• Tuesday, September 29, 2015 11:49 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    The Alaskan Way Viaduct sings a roaring in our ears,

    her hoary freight bears down—rebarred and quaking 

    to crush—we stop our ears at stria screeching to break 


    Sing a glacial aria. Picture her—she once rode 

    a surfboard ice floe ripping through solid water slipping 

    the firn, making breccia wakes, scraping 

    all matter of chattermarks.

    Harmonize a glacier-blue blush—she was whole mother of forward 

    surge for half an eon, could not be stopped, 

    shadowed the glacier that swept this same Sound. 

    Now we cannot hoist her out of her chair.

    Aphasia—she forgets the second verse.

    Words freeze midbrain, coda becomes hum. She falls 

    in a crevasse, off-ramps sequestering carbon—so much 

    concrete we recant, we can’t watch icebergs calving fast ice.

    She slows—cowers shifts direction like a white wind rose, 

    her petals shrivel in frazil. 

    She lies—this is not the full story. 

    Her tongue muddles in slush. Albedo lost, all reflection dulls.

    Once their song clamored.

    Now 99, glacier dwindle in cirques, caught in arête, 

    retreat since the last ice age, since the last 

    carbon storm.

    Janet Norman Knox

    Janet Norman Knox is a poet/playwright/performance artist who 

    bikes via the viaduct twice a day and shudders beneath its mass. 

    Her play, “9 Gs and the Red Telephone,” is forthcoming in 

    Feminist Studies, the first scholarly journal in women’s studies.

    Visit the online journal at

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015 9:49 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Used to be what you’d see

    from back roads was random  

    bits of whatall going on

    pig lot wood lot cattle grazing

    whitewashed fences hay barns

    corn cathedrals looping on and on

    but now an open swath of road

    ravels away in the moonlight

    slow curves mown through the land 

    with ditches to gather the runoff

    country in its baffled emptiness 

    lain open to invaders

    with tumbleweed piling high

    against barbed wire till one 

    windblown survivor spills over

    Paul Hunter

    Paul Hunter is a Seattle poet and letterpress publisher who carves hardwood blocks to go with his lead type.  He won the Washington State Book Award for “Breaking Ground,” his first book of farming poems.

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015 9:46 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Ode to the Seattle Viaduct

    She's lying

    on her side draped in Greek linen the color of concrete. 

    She flanks the waterfront, tides lapping her toes.


    She lounges her cold

    stone stare - not grin, not grimace - 

    the curve of cheekbone propped on elbow,

    no hint of heat welling

    from a pelvic floor - in fact, we're pretty sure 

    those pretty thighs are carved as one solid slab.

    We're not clear what she desires, 

    but we've got a hunch

    she'll get anything she orders.


    She lunches on mussels dredged 

    from pilings, steamed or bristling, 

    canned in cars careening

    up and down her spine craving 

    internal combustion engines

    to vibrate her cement skin 

    exhaust dusting the spots 

    where she shines - because horses once sweated, 

    men once perspired to build this highway,

    so she might glow with such gravitas 

    so elevated her position that she tests 

    the very fate she seals 

    as we dispense with all caution

    and come hither. 

    Janet Norman Knox

    Janet Norman Knox is a poet/playwright/performance artist who 

    bikes via the viaduct twice a day and shudders beneath its mass. 

    Her play, "9 Gs and the Red Telephone," is forthcoming in 

    Feminist Studies, the first scholarly journal in women's studies.

    Visit the online journal at

  • Tuesday, June 30, 2015 2:32 AM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Wednesday, April 08, 2015 3:37 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    Grace Weston’s gorgeous, ironic, and often darkly funny photographs give the viewer both sensual and intellectual delights. Using miniature props, she creates vignettes of metaphorical psychological narratives, which she then photographs with vivid color and evocative lighting. The result is as alluring and hypnotic as a lucid dream, and as revealing of our subconscious fears and desires.  

    Weston is an award-winning artist whose work had been exhibited and collected widely in private and public collections in the United States, Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan. Her editorial clients include O, the Oprah Magazine; More Magazine; Discover Magazine; and several regional magazines.

    Your artwork has so much story and depth. What are you exploring? 

    Grace Weston: I started to realize a number of years ago that my pieces are psychological. Like most people, or maybe I do it more than most people, I’ve got voices in my head. So much ties back to my being a kid—I was pretty isolated as a kid, and we lived in the woods. I’d run around the woods and have these out-loud conversations. It wasn’t imaginary friends, but just scenarios in my head of something 

    I would say to somebody. I had an active imagination. 

    In our society, there are so many contradictions, things that don’t make sense, or assumptions we make about one another or ourselves that are only assumptions. I love questioning that kind of thing or getting that out in a picture. An older, really straightforward example is the “Nitey Nite” picture where that little girl is in bed and she’s got three devils floating around her head. We’ve all had nights like that, haven’t we? I have. Where we’ve woken up, not being able to sleep because of anxiety, things I’m concerned about or worried about.

