Hope in Hard Times on April 29

27 Apr

In honor of National Poetry Month, join 2010-11 Tacoma Poet Laureate Tammy Robacker and writer Maria Gudaitis with special guest poets Hans Ostrom, Josie Emmons Turner, Allen Braden, and Elijah Muied as they read poems in response to “Hope in Hard Times: Washington During the Great Depression”—an exhibit at the Washington State History Museum. “The Museum, which celebrates and conserves images, words, artifacts and papers, is an appropriate, resonant location for this event that celebrates thoughtful writing about hope and suffering. Both the History Museum and poetry attempt to preserve community memories and individual experiences. Both also aim to preserve a sense of meaning associated with the human experience,” said Robacker.

The poets will engage exhibit stories, artifacts and images. Like the exhibit, the reading will touch on poverty and resourcefulness—distress and courage—to show how artistic voices add meaning to memories of important eras.

“The Museum’s exhibit bears witness to Americans living through the worst economic crisis in our history. Survival and celebration go hand in hand. Even in the darkest time, people wrote poems. We see this in the Bible, in Holocaust art, in the poems of Prague Spring and in poets under house arrest in China today. Art lifts spirits. And the South Sound could use a creative boost, because the current economic downturn has depleted us,” said Gudaitis.

What: Hope in Hard Times – Tacoma Poets Respond to Adversity
Where: Washington State History Museum, 1911 Pacific Avenue
When: Sunday, April 29
2 pm gallery walk/talk with refreshments provided by Anthem Coffee and Tea
3 – 4 pm poetry reading in Auditorium
4 – 6 pm post-event party at Anthem Coffee and Tea, 1911 Pacific Avenue
Cost: $6 for gallery walk and poetry reading. All proceeds benefit the Washington State History Museum

About the Poets:
Tammy Robacker received a 2011-12 Hedgebrook Writer-in-Residence Award; was named the 2010-2011 Tacoma Poet Laureate, was co-editor of Tacoma poetry anthology, In Tahoma’s Shadow: Poems from the City of Destiny; and is the author and poet of The Vicissitudes (2010). Ms. Robacker’s poetry manuscript, We Ate Our Mothers, Girls, was selected as a finalist in the 2009 Floating Bridge Press chapbook contest in Seattle. Tammy runs her own freelance writing company, Pearle Publications. Her editorial writing has appeared in SHOWCASE Magazine, CITY ARTS Magazine, and the Weekly Volcano.

Maria Gudaitis is a 2012 Tacoma News Tribune Reader Columnist; 2007 40 Under 40 Business Examiner honoree; and principal and owner of Maria Gudaitis Design.

Here’s a sampling of poems you will hear at this event which were inspired by the Museum exhibit –

Gazeful at the World through Depression Glass
When I’m gazeful at the world
through depression glass,
my heart is a fluted blue teacup
that has not cracked.
My house dress dances
out of a gunny sack.
My milk glass pitcher
pours all the children back
who took to the rails
riding far from home
to go find work.

When I’m prayerful for the world
through depression glass,
my nickels roll up
to heaven then back.
My wishful fills
a pink candy dish.
My hopeful lights
bright amber candlesticks
pulled out
from an oatmeal box,
from this dark, thin air

like a magic trick.

–Tammy Robacker

So few are left that know your story
we’ve no choice but to dish out the details.
Some swear you spent your days alone or sweating
alongside hired hands at Regan’s sheep camp.

For proof they point out a pair of shears,
a hooded lantern from the Depression,
but around here everything’s slurred
by malt liquor and years of indifference.

I heard there was no funeral,
your ashes spread out over the snow
on the graves of those rumored as kin.
Hearsay is history in this town.

One neighbor claims you handed him a tobacco tin,
chock-full of crumpled twenties and fifties
for the daughters, only two days beforehand.
I heard your sheep auctioned off for cheap.

A winter so cold the eggs froze under your hens….
Who found you anyway, stiff as a brace post
and propped up by the pot-bellied stove?
More than a dozen take the credit.

Allen Braden


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