Thursday, December 16, 2010

Robacker Awarded 2011 Writer’s Residency at Hedgebrook

TACOMA, WA –Tacoma’s Poet Laureate and writer, Tammy Robacker, has just been awarded a 2011 writer’s residency at Hedgebrook.

Hedgebrook, located on Whidbey Island, WA is one of the few retreats in the world exclusively devoted to women writers. Women writers from around the world come to Hedgebrook to take part in a multitude of programs focused on mastering their work. The Writers in Residence program is the core program. With no-cost residencies ranging from two weeks to six weeks they come to write, rejuvenate, and connect with each other.

Having narrowed the original 795 applicants down, the committee awarded only 38 final residencies for 2011. Robacker was one of these select few poets and writers from across the globe. The quality of work from this final group was most impressive and it represents a diversity of cultures and rich life experiences that Hedgebrook welcomes.

Robacker published her first book of poetry, The Vicissitudes, just last year (Pearle Publications). She is currently working on new material, and the time spent at Hedgebrook will afford her the space, privacy and creative surroundings to help her complete a second book—A work which will be thematically focused on the trials and tribulations of the American teenage girl; a subject she never tires of reading or writing about!

Residency applicants are selected based on the quality of their writing and strength of their proposal—not whether they have been published. Hedgebrook is committed to nurturing the individual voice and creating a sense of community amongst writers. This creates a ripple effect, as the connection that begins between writers radiates out to countless readers and audiences who experience their novels, poems, plays, screenplays, graphic novels, memoirs, and more.

The Writers in Residence Program offers women writers the opportunity to unplug from their daily demands in life, to be free from worry about putting food on the table or paying bills, and to find their story and have the peace and time to give it a voice. Repeatedly, writers say they are able to begin, develop, and complete work at Hedgebrook that they would not have done otherwise.

For more information about Hedgebrook, including the Writers in Residence Program and upcoming readings and events, check out the website at:


Monday, December 6, 2010

Sleeping is giving Arcade Fire

As 2010 closes, I have cinched up a lot of personal goals and projects as Poet Laureate of Tacoma. Now, I am beginning planning new projects and laying plans for the upcoming year and my poetry. At this point, I am gearing up to write book #2.

I'm entering into a very incubatory, productive and creative time for my writing. As poet laureate of Tacoma for the past 8-9 months, I have been on the go--taking action! Lots of readings, workshop teaching, volunteering, school visits, lectures et al. I'm looking forward to a more reflective pace of the holidays and the slowing nature of snow has a way of shutting the world down, which makes for lots of writing time for me--as long as the power doesn't go out in Pierce County. :/

I'm working on a poem right now and listening to the bass-driven, piano-plinky, hypnotic build of Arcade Fire's song-- Rebellion (lies). I cannot stop playing this tune in my car, on my computer, in my mp3 player. Listen to it... you won't be able to get it out of your head. Tight song:

Another Winter issue article: Inspired Design, by TLR

This feature on landscape design was written by me about Olympic Landscaping. It got the cover shot for Showcase Magazine/WINTER Issue. My first cover shot! Quite a thrill to see that on newstands. It made my day....well, my year really. What a great way to cinch up December, and a year of freelancing for the magazine.

It's been a great journey full of food and restaurant reviews, interviews with amazing artist, designers and jewelry makers. I have learned so much more about the many, creative entrepreneurs who live among us here in Pierce County and beyond and the strategic and artisinal ways they do business. It's an inspiration to me too as an artist, poet and writer.

To read the article:

Showcase Mag by TLR: Patient Care Tower, 12/10

I wrote this article about the new Multi-Care Tower in Puyallup for ShowCase mag. Also, the mag is having a holiday lunch party today :) Festivus!

Lots to celebrate in my life today:

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Robacker reads for PSPC Poetry Marathon - TODAY!

PSPC Poetry Marathon at Kings Books, Tacoma today:
I'm reading at 2:30 pm!
It's an 8 hour day full of cool poets. Pick your fave poet and come!

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Robacker to read at ART SLAM 11/17

Art Slam
November 17, 2010
doors open at 6:30 pm, show starts at 7 pm
Rialto Theater, 310 S. 9th Avenue
Free to the public

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nov. 7, Get Ekphrastic! Workshop - Join Me!