    What are some themes you are interested in?

    Grace Weston: I think making art is a lot about learning about yourself, and not in a selfish way, but in a conscious way. It’s a way to reveal things to yourself through the work. I think that helps the viewer discover things about themselves, too.

    I know what the message is to me in my pictures, but I don’t like to spell it out all the way because the viewer can bring different things to it. Lots of times there are multilayers of meanings. 

    It’s almost as if we live on these two planes. We’re out in the world, interacting with people, doing our banking, doing our grocery shopping, keeping our lives together, having everything going, but I feel that we’re all walking around with our inner lives, too. It would be so interesting if we could really hear what everybody was thinking about in their soul. Not just their grocery list, but their questions about life, meaning, and connection, all of that. That’s what really interests me. And the fact that it is covered over with all the mundane things we do is fascinating to me, too.

    Some of my pictures have an almost nostalgic, vintage look—the housewife, the 1950s father. It’s iconic. It represents a certain way things are supposed to look. I like when it’s the way things are supposed to look—but not. I like the idea that there’s this whole underground of feelings and thoughts and questions.

    How do you get your ideas?

    Grace Weston: Sometimes I find a prop that inspires me. Or sometimes I find a prop that I feel one day I’ll use, and I put it in a drawer of my props. It can be years later that it shows up. Sometimes I have an idea first and I keep a little sketchbook where I’ll jot it down. Sometimes I’ll get a title first, and I have no idea what I’m going to do with it, but I’ll write it down because it sings to me somehow. Sometimes I’ll sketch a little idea, and then I’ll have to find the props or make the set and prop that will support the idea. Things change when I’m putting it together. Sometimes it’s spot on to how I imagined it, but usually it evolves.

    When I first started the vignette work, my first shot was human scale. It was a bird cage on a stand and a curtain. That set me in the direction of the narrative vignette, but that was the last time I did human scale. I have more control over smaller props—there’s less storage involved, I don’t have to have an assistant, and sometimes I can move things and reach them as I look through the camera.

    What sustains you as an artist?

    Grace Weston: Having a supportive partner has made all the difference in the world to me. I feel that I have an art career because I have somebody who believes in my work. As an artist, you have to risk and do things and approach things in your art, where, when you’re right in the middle of it, you think, my God, this is awful, or stupid, or doesn’t everybody already know this? Or it’s obvious or redundant. But I don’t think you’re working your edge at all if you don’t have doubts. It’s great to have someone who says, “You know what you’re doing, keep going.” That makes a world of difference.

    Christine Waresak

    Christine Waresak is Seattle freelance writer and the founder of the website Constellation617.

    This interview is excerpted and edited from an interview that appeared on the website Constellation617: Interviews with Creative People. To read the entire interview and other artist interviews, visit

    Portland-based artist Grace Weston’s artwork is in a group show at The Shed Studio and Guest Shed Gallery located at 739 South Homer Street in the Georgetown neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. The Shed Studio and Shed Guest Gallery holds its Grand Opening on Saturday, May 9, from 6-9 P.M., during the Georgetown Art Attack. 

    For more information about The Shed Studio and teh Shed Guest Gallery, visit

    To view more of Weston’s work, visit her website at or Wall Space Gallery in Santa Barbara, California’s website at

  • Thursday, April 02, 2015 6:24 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Thursday, April 02, 2015 6:10 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)


    For as long as I can remember having known her, I’ve been wanting to write about Clara. I’ve been putting it off for nearly a decade because, for one thing, my fondest memory of her has to do with watering my vegetable garden. And I haven’t watered a vegetable garden in far too long.

    But also, I just didn’t want to write a story about Clara that she could actually read. Clara was a very private person.

    To boil it down, my husband and I used to rent a cabin from Clara on her farmland, better known in Sequim as The Old Rhodefer Farm. One month we came up short of cash and Clara suggested we paint the cabin in lieu of rent.

    About a week later, with the scaffolding strewn all over the yard, Larry and I stood staring at our freshly-painted home, Clara joining us for once. But I noticed she kept looking down at my garden instead of at the cabin. Placing her hands on her hips, she looked directly at my pole beans and said, “Well, from here they don’t look that bad.”

    How many people would say such a thing?

    Sure, she’d pretty much ignored us until then. Sure, she’d lived in the main house for eighty years and felt she should have a say in what goes on next door, even what kind of beans I should plant. But it was nothing compared to the approval I felt when she finally walked over to stand with us. I felt our out-of-town-ness was finally being accepted. That we were finally being accepted.

    I stepped closer to her.

    She looked at me crossly. “Mary Lou, there’s something I’ve been meaning to tell you.”

    “Really? What’s that?” I braced myself. Larry put his hand on my shoulder.

    “You should water your garden in the morning.”

    I smiled. But not grudgingly.

    “While the ground is still cool so the roots can handle the cold water.”

    Was it true?

    Somehow it didn’t matter. What mattered was that she wanted to share her lifelong knowledge, and it endeared her to me.

