Poetry Prize. His poetry and essays have appeared in or are forthcoming from numerous journals including the Alaska Quarterly Review, The Believer, the Gettysburg Review, Oregon Humanities, The Southern Review, and the Virginia Quarterly Review. He is the recipient of numerous fellowships and awards, including the 2018 C. Hamilton Bailey Oregon Literary Fellowship and the Stanley P. Young Fellowship in Poetry from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. This past summer, he served as Artist-in-Residence at the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Poetry Night with Sherri Levine, Liz Nakazawa, Rebecca Smolen, and Igor Brezhnev

A collection of voice poems, In These Voices by Sherri Levine allows us to peek inside the lives of a variety of characters. Levine, through the magic of language, embodies a jilted lover, a worried husband, a young woman, a son, a granddaughter and even a squirrel.

Painting the Heart Open by Liz Nakazawa includes poems of memory, thanks, prayer, bliss, dreams and blessings, embedded in color, and, while ethereal, are also rooted firmly to the earth. Hope is the sustaining thread even if some poems veer into darkness. Light is never too far away.

Womanhood & Other Scars by Rebecca Smolen explores what it means to be a woman in the 21st century. Through the eyes of the poet as young girl, teenager, daughter, granddaughter, wife and mother, we traverse both the triumphs and heartbreaks of womanhood. Let these poems blanket you in the realization you are not alone—you have a community who will help you navigate the waters of misogynistic behavior and societal expectations. The scars of each of our experiences are there to remind us how far we’ve come, and give us the strength to keep rising.

Igor Brezhnev’s new collection of poetry, america is a dry cookie and other love stories, is now available for pre-order. The book contains ninety nine poems (with one additional surprise poem) on one hundred and ninety two pages. The poem ‘america is…’ features 15 illustrations by two very talented artists, Grace Anderson and Bernard McKenna.


Sherri Levine lives in Portland, Oregon where she teaches English as a Second Language to adult immigrants and refugees at Portland Community College and Portland State University. Her work has been published in The Timberline Review, Hartskill ReviewVoiceCatcher: A Journal of Women’s Voices & VisionsVerseweaversPerspectives Magazine, The Poeming Pigeon, and The Sun Magazine. She won First Prize (Poet’s Choice) in the Oregon Poetry Association’s Biannual Contest (2017). Sherri recently served as Poetry Editor for VoiceCatcher. She escaped the long harsh winters of upstate New York and has ever since been happily soaking in the Oregon rain.

Liz Nakazawa is the editor of Deer Drink the Moon: Poems of Oregon (Ooligan Press), a collection of nature poems by 33 Oregon poets. It was designated as one of the Best 100 Books about Oregon in the last 100 Years by the Oregon State Librarian. It was also a Best Picks of Powell’s.  She also edited The Knotted Bond: Oregon Poets Speak of Their Sisters (Uttered Chaos Press), a collection of poems by 32 Oregon poets. Her own poems have appeared in Turn, The Timberline Review and The Poeming Pigeon journals and haiku has appeared in ahundredgourds.

In her free time Liz enjoys bird watching, dancing (both folk and ballroom), calligraphy, reading, hiking and walking, identifying trees and flowers, writing snail mail letters to her son and friends, and collecting old books, vintage writing paper and stamps. She feels incredibly grateful for the love and nurturing, as well as friendships and community, from the pulsating Oregon poetry community. Words bloom easily here in Oregon.

Rebecca Smolen is a writer based in Portland, Oregon transplanted from New Hampshire in 2014. She has a deep love for short story, poetry, hugs and animals. She grew up on a dead end road exploring drainage pipes and pond life. Since settling here, she works as a veterinary technician, volunteers with the Pacific Pug Rescue, chaperones class field trips occasionally for her two small children, promotes ‘feminism is for everyone,’ attempts to stay connected with friends, goes to as many writing workshops and retreats as her budget and time constraints allow, and pet sits on the side to earn funds for the aforementioned.

Rebecca enjoys writing darker than most would assume of her, diving deep into forgotten memories and her weird dreams which fuel her creativity. She loves twisting the normal route of thinking and creating new metaphors. She is a true believer that once put down in print, words are no longer for the writer, but instead are meant to help, heal or console others. You can find her writing recently published in the Unchaste Anthology, Vol. 2, Mutha Magazine, and VoiceCatcher: a journal of women’s voices & visions.

Igor Brezhnev is a poet, an author and an artist, amongst his other sins. He has been calling Portland, Oregon his home for the past five years, with occasional long visits to Phoenix, Arizona, which has been his home for over twenty years. He has first-hand experience with confronting depression, homelessness, poverty, and xenophobia, as well as more common ailments like heartbreak and spilled coffee. Igor has authored three books: the book of possibilities (2012), dearest void (2016) and america is a dry cookie and other love stories (2018).