Get Ekphrastic! Writing Poetry that Confronts Art
Note: Ekphrastic Poetry is poetry written to comment upon another art form--such as a painting, a photograph, or a sculpture.

GET EKPHRASTIC! Class Details:
Sunday, November 7, 2-4 pm @ Urban Grace Church, Rm. 208, Tacoma, WA, Use 9th Street entrance.
RSVPing is required. Simply email your RSVP and your full name to:
$10 suggested donation. Bring check or cash to the class on the day you attend.

Class Outline:
This 2-hour workshop will be led by Poet Laureate of Tacoma, Tammy Robacker, and is designed to explore Ekphrastic Poetry for poets and writers of all skill levels. Workshop attendees will spend time examining and discussing existing, canonized Ekphrastic poems by poets who confront paintings by artists such as Picasso, Pollock, Van Gogh, Duchamp and others. Then students will be given the opportunity to write their own Ekphrastic poetry in exercises that respond to samples of paintings/artwork provided at the workshop. Last of all, students will share their written work aloud in a round-robin fashion for gentle critique and commentary by the group.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Writing Deeply - Poetry Workshop, OCT 24

WRITING DEEPLY - A Poetry Writing Workshop
DATE: SUNDAY, October 24, 2010 at 2-4 p.m.
PLACE: Urban Grace Church, Room 208, Tacoma, WA
COST: $10 (suggested donation)
RSVP me to attend!

Writers & Poets:

Coping with trauma and pain is often the price of admission to a creative life. How can you harness those life experiences or memories--oftentimes painful or uncomfortable--recall them, write about them, and then turn them into poems?

Join Urban Grace Soul of the City Poet Laureate of Tacoma, Tammy Robacker, as she leads her next Poetry Writing Workshop on WRITING DEEPLY. This 2 hour writers workshop will focus on reading topic-relevant poetry on emotionally difficult subject matter, writing exercises, discussion, reading and sharing of each others work. This will be a supportive poet's environment focused on listening and helpful suggestions for improvement rather than intensive critique.

Please join me!

Sunday, September 26, 2010

An Ekphrastic Poem by me on youtube, yo.

I wrote a poem in response to Trinda Love's oil painting, "View from the Golden Rooms." Poet Hans Ostrom created a youtube video/reading of my poem and incorporated images from Trinda's painting. It's worth a visit, yo.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Robacker on youtube: My Money Is Broke

One of my friends, Hans Ostrom, is a professor, poet and amazing reader of poetry.

Check out this cool youtube video he made out of one of my 'recession' poems! His reading voice doing 'my' work sent shivers down my spine:

Monday, September 20, 2010

Join Me On An Author's Panel, Saturday in Sumner!


September 25, 10 am ~ 2:30 pm
Sumner Senior Center
15506 62nd Street Ct. East – Sumner, WA 98390

All Readers, Writers & Wannabes are Invited:
Join Poet Laureate and published poet, Tammy Robacker, along with 7 published authors for an informative, fun open forum and discussion at Sumner’s 2nd annual authors’ event.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Transforming Lives with Art, SHOWCASE Magazine, FALL 2010

Because I believe art and poetry can help heal the spirit and strengthen the soul of those who have been hurt by some of life's brutal forces, I am always interested in covering the arts as therapy in my journalism efforts.

It is a topic I love to write about. Mainly, because I get to meet and interview the most inspirational and creative people who are out in the world, saving the lives and healing the hearts of children and teenagers who have been neglected, abused and abandoned by their families or by society.

My heart and my art goes out to the people, the poets, and the artists who are courageous and willing to take what is terrible and spin it into gold.

Here is a recent article I wrote about Hilltop Glass Artists program that helps struggling youth:

Monday, July 26, 2010

Self-Publish? Agent? Small Press? Where will your writing fit?

Join me THIS sunday, august 1 for a writers workshop focused on Publishing!

In addition to the hunger many people have to publish their collection of poems, or write their first novel, they simply do not know where to start once the manuscript takes shape. It is daunting for writers and poets to consider the overwhelming world of publication options. Can you self-publish? Should you get an agent? What is the benefit of working with small presses?

