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Abi Pollokoff’s project for the 2021 Jack Straw Writers Program is “a collection of poems that is a womaning, a reclaiming of agency and voice.” In her conversation with curator E.J. Koh, they discuss reclaiming what it means to be a woman, the relationship between sound and language, and the reckoning occurring within the literary community. “I think, for me, thinking about this musicality or this attention in poems is almost a way for me to practice what I feel like I need to be doing in my own life.”

Abi is a Seattle-based writer and book artist with work in Denver Quarterly, Foundry, Poetry Northwest, and Black Warrior Review, among others. She has held fellowships or residencies with the Hugo House, the Seattle Review of Books, and more. Abi is the events manager for Open Books: A Poem Emporium, the managing editor for Poetry Northwest Editions, and a content director in visual communications. She received her MFA from the University of Washington.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by Andrew Weathers, produced in part through the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Troy Osaki’s project for the 2020 Jack Straw Writers Program is a chapbook manuscript of poems that he began writing after visiting the Philippines for the first time in 2017. In his conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss poetry’s ability to create social change, his history with Youth Speaks, and cultural and familial connections. “I really learned that not only is . . . writing a way to get through the complicated things in life and to process, but it really, truly has the power to go beyond that and imagine new ways and what’s possible.”

Troy is a Filipino Japanese poet, community organizer, and attorney from Seattle, WA. A three-time grand slam poetry champion, he has received fellowships from Kundiman and the Jack Straw Cultural Center and is the recipient of an Artist Trust award. His work has appeared in the Bellingham Review, Drunk in a Midnight Choir, Moss: A Journal of the Pacific Northwest, and elsewhere.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

2020 Jack Straw writer Jose Trejo-Maya’s project is an extract of his poetry that is intended for a three-dimensional museum exhibit based on the Tonalpohualli, a Mesoamerican conception of time. In his conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss his organic writing process, his connection to the immigrant experience, and listening to the voices of his ancestors. “It just comes to me from what I know and the experience I have — it’s the people, the elders that have been with me. So, they tell me . . . to speak when you’re spoken to. And it’s just a refraction of where I come from, like the people before me. And I think it is my duty to not to let that the language die. Even now, keep it alive.”

Jose is a remnant of the Nahuatlacah oral tradition -a tonalpouhque mexica from the lowlands of a time and place that no longer exists. Published in UK, US, India, Spain, Australia, Argentina, Germany, and Venezuela. He is from Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico, where he lived in the small rural pueblo of Tarimoró. His inspiration(s) include Netzahualcoyotl, Humberto Ak’abal, Ray A. Young Bear, and James Welch. He was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2015 and was awarded Tercer Premio from El Centro Canario Estudios Caribeños – El Atlántico – en el Certamen Internacional de Poesía “La calle que tú me das” 2016. He was a New Rivers Press Many Voices Project 2018 Finalist. While in ceremony with Chololo medicine men in the Tule River Reservation, all this came from a dream written in prophecy.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Arianne TrueArianne True’s project for the 2020 Jack Straw Writers Program is a poetic “museum” that creates a safe space to engage in difficult subjects such as childhood sexual abuse. In her conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss the ritual of writing, engaging with experimental forms, and creating visceral experiences with words. “Through poetry, you can put an experience that you had or are having into someone else’s body and not make them think about it, but you can really help them experience it in a way that is safe and contained, and structured.”

Arianne is a queer poet and folk artist from Seattle and from the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations. Arianne has taught and mentored with Writers in the Schools (WITS), YouthSpeaks Seattle, and the Richard Hugo House, and is a proud alum of Hedgebrook and the MFA program at the Institute of American Indian Arts. She can be found playing banjo with her rats near the edge of the woods.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

2020 Jack Straw writer Jeffrey Lee Cheatham II’s project is a graphic novel titled Uhuru, a pirate adventure story centering Black characters. In his conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss the lack of Black representation in children’s literature, professional wrestling and Archie comics, and creating Black stories that expand beyond a monolithic experience. “One of the big things that really got me into creating my children’s book stories was the fact that every time I would read a story that had a Black protagonist, it always dealt with New York, Harlem, the country, civil rights or slavery. And my mindset was, we can fight dragons and be wizards and warlocks, too.”

Jeffrey Lee Cheatham II is an author from Seattle, WA. Since 2014, he has self-published three children’s books—The Family Jones and The Eggs of Rex, Why is Jane so Mad?, and Hi Blue Sky—to increase positive representation of children of color in books. In 2016, Jeffrey created the Seattle Urban Book Expo, with the mission of providing a platform for fellow authors of color to showcasing their literary arts in the Pacific Northwest.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

2020 Jack Straw writer Helen K. Thomas’s project is a collection of short stories that feature Black girl protagonists from the Pacific Northwest. In her conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss Young Adult fiction and expanding representation of young Black girls in those stories. “To be a part of that and to choose to be a part of that is something that I don’t take lightly and is something that I really, really honor because . . . I see how it’s changing the world. And I see how it’s creating compassion. And I see how it’s really moving the dial forward and moving our culture forward.”