    I said, “But I always thought it was better to water in the evening after the sun goes down, so ..."I had to think for a minute, "so the water doesn’t evaporate in the heat of the day.”

    “No, the cold water distresses the roots when they’re still warm from the sun.”

    Farming know-how has been in Clara’s family since Seattle was a logging camp, and everyone has a desire to share what they know with someone who’ll listen. So that’s what I did.

    Larry hmmed. I could tell he wasn’t convinced.

    But I was happy to take her advice. And use it. “Thank you,” I said.

    As instructed, the next morning I watered first thing.

    “You’ve been Clara-fied,” Larry said.

    Sometimes I’d lift the hose over my head to reach Clara’s vegetables. When the spray hit, it made a splattering sound and I’d adjust the nozzle until there was a softer mist. I’d look up and see Clara reading the Gazette at her kitchen table.

    I remember telling Larry that I didn’t want the watering to feel like a chore I had to hurry through, “like cleaning the bathroom,” I said.

    “So don’t hurry,” he said, in the way men do when they sense a reflective conversation coming on ten minutes before, say, kickoff.

    But I didn’t read anything into his clipped answer. I knew it had nothing to do with me and everything to do with the fact that the scaffolding was still scattered about and Clara was about to crackdown.

    Neighbors can teach you a lot.

    Watering is a great way to start the day. The best.

    Mary Lou Sanelli

    Sanelli’s newest title, A Woman Writing (What Writing About Writing Taught Me About Determination, Persistence, and the Ups and Downs of Choosing A Writing Life) is forthcoming in September. For information, visit

  • Saturday, January 03, 2015 11:14 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

  • Saturday, January 03, 2015 11:03 PM | Debbi Lester (Administrator)

    The next time I’m back home in Seattle and someone at Whole Foods is reading a food label as if studying for their SATs, I want to remember this moment: I am in a tiny grocery on the island of St. Croix. My vegetable choices are limited. There are onions and there are potatoes. Both are moldy.

    It is 98 degrees outside, only slightly cooler in. The owner looks as if he’d like to flog me when, after circling the aisles, I say, “Excuse me, where’s the beer?”

    He pauses awkwardly and shouts, “This is a Muslim store. I am a Muslim. No beer!”

    “Oh, that’s too bad.” I say, and then it becomes painfully clear it’s time for me to go.

    St. Croix is one of  three American Virgin Islands.“This island,” the director of the Caribbean Museum Center for the Arts (where I’m to be writer-in-residence for two weeks) says, “is the rougher island. If you want touristy, you go to St. Thomas. If you want upscale, you go to St. John. Here you have to watch yourself.”

    “Okay,” I say.

    “You might hear gunfire, but don’t worry, the drug gangs keep to themselves.”

    “Okay.” I haven’t even unpacked yet.

    “Use mosquito repellant, there’s Dengue Fever.”

    I look down at my mosquito bites. “Okay.”

    “And we’re sorry, but the air-conditioner in your room is broken, someone stole the copper compressor tubing.”

    Oh shiiiii... “Okay.”

    Frederiksted or “Freedom City” is the name of the town, named for the emancipated slaves from the sugar plantations who settled here. The mildewed ruins of the sugar mills only remind me of the brutal history of the island and the lives of abuse the slaves endured in the cane fields. Visually, it would take me much longer than a two-week residency to put all the misery behind me.

    Basically, by day I’m in isolation. Good. I have 257 pages of new editorial notes to flush out. Completing a book is…well, I was about to say brutal, but I will have to find another word now that I’m surrounded by strong reminders of the real thing.

    By night, I teach jazz in the universally-identical local ballet studio: Marley floor, mirrors, barre. Dancing is still the most enjoyable way of escaping real life.

    “What kind of jazz?,” one parent asks, lightheartedly, “lyrical, contemporary, imperialist?”

    “Ha ha ha.” In all my years of teaching, this is a first.

    Not to change the subject too abruptly, but have you watched the food documentary Fed Up? Apparently, the food industry adds processed sugar to just about everything now and it’s the number one reason obesity is epidemic. It’s impossible to pass the dilapidated sugar mills here and not think of the world’s addiction to sugar.

    Remember Darwin’s Beak of the Finch theory? Well, if you go to St. Croix today, you will see it in action. There is a variety of finch the locals call “sugar birds.” In nature, the bird is an insect eater, but the ones on St. Croix had modified their beaks within a few dozen generations to live on the sugar that was spilled around the mills.

    One of these finches comes to the picnic table I sit at. It could hardly catch a bug now. Its bill is formed into a perfect half-circle to feed on the granulated sugar people still put out for them especially when a cruise ship docks for the day. 

    The finch turns its head sideways, lays it flat on the table, and rakes the scattered granules into a tiny pile it can scoop up.

    “Check it out,” a man off the cruise ship yells.

    The bird flies away. Only the sugar remains.

    Mary Lou Sanelli

    Visit Mary Lou Sanelli’s website at

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