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