Writing Day with Susan Rich with Cameo Appearances by Gardner McFall & Henri Cole.

Last week I was lucky enough to have a writing day with Martha Silano, this week, Susan Rich.

Since I have moved out of the city, when I want to visit/write with friends, one of us needs to take a ferry.  It's always nice to take a ferry on a sunny day and yesterday was beautiful.  Though I dressed too optimistically in shorts and was a little cold when we were by the water.  I also wore socks with sandals, oh stylish saints and poets, please forgive me, I know the error of my ways...

Here's Susan and I in her writing studio, House of Sky. It's a converted garage and an absolutely wonderful place to write.

We began our day with coffee, talk, and a walk to our favorite restaurant where we ate chicken chop salad, which is one of my very favorite meals. Afterwards, because we were a little short on time (and I was freezing in shorts), we walked back to her house for writing time. On the menu there--3 kinds of dark chocolate.

We wrote for about 2 1/2 hours, doing some 7 minute writing exercises (where we just wrote from a prompt) to trying new things where you write a "how-to" poem. We ended with writing an ekphrastic poem (a poem about an image or artwork) and I think we both felt we got something we could use in the future from that exercise.

We packed up our things in the House of Sky then jumped into the car to see the new Elliott Bay Bookstore location up on Capitol Hill (it is incredible up there and oh-so-busy! Yah readers!).

We found a seat to the right of the stage to see Gardner McFall & Henri Cole.

Some thoughts on that reading--

1) Susan & I did not recognize one person in the audience AND they were dressed *really* well. We decided this was not the standard poetry audience, but many of them were opera fans who were there because of Gardner's book Amelia: The Libretto, which the Seattle Opera is performing.

Gardner read from her book Russian Tortoise, while Henri read from Pierce the Skin: Selected Poems, 1982-2007.

Both had very gentle reading voices and I could have listened to them even longer.

2) The new location of the readings for Elliott Bay Books is in the basement so occasionally when someone flushed the toilet in one of the upstairs bathrooms, the sound of rushing water covered their voices. I do hope Elliott Bay will get this fixed, it was charming for about 2 minutes. Same with the sounds of high heels (who wears high heels to a bookstore?) on the wood floor above.

3) Random fact- I almost named my daughter Gardner, I love that name.

4)  Both poets read very narrative work so each poem was like a perfect story. I think the audience appreciates understanding the poem when listening.  Neither read anything too abstract, which I appreciate when the book is not in front of me.


I bought two books - It Is Daylight (Yale Series of Younger Poets) by Arda Collins and Mortal Geography by Alexandra Teague. (Random fact-- we also considered naming our daughter Teague as it's Irish for "poet," but we felt that was a bit of pressure for a little one coming into the world and I didn't want to choose her passion for her. I mean, what if she wasn't a poet?)

Afterward, Susan and I had dinner at the busy restaurant next door, Oddfellows, which was loud with energy and people. The food there is delicious, we had some sort of fish with the word "escape" in its name, I want to say Escapeclaw, but I think I'm making this up. Did I mention it was loud in there? I'm pretty sure it was a kind of halibut.

We had a lovely dinner where we talked about where we could design bookmarks online and order them (anyone have any suggestions?) then I was whisked off to the ferry to make the 9 pm sailing. The ferry was filled with grumpy Mariner fans--they should have gone to the poetry reading and they would have been feeling inspired like me.

Ferry ride home: Goodbye Seattle, I am an albatross...


  1. Hi Kelli,
    It was a magical day and evening. I think the fish we ate was "Skate wing"but it was very loud there -- and the food so delicious.

    I love that Otis came out to see you yesterday after how many years of our dates? I am now so very ready for our next one! Much love, Susan
    PS The photos of the reading are superb!

  2. Could it have been "escolar?" It's a white fish that's very oily.

    Sounds like such a fun day!

  3. hi, kelli!

    when i ordered sage cohen's book directly from her it came with a bookmark and a couple other really pretty print goodies.

    you might ask her. LMK if you need contact info!


  4. Susan & Jeannine - yes, the "SKATE wing" not the "escape wing..." another, more tricky kind of fish.

    Here it is--


    And thanks Carolee for the suggestion. Would you mind emailing me her email kelli (a) agodon.com I don't think I have it.

    thanks so much!


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