To help answer these questions and offer publishing inspiration to Tacoma's writers and poets, I will be offering a class called, Indie Lit Chicks on Publishing: A Writers Workshop on Sunday, Aug. 1 from 2-4:30 p.m. for only $10 at Urban Grace Church. RSVP me directly:

Joining me to co-teach and host a Q&A session on topics such as self-publication, literary agents, funding, marketing and independent press publication will be two guest authors, Gina Frangello and Zoe Zolbrod. The authors will also read from their latest novels and books will be available for purchase and signing.


Friday, July 23, 2010

Can Poetry Save the World? by TLR

Here is a very special editorial feature I wrote about Richard Gold's non profit Pongo Poetry Project helping troubled teens in Tacoma for City Arts Magazine:

Is Writing a Book on Your Bucket List? Aug. 1

Many of us have a deep desire to write a book before we die.

Perhaps you have always wanted to write a book but don't know where to start. Or maybe you have chapters for a novel or a drawer full of poetry, and you just don't know what to do with them? Take your first step toward making a dream come true and attend my Poet Laureate workshop--open to poets & writers of all styles:

Indie Lit Chicks on Publishing: A Writers Workshop
on August 1, Sunday at 2-4:30 pm!
at Urban Grace Church, Tacoma, WA
Cost: $10 suggested donation.
Email Your Name to RSVP:

Join three published women writers and editors to get helpful publication information, encouragement, support, creative ideas and inspiration to write your own book this year! Come enjoy a rich, helpful lecture on how to publish your work by three women who were told no many times or rejected, but did it by themselves anyway! Enjoy a discussion, author lecture, author and poet readings, book signings and more. You will be an active part of the intensive Q&A we will be hosting about courage, commitment, funding, nuts & bolts, and creative marketing with writers just like you who started off with only a dream. You Can Do It!

Teachers & Guests include:
Tammy Robacker, Co-editor of In Tahoma's Shadow (2009), freelance editorial writer, 2010 Tacoma Poet Laureate and published poet, The Vicissitudes (2009);
Zoe Zolbrod, Zine creator and author of newly released novel: Currency (2010);
Gina Frangello, small press editor and published author of newly released: The Slut Lullabies;

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Tacoma Weekly News Article on my Poetry Workshop: 7/18

Great article on my workshop this sunday and a bit about co-teachers & guests Kisha Xiomara Palmer, Josh Rizeberg and Quincy Q Dot Henry in the Tacoma Weekly today!

Still room for more students! Email me your RSVP :)

Read all about it:

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Badlands by Way of Bus, 1983

This is a poem based on one of the many teenage memories i have of being shuttled back and forth the US by greyhound bus. We rode for 3000 mile, 4 day treks across the states after my parents got divorced and chose to live on opposite coasts. I have not been able to shake, for decades, the sad impression south dakota and generally many parts of middle america left upon me. The people and the places seen from a bus window. A grievousness threaded through those unending, arid, desolate areas that i could not ignore or shrug off. It seemed to overcome me... and the heat-- suffocating! To be sure, the sad world of it mirrored the room of my own heavy heart.

Badlands by Way of Bus, 1983

The summer my mother sent me back east
to let my father handle things
I saw South Dakota streak itself
into one hot, monotonous painted nude.

There, linear beige landscape edges
blurred and drowsed in the browning
noontime heat. The whole busload of us
lumbering in and out of restless sleep
across that flat bleary expanse
of ochre prairie
and acres of lashing grass.

It overcame me, all that impossibility
and lifelessness; dead from trying
as far as the eye could see
save the apparition of austere green mileposts.
They existed as the only place of interest
once my Sony Walkman batteries quit.
The steel rectangular markers
racked up points of desperation.
Always approaching
then leaving. Counting off failure
and lost hope in whole numbers
to me and the other passengers:
you are going somewhere;
you are going nowhere.
I watched them grow in size
to infinity—
Until they didn’t count at all.

Miles later
an oval-shaped, peach sign face
broke the monotony
as we lurched into Rapid City.
Up ahead, it waved to me—
as if making a promise
above the baking pavement heat
until I realized
it was just another gritty teenage girl
like me. A runaway, I guessed,
strapped down with a crappy knapsack.
In a t-shirt with no bra,
and jeans that had been drawn upon
with magic marker—her thighs covered
in peace symbols, butterflies and hearts.

