The Confluence Poets celebrated their first opportunity to read to a live crowd by paying tribute to the Native land on which we live in the Methow Valley. I read a series of poems written during an artists residency co-sponsored by Methow Arts Alliance and the Icicle Fund. It was one of two residencies focused on the culture, history, and art of local watersheds, first the Methow and then the Wenatchee. These poems examine the nature and history of the Wenatchee Watershed, its Native history and the impact of humans from settlers to the present. Thanks to my residency colleague David Lukas for videotaping.
I was honored to be among the readers for the tribute reading for Pulitzer Prize winning poet, Stephen Dunn, who died on June 24, 2021. He was my first important teacher of poetry, and beyond that a long time friend and mentor. I hope you enjoy this video of the reading of his work by his friends, former students, and colleagues.
Abecedarian of a Gender Dysphoric Childhood
As soon as I knew anything of myself, I knew that I was a
Boy, despite the ample evidence of clothing and parts to the
Contrary. I had a firm commitment to this identity:
Dressing and—within myself—being like my father at
Every chance. Weekly trips to the grocery store, always a
Family event, I wore the hand-me-down jeans and shirts
Gotten from my older brother: Johnny Tremane! and
Hung my hands from beltless loops by the thumbs.
I was sure about who I was back then, those first ten years.
Just about until puberty, when the messages got amped up, trying to
Kill off that boy part of me with taunts, and threats that I would
Live a lonely life if I remained a tomboy. I didn’t understand what they
Meant. I had plenty of friends. It was as if they thought that
Now, at the age of ten, I was someone different than I had been,
Or maybe it was they who had changed? Anyway, I asked for a home
Perm so I could wear my hair in a flip like the beauty contestant I loved
Quietly and with deep secrecy, a kind of drag I wore
Restlessly that summer before fifth grade. Like all acts, it was
Short-lived, and by middle school, my he was back in secret glory,
Tomboy in navy blue blazer, my shaggy bangs and desert boots
Under the requisite dress-code skirts and jumpers. I remained a
Virgin until twenty, when I gave it that college try with a man
Well into his thirties. After that, I was able to announce I’m no
Xenophobe, let me taste the world’s full offering of bodies
Yin and yang and all the flavors between. I live my own Queer way; a
Zebra: neither black nor white, but the field on which they play.