Written by Greg Scheiber
“Every word along the way
Lit like a flame upon
The wick of its origin
I kiss each name and make
For it a temple on my tongue I name”
writes Janaka Stucky in his forthcoming book of poetry, Ascend Ascend, due out on April 23. Ascend Ascend was written “over the course of twenty days, coming in and out of trance states brought on by intermittent fasting and somatic rituals while secluded in the tower of a 100-year-old church” (Stucky’s website). Poetry is a mystical experience of language and Janaka Stucky, in both his work and poetics, constantly reminds us of that and the deeper connections that this type of artwork explores. Stucky describes the book-length poem as “documenting the ecstatic destruction of the self through its union with the divine”. Every poet knows the feeling when they’re writing and something inexplicable seems to write the words on the page, something beyond thought that Stucky has captured in the quote above.
Janaka Stucky will be with us for Get Lit! this year in a brand new meditative poetry event on Friday, April 26. Following a yoga class designed specifically for the writer’s mind and body at the Spokane Yoga Shala, Janaka Stucky will be giving a read where he will be joined by local Spokane poet and collaborative artist, Ellen Welcker. The yoga class will be from 8:30 to 9:30 am and the reading will follow at 10 am.
To purchase tickets and register for the Yoga for Writers please visit spokaneyogashala.com.
Janaka Stucky is also the founder of Black Ocean Press, a Boston-based independent publisher with satellites in Chicago and Detroit. The award-winning publisher’s mission states that they “believe in the fissures art can create in consciousness when, even if just for a moment, we experience a more vital way of operating in the world—and through that moment then seek out more extreme and enlightened modes of existence. We believe in the freedom we find through enlightened modes of existence, and we are committed to promoting artists we firmly believe in by sharing our enthusiasm for their work with a global audience.” Black Ocean was founded in 2004 and published its first books in 2006. Recently, they have merged with independent poetry publisher Gramma Press based out of Seattle. You can hear further about this at the “Adventures in Publishing Panel” on Saturday, April 27 at the MEC. Along with Janaka Stucky will be Christine Holbert from Lost Horse Press, Greg Gerding from University of Hell Press, Chris Howell from Willow Springs Books, and Kelly Schirmann from Black Cake.
Both Stucky and Schirmann will also be at the Poetry Salon event at 9pm on Friday, April 26 in the Downtown Public Library. The salon will be a discussion of writing and the writing life with Stucky and Schirmann and they will be joined by Kaveh Akbar, Claudia Castro Luna, and Anastacia Renee with Ellen Weckler moderating.
Kelly Schirmann is a poet with Black Ocean Press and her most recent book, Popular Music, was released in 2016. She is one of the most sought-after young poets and her book has been described as “generous mind with an explicitly wild and playful vision, agitated by the expanse of her own belief and willfully undone by the heft of her love—for you, for every other, for the planets not invented yet.” She has credited Gary Snyder, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, rock music, and others for inspiration as she attempts to create open poems that, in her own words, “allow[s] wind (song) to go through them, like lyrics”. She will be reading at the Downtown Public Library from 7-8pm with Kaveh Akbar on Friday, April 26. Her book will be for sale and a signing will follow afterwards.
“Every woman I know is suffering from fatigue
Leonard Cohen is dead
Poetry is a folk song, meaning
Poetry is completely worthless
unless it is mobilized toward
or attached to
–Kelly Schirmann, from “Poem for a New Year”
To purchase tickets for Popular Poetry: Kelly Schirmann and Kaveh Akbar click here.