I would runaway from here too,
if I were smart, I thought, as I watched
the gust from our stopping bus
blow dust and lift her
cornsilk hair high up
in mermaid waves.
I heard the word, Caliente
hiss like compression brakes
from the Montana farmhand
who carried a duct-taped cardboard box
as luggage. He clucked his tongue
from the back of the bus
having been waiting
to read a sign like this
since clear back in Bozeman.

--Tammy Robacker

Monday, June 28, 2010

1st Poet Laureate Writers Workshop - Sun. July 18, 2 pm

The 2010 Soul of the City Writers Workshop Series
Hosted and facilitated by Urban Grace's 2010 Poet Laureate, Tammy Robacker

at Urban Grace Church
902 Market Street
Tacoma, WA 98402-3605
(253) 272-2184

Sunday, July 18, at 2-4:30 p.m.
Poetry Performance Workshop: Reading Your Work Aloud in Public

$10 Donation - Bring check or cash to the class on the day you attend.
(a $10 donation is suggested to help pay the instructors/guests, however if you can't pay and really want to attend, you can donate whatever amount is more doable or just come for FREE!)

Class spaces are limited. RSVPing is required. Simply email your RSVP with your name, and the title of this workshop in your email to:

Join guest teacher, writer, playwright & actress Kisha X. Palmer as she leads discussions with poet laureate and former public speaking instructor, Tammy Robacker on how to read poetry aloud, combat nervousness, impromptu reading and confidence building. Special appearance and performance by two local Spoken Word artists: Josh Rizeberg and Quincy 'Q Dot' Henry. Both poets will visit to perform, share pointers and inspiration on memorization and stage presence. Attendees are encouraged to bring 2-3 of their own poems for classroom activities and stand up exercises. Don't be shy! Join in the fun!CLASS LECTURE TO INCLUDE THESE TOPICS:-Stage as Sacred Space
A discussion on the privilege of being on stage and the dynamics inherently at play before you even open your mouth as the performer
Attitude of gratitude
Letting the audience take you in
Exercise: Entrance and Exit-Walking the Plank - an exploration of the way we carry our bodies

-Timing is everything
A discussion of the value and importance of reading out loud at home, an exploration of the pause-and what kind of eye contact do you use?
Exercise: Styles (we will practice diferent styles of speech --operatic, twang, loud, super fast) with text and then find a neutral.

-Your audience wants to love you
A discussion of the attitude and assumptions that might keep us from being our brightest best self at our readings!

.....And so much more!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Wine takes flight in Oly: SWING Bar

In my freelance writing endeavors, I am expanding my horizons (and palate) to write more about food and wine. Since both are a huge love for me --as well as cooking and feeding folks--I feel it is another rich, exploratory arena for me to be creative. I have begun writing some restaurant reviews for SHOWCASE Magazine, and it's sort of one of those jobs that ends up feeling like it's not really a job because you simply love what you are doing (and eating) so much that it just does not feel like work. Here is my latest write-up on the wine bar SWING in Olympia for SHOWCASE--Summer Issue.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

06/24: New Poet Laureate Letterpress Posters


The Tacoma Public Library welcomes poet Tammy Robacker for a premiere reading to celebrate being named 2010 Soul of the City Tacoma Poet Laureate on Thursday, June 24 at 7 p.m. at the downtown Main Library. This event is free and open to the public--cosponsored by Urban Grace Church.

At the June 24 premiere reading, special guests will also be joining Robacker to celebrate poetry, Urban Grace's poet laureate program, and her introduction to the local community. Both former Soul of the City Poet Laureates Antonio Edwards and William Kupinse will be reading their work in honor of the event. Also, three of this year's 2010 Poet Laureate contest candidates, Brittany Short, Deborah Renee Crespo , and Pamela McCauley, will share poetry they submitted for application to the competition. Robacker has also invited Puyallup High School senior, Madison Hamel, to open her premiere with a special poem recital. Hamel was the winning 2010 Poetry Out Loud competition finalist in Pierce County this year.