Helen is from Seattle, WA by way of Lagos, Nigeria. She writes Young Adult fiction that illuminates the interiority of black girls as they navigate joy and pain and love and loss while living in the Pacific Northwest. Recently, she was part of the inaugural Tin House YA Fiction Workshop and is thrilled to be a 2020 Jack Straw Writers Fellow.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Rob ArnoldRob Arnold’s project for the 2020 Jack Straw Writers Program is a poetic memoir that tackles the complex legacies of familial trauma. In his conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss cross-genre writing, the distance and connection created by language, and matching linguistic precision with visual expansion. “I started thinking about these things in a much more in-depth way. Every single noun became like a hyperlink, like I could dive in deep into the history. So, I was able to kind of turn my poems from these tiny, little jewels into much more developed pieces.”

Rob’s poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Gettysburg Review, Poetry Northwest, Hyphen, RED INK, Yes Poetry, and The Ocean State Review, among others. His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and has received support from the Somerville Arts Council and Artist Trust. He is a Program Director and Curator of Events at Hugo House.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Ching-In Chen2020 Jack Straw writer Ching-In Chen’s project is a series of experimental prose poems inspired by their relationship to breath, and the Texas Tax Day Flood of 2016. In their conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss their process of creating in a hybrid genre, representation in art, and creating within community. “What surprised me is I never knew what people would get out of my work. The people who I never would have imagined would respond to my work, would start talking to me and coming up to me . . . it sparked these conversations with other artists or with community members or, you know, folks.”

Ching-In is a genderqueer Chinese American hybrid writer, community organizer, and teacher. They are author of The Heart’s Traffic (Arktoi/Red Hen Press) and recombinant (Kelsey Street Press; winner of 2018 Lambda Literary Award for Transgender Poetry), as well as the chapbooks how to make black paper sing (speCt! Books, 2019) and Kundiman for Kin :: Information Retrieval for Monsters (Portable Press at Yo-Yo Labs and a Finalist for the Leslie Scalapino Award). Chen is also co-editor of The Revolution Starts at Home: Confronting Intimate Violence Within Activist Communities (South End Press, 2011; AK Press 2016) and Here Is a Pen: an Anthology of West Coast Kundiman Poets (Achiote Press, 2009). They have received fellowships from Kundiman, Lambda, Watering Hole, Can Serrat and Imagining America and are part of Macondo and Voices of Our Nations Arts Foundation writing communities. They are currently Assistant Professor at the University of Washington Bothell.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

Michelle GoodmanMichelle Goodman’s project for the 2020 Jack Straw Writer’s Program is a creative nonfiction piece that deals with dying and grief. In her conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss navigating the balance between telling the truth and what remains untold, shaping nonfiction, and writing as an act of understanding. “I’ve always liked telling true life stories. I think it helps us make sense of life and the world and helps other people feel less alone when they read and relate to a story that speaks to them.”

Michelle is a journalist and creative nonfiction writer. Her personal and reported essays have appeared in the Washington Post, Seattle Times, Salon, Narratively, Magenta, Proto, and several anthologies. She is author of the books The Anti 9-to-5 Guide and My So-Called Freelance Life, both published by Seal Press. She has been a writer in residence at Artsmith, Hedgebrook, Playa, and Whiteley Center. Although she is most known for writing about work, in 2016 she turned her attention to writing about death, grief, and the decaying body.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

2020 Jack Straw writer Ebo Barton’s poetry project is both a printed work and an audiobook. In their conversation with curator Anastacia-Renée, they discuss the differences between spoken word and page poetry, the pressure on artists to constantly produce, and what it means to share work aloud. “When I say the stage is my church, it actually is my church and that’s what I’m doing for me at that point in time. And if somebody grabs onto it, cool, but I’m gonna keep going.”

Ebo is a Black and Filipino, Transgender and Non-Binary, poet and educator. Currently residing in Seattle, Washington by way of Los Angeles, California. For the past 12 years, they have participated in national and international poetry slam competitions as a representative of Seattle. Their most notable poetry slam accolade is placing 5th in the world in 2016. You may have seen Ebo’s work in Adrienne: A Poetry Journal by Sibling Rivalry Press, Thriving While Trans: A Love Manual, Natasha Marin’s Black Imagination, Write About Now, Button Poetry, and All Def Poetry. They and their work have been featured in Seattle Weekly, Seattle Gay News, Seattle Review of Books, and Crosscut. Their work touches on political issues from a personal point of view and often is birthed from the struggles of living in the identities that they are. Ebo believes in the power of language and art as a tool for revolution.

SoundPages was produced by Jack Straw Cultural Center as part of the Jack Straw Writers Program. All of the writers heard in this series are published in the Jack Straw Writers Anthology, and featured online at www.jackstraw.org. Music by SassyBlack, produced as part of the Jack Straw Artist Support Program.

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