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The City of Tacoma and Puget Sound Poetry Presents

The Distinguished Writer Series

April 14, 2017  7:00 p.m.

Kings Bookstore, 218 St. Helens, Tacoma WA

Rich Barot, Featured Reader

Rick Barot

Rick Barot's most recent book is Chord, which received the PEN Open Book Award, the UNT Rilke Prize, the Publishing Triangle's Thom Gunn Award, and was a finalist for the LA Times Book Prize. Barot lives in Tacoma, Washington and directs The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA program in creative writing at Pacific Lutheran University.  He is also the poetry editor for New England Review.  In 2016, he received a poetry fellowship from the Guggenheim Foundation.



Out of the station.  Out of the rail-yard’s braiding

and unbraiding tracks.  Onto the one track

skimming the edge of the coast’s flat gray water.

On one side, marinas and houseboats

and the demolished timber mills’ supports, sticking out

of the water like burned matchsticks.

On the other side the crumbling spread of landscape.

Woods.  Little woods where there are as many trees

toppled over as there are live ones.  Moss

on everything an earnest green fuzz.  The ferns deeply

wet, then the junk in the poor yards behind

factories, trailers, houses.  Morning, and the light is

the day’s information.

                                      What was I talking about,

talking about the place of the political

in poems, the students writing down what I said

to them.  That you have to keep distressing the canvas

of the personal.  That you need to ask what is

left out for beauty’s sake, to see how the unspoken

will inflect the things you have allowed yourself to say.

Now these marshy places.  Grasses and cattails,

which are not caricatures of knowledge.

Pools of milky green water.  And the creeks curving

into sudden sight like a heartache.  The mind going

over and over things, not knowing what to do

with the world, but to turn it into something else.