Also taking place that evening, letterpress artist, Jessica Spring ( and poet, Tammy Robacker ( will be rolling out Tacoma's first Poet Laureate Commemorative Broadside series. Both artists partnered this spring to create the first ever letterpress poetry poster celebrating the Soul of the City Poet Laureate program in Tacoma. Robacker is hoping a tradition has been started to honor the poets and the growing legacy of the poet laureate program by having an annual letterpress broadside created for each new poet who wins the contest. The broadside posters of Robacker's poetry are coupled with Spring's acclaimed letterpress artwork. The posters are limited edition and collectible. They will be signed and sold at the event. Proceeds from the sale of the broadsides will go to support the Urban Grace Poet Laureate program and the artists who created them.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

POEMemories - The Old, Red Phone

For quite some time, I have wanted to write a poem about a very early memory of mine: The first phone our family had. I will never forget that clunky, red rotary phone that hung on the wall of our first house. The smooth feel of it; the memory of learning how to use it. It was all so profound to me, I have carried the memory with me for years. I also NEVER forgot our first phone number: 814 336 5864. My father kept that phone number for 40 years or more, until he retired, moved, and eventually passed away in 2004. Here is a poem of mine that attempts to tap into that memory and create the phone as metaphor to make more palpable the sense of foreboding and loss that I, as an adult, would eventually come to know.

The Old, Red Phone

I am four years old
poking one digit in the O hole
of a new, red rotary phone.
of what I do not know,
I dial out
of our very first home
and leave my parents behind;
all alone. There,
where my father shaved
his foamy cloud cheeks
over the old pink sink.
Back then, when my mother
breathed in
the lavender-scented sheets
before she made the beds.
Hello, says my voice
on the other end.
There’s nobody home,
reveals a truth I know.
A tone iced by time
and brittle as bone.
Bitter as a cold wind
that’s kicked in and cut the line.
It drops me. Knocks me
forward by forty years.
I smear the slow empty zero
of what I already know
across the phantom face
of my folk’s old, red phone.

--by Tammy Robacker

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Robacker Runs 'Poetry Station' at King's Fundraiser 06/13

June 13 * 11 am - 4 pm. Artist Craft Fair!

Tacoma Is For Lovers - Fundraiser for KING'S Books - Tacoma, WA
Sunday, June 13.

TIFL presents a special Artist Craft Fair Fundraiser!

A multitude of local artists will have tables featuring arts, crafts, jewelry, letterpress prints, t-shirts, poetry and more!

Also, as Tacoma's new Poet Laureate I will be hosting a 'poetry station' at the event. For a small donation to benefit Kings, attendees can have a personal hand-written poem created just for them by me on the spot - Signed, Dated and Personalized! Other local Tacoma poets will be joining me during the day to help write poems for folks who donate to support Kings Books!

A raffle and silent auction further assure you will go home with wicked art if you make a benevolent contribution. Your purchases help support artists in Tacoma! Part of the proceeds also go to King's Books to help finance changes needed to keep the business viable! Participating artists include Maggie Roberts, Mirka Hokkanen, Chandler O'Leary, Miranda Pollitz, Laurie Cinotto, Ryan Loiselle & Rochelle Wells, Lisa Hasegawa, Jessica Bender, Stella Crumpton, Connie DeBruler, Lindsey Barnes, Oliver Doriss, and Kelsey Parkhurst.

Tacoma Is For Lovers is a community-based organization that annually produces two Artist Craft Fairs and monthly Craft Nights in order to promote the visibility of local artists and encourages reuse, intentionality, sustainability and high craft.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Getting Ekphrastic with Tacoma painter, Trinda Love

This painting, done by artist Trinda Love, hung at the Grand Impromptu Gallery before it closed last year so the Grand Cinema could expand their theater into the space. I wrote an Ekphrastic poem in response to her work, titled: On "View from the Golden Rooms'. Mostly I was struck by the golden light and color she captures and the profound tangibility of her perspective here, done in thick, chunky painted strokes. Love painted this 'en plein air' --which means she did it in the open air of that space, and I keyed in to her concept dramatically as a poet. When viewing the painting, I felt like I was transported into that very room--able to stretch my own arms out of the window and feel the breeze and warm sun on my skin while listening to the city traffic below. If you're a poet looking for new sources of inspiration, I encourage poets to 'Get Ekphrastic' and write in response to art, music, painting or sculpture surrounding you. It's a great way to break out of the writing doldrums some of us experience from time to time.

On ‘View from the Golden Rooms’
A Painting by Trinda Love

I spy up high
with my golden eye
a moment so vibrant
so bright so wide
the window view
has let in the sun
pushing me out of myself.

I lean off the painting’s edge.
A ledge lit so lustrous and warm
the outside buildings sizzle
orange. Luscious as citrus,
the concrete world below
has mastered the miraculous.
Cracked open hopeful
en plein air
and bore fruit. Alight,
from a gilded view,
at such grand height,
I greet the plum-purple streets
and eat this day ripe.

--Tammy Robacker

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Zach Attack in Tac! SYS Founder Reads 06/04

Welcome to the June update from!

It's been awhile since Zach Street has graced us with his 'juicy teriyaki mecca' of Tacoma spoken word poetry. Last year he left Tacoma and moved to Hawaii but his spoken word group, Speak Your Soul is still being run by volunteers in Tacoma. While on the big island, Zach is putting his poetic touch on their arts community too. He's started up a Speak Your Soul chapter in Hawaii now--where events like the Volcano Slam and Hilo Spoken Word occur.

After some international travelling, Zach has found himself back in town short term and he's checkin' in on his literary baby: SYS, Tacoma. He will be the featured poet Friday night and if you have seen him before, you know what a fine, talented, energetic and clever spoke word artist he is--This brother beams with more positive energy and light than there are vowels in the word 'Namaste.'

Not only is Zach guest reading at SYS Friday, but SYS premieres in their new venue at The Den Tea Bar. Their former Tacoma reading venue, Vinum Wine Bar, shut down for business in March 2010 and SYS has been homeless for the past two months.

On Friday, June 4th Zach will be featuring at the Speak Your Soul open mic: The Den Tea Bar on Pacific Ave inside Urban Xchange. The Tacoma Team and Zach Street are excited to welcome you to the new skool location and celebrate one of Tacoma's best old skool spoken word artists! Don't miss this! 8pm.

Make June 2010 the month you speak your soul - because everyone has something to say.

New & Upcoming Poetry Events - Tacoma:
6/4: Speak Your Soul featuring Zach Street @ The Den Tea Bar
6/11: Distinguished Writer Series @ Kings Books
6/18: Mouths & Mics @ Cafe Messina
6/24: Tammy Robacker (Tacoma's Poet Laureate) Reading @ Tacoma Public Library
6/25: Free Ya Mind @ Tully's

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Weekend Wonder

My Memorial Day weekend has been spite of the incessant rain and no big travel plans. On Sunday, Tim and I got up at the crack of dawn to go searching for a Sunday edition of the Tacoma News Tribune--still in our pajamas. We felt like kids on Christmas morning, driving around with bed head hair at 7 am -- looking for a TNT paper box. After securing a stack of newspapers, we bought warm apple fritters fresh out the oven and plunked down at Stadium Tully's to sip big coffees and read all about it:). The TNT has done a 2 page spread on my poetry today, my new role as poet laureate in Tacoma and coupled the text with a lovely Tacoma photo montage.

I feel very honored and have so much gratitude today I feel I will burst. I am surrounded by love and humbly accept the gifts that the universe is sending my way. Gifts I am mightily gracious for as I have a deep well of loss by which to compare them:

Thursday, May 27, 2010



TACOMA, WA --Urban Grace: the Downtown Church is excited to present poet Tammy Robacker for a premiere reading to celebrate being named 2010 Soul of the City Tacoma Poet Laureate on Thursday, June 24 at 7 p.m. at the Tacoma Public Library—Main Branch. This event is free and open to the public.

After thoughtful deliberation, a panel of five local judges chose Robacker’s application for its excellence in poetry, commitment to the Tacoma arts community, and strength in leadership. Judges included current Laureate Antonio Edwards, former Laureate William Kupinse, Emily Noelle-Ignacio, Grace Livingston, and Holly Senn.

“Tammy Robacker has been a consistent and productive artist on the poetry scene of Tacoma for several years. When I heard that that judges had chosen her to be our next Poet Laureate I thought it was an excellent choice,” said Tad Monroe, Pastor at Urban Grace: A Downtown Church. “Tammy has worked hard to forge strong relationships within the diverse and eclectic world of Tacoma poets. Finally, her work speaks for itself. She is a fine crafter of words without sentimentality or cliche and she explores the widths and depths of the human experience from the funny, to the painful, to the socially conscience and the spiritual. She can make you laugh and she can make you cry and at the end of the day; what else is there?”

At the June 24 premiere reading, special guests will also be joining Robacker to celebrate poetry, Urban Grace’s poet laureate program, and her introduction to the local community. Both former Soul of the City Poet Laureates Antonio Edwards and William Kupinse will be reading their work in honor of the event. Also, three of this year’s 2010 Poet Laureate contest candidates, Brittany Short, Deborah Renee Crespo, and Pamela McCauley, will share poetry they submitted for application to the competition. Robacker has also invited Puyallup High School senior, Maddison Hamel, to open her premiere with a special poem recital. Hamel was the winning 2010 Poetry Out Loud competition finalist in Pierce County this year.

As Poet Laureate, Robacker will perform once a month at Urban Grace, by request at Urban Grace events, as well as lead two FREE public poetry workshops in Tacoma for the community. Over the next year, Robacker will also participate actively by supporting poets, poetry and literary arts education in the local community, and hosting monthly poetry writing workshops.

If you are interested in working with Robacker or having her read for your school, organization or event, please visit her website: and send her a personal request. If you would like more information about the Soul of the City Poetry Competition or the Poet Laureate position, please email Nicolette Paso, Urban Grace Program Associate at, call 253.272.2184 x106, or visit

Monday, May 24, 2010

Tacoma's 'Poetry in the 253': Sooo Dialed In!

Former Poet Laureate Antonio Edwards Jr. passed on the torch to me as the new Poet Laureate for Tacoma. So, with that duty off his plate, one thing keeping him busy now is that he has taken on the ambitious project of starting a NEW Open Mic here in the City of Destiny.

At newly opened Cafe Messina at 744 Market St., AE hosts Poetry in the 253 every 3rd Friday of the month at 7 p.m. Last Friday nite I got to do my first reading there as PL. It was an honor to be sure, but mostly, I was struck by the buoyant energy and support of the crowd and fellow poets. From freestyle sista spits to one poet reading poetry about fighting cancer to a controversial piece shared from a right to life perspective, Poetry in the 253 as a whole was supportive and collective. I haven't clapped or laughed or yakked that much at a poetry reading since 1998--when I went to my first Nuyorican Poetry Slam event in Southern California.

Antonio makes a gracious and encouraging emcee. New poets or writers will find him particularly welcoming and inviting. Not to mention, the night wouldn't be complete without a poem or two dramatically performed by him. Antonio also told me, some weekdays, he stops into Cafe Messina at lunch time and just for the heck of it, he ambushes the lunch crowd by performing his spoken word poetry. He will start doing a poetry performance smack dab in the middle of a rush. I asked him, do people actually stop talking and eating and carrying on to listen to your poem? Antonio said, Yes! I've made some pretty good tips at it too! ;)

If you are up for anything literary on a Friday night, dial in to Poetry in the 253 and be sure to bring something to read. I have no doubt that soon this open mic will have such a devoted loyal following it will be standing room only.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Owen Beach Debris photo by TLR

Owen Beach Aubade - a new Tacoma poem

Owen Beach Aubade

Much like the greatest sea treasures
we set out to comb, you arrive to me
broken. Like an old green wine bottle
that no longer remembers what filled it before
or how its vintage was spoken, it chooses now
to be repurposed. To be tossed in tide violence.
To be knocked silly by indifference. To be left. Alone.
Then, woken up polished as a trinket. Divined
amidst wet rockweed and foul wrack
and renamed mine and fit to my hand.
It is much like love at our middle age,
how the turned out jellyfish does not amaze us
because it was once beautiful or swam. We recognize it
now because it stings. Because high tide pulled out
hours ago, and there it shines. Quite alive and bubbling
on the pebbled beach, that moony clear bell still continues
to beat, plump and smooth as a young heart
braving this brackish shore.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

PL Interview with Tacoma's media genie Electric Elliot Trotter

Although I have met him and worked with him before on various Tacoma poetry projects and readings (hint: he's published work in In Tahoma's Shadow, which I co-edited with Bill Kupinse), I was really happy to hang out with Electric at The Melon recording studio and just chat.

Being a poet and a journalist myself, I felt he did a great job interviewing...Asking solid questions and just understanding the nature, role and responsibilities the Tacoma Poet Laureate takes on. Check out our interview:

A couple spots toward the last 10 minutes get skippy -- which unfortunately happens during the reading of two poems of mine. But Electric and I thought it added to the Pirate Radio feel of it all!

Friday, May 7, 2010

Robacker Reads The Vicissitudes at Vinum