The Far Field, 2012 – 2014

This site is preserved as a record of Washington State poetry and poets from February 2012 – February 2014. The voices collected here include renowned and emerging poets, student poets, poets published for the first time, poets from all corners of the state.  All of these writers were residents of Washington at the time of their publication.

  • Most but not all of the links are functional. If you would like me to update a link, contact me at
  • The Carver/Roethke page includes downloadable poems by both poets.
  • Use the index (by first name) or the search box (above) to find poets and poems.
  • You can search using the following categories:  abuse, aging, Ars Poetica, children’s, cowboy, ekphrastic, elegy, environment, experimental, faith, family, feminism, food, form, hard times,health, history and events, humor, identity, language, love, memory, metaphor, miscarriage, mortality, music, myths and stories, now, peace, persona, philosophy, place, prose, science, seasons, sonnet, spoken word, student, translation, video, villanelle, work

Thanks to Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission for supporting the Washington State Poet Laureate Program.

And many thanks to the 370+ poets of Washington State for contributing their work to The Far Field.

Thank you for visiting.

Kathleen Flenniken


Dan Peters

Mom Stands Where the Orchard Stood


There was this one tree that did not go down. It was the last
of Matson’s orchard. I was four years old, standing next to Mom.
We’d been out all day with errands and returned home
to find the apple trees gone. A man pushed them into piles,
even those my mother had marked with pink tape.
And he would’ve knocked down the last one had we not
come home and had Mom not dropped her groceries
right there behind the garage and gone to the field and stood
with her hands on her hips until the man noticed her
and shut down his tractor. He came over long enough
to hear her say, You were supposed to leave
those trees. I marked them. His face was covered in dirt
and wet with perspiration. His brow lined into a question.
Mom’s face was cool and dry. Leave this tree, please. There is this one tree
across the right of way from the house that still grows apples,
still shades her children and grandchildren. Each year wild,
unpruned branches drop fruit like it’s nothing, like it is not alone.



Dan Peters teaches English at Yakima Valley Community College. Since 2010, Peters has been the co-editor of Blue Begonia Press, a publisher of poetry and fine literature. His own books, published by Jim and Karen Bodeen, former editors at Blue Begonia, include, Down the Road the Children Go (2009), The Reservoir (2002), and the chapbook, In the Easement of Absent Ties (1998). Peters lives in Selah with his wife and two children.


An update on The Far Field:

I will continue to post poets on The Far Field for the next week or two while Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen plans her new website and prepares to launch.  Keep reading! Elizabeth will give us some details soon about what to expect.  And don’t worry, The Far Field isn’t going anywhere. This site will remain online as a resource and a record of poetry in Washington, 2012 – 2014.


Floating Bridge Press is accepting submissions for their annual Poetry Chapbook Award until March 1, 2014.  The competition is open to residents of Washington State only. The winner receives book publication, a $500 Prize, 15 copies of the chapbook, and a Seattle-area reading. In addition to the chapbook, Floating Bridge Press publishes an annual journal, Floating Bridge Review. All individual poems submitted will be considered for publication in Floating Bridge Review, regardless of whether they are previously published.  Read the complete chapbook guidelines here, under “Submissions.”

Jack Straw announces the 2014 Jack Straw Writers, who will work this year with curator Felicia Gonzalez: Laurel Albina, Claudia Castro Luna, Margot Kahn, Loreen Lilyn Lee, Susan Meyers, John Mullen, Michelle Peñaloza, Gigi Rosenberg, Raúl Sánchez, Anastacia Tolbert, Jane Wong, and Kristen Millares Young.  Congratulations to all!

Elizabeth Austen is our new Washington State Poet Laureate!

The Official Word is out!


OLYMPIA —Elizabeth Austen has been appointed the 2014-16 Washington State Poet Laureate, effective Feb. 1. Austen, a Seattle resident, will be the state’s third poet laureate. Her appointment is sponsored by Humanities Washington and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA), with the support of Gov. Jay Inslee.
Austen will give her first reading as poet laureate with the 2012-14 Washington State Poet Laureate, Kathleen Flenniken, at Open Books in Seattle Feb. 16. (See below for details.)

As the poet laureate, Austen will build awareness and appreciation of poetry — including the state’s legacy of poetry — through public readings, workshops, lectures and presentations in communities, schools, colleges, universities and other public settings in geographically diverse areas of the state. Austen succeeds the 2012-2014 Washington State Poet Laureate, Kathleen Flenniken.

“We are thrilled with Elizabeth’s appointment as our next Washington State Poet Laureate. She will be an outstanding ambassador for poetry in our state and inspires a deep appreciation for the art in Washingtonians of all ages,” said ArtsWA Executive Director Kris Tucker.

In this role, Austen will serve a two-year term as the primary spokesperson, supporter and promoter of poetry in Washington. She will receive a stipend of $10,000 per year to help cover the cost of providing poetry programs and activities statewide.

“My aim is always to provide a frame that helps the listener ‘step into’ a poem,” said Austen. “I hope to reach people – even people who think they don’t like poetry – by sharing works that are both vivid and relatable.”

Austen is the author of a collection, Every Dress a Decision (Blue Begonia Press, 2011), and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Goes Alone (Floating Bridge Press, 2010) and Where Currents Meet (Toadlily Press, 2010). She produces literary programming for KUOW radio, a Seattle NPR affiliate, and is a communications specialist and educator at Seattle Children’s Hospital.

Austen moved to Washington in 1989, at the time a stage actor, avid hiker and occasional writer of poetry. After a transformative trip to the Andes region in her early 30s, Austen focused her efforts on poetry. Her work trends towards the personal, touching on issues such as women’s societal roles, courage and searching for spirituality.

“Elizabeth’s talent and her experience curating the works of local poets will enable her to step immediately into the role of Washington’s poetry ambassador to the general public.” said Julie Ziegler, Humanities Washington’s executive director. “She is a natural teacher, a skilled poet and is committed to sharing the power of poetry.”

What: The Passing of the Laurel: A Reading with Elizabeth Austen & Kathleen Flenniken
When: Feb. 16, 2014 at 3 p.m.
Where: Open Books: A Poem Emporium, 2414 N 45th St, Seattle, WA 98103
Cost: Free

On the Web: Humanities Washington’s events calendar [Details] or
Questions? Contact Abby Rhinehart at or (206) 682-1770 x108

The Washington State Poet Laureate program is sponsored by Humanities Washington and ArtsWA and funded by the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. In April 2007, the Washington State Legislature passed a bill that established the Washington State Poet Laureate position and recognized the value of poetry to the culture and heritage of the state. Kathleen Flenniken served as the Washington State Poet Laureate for a two-year term beginning January 2012; Sam Green served as the first Washington State Poet Laureate from 2008-10. More about the activities of the Washington State Poet Laureate can be found on the Humanities Washington website.

Established in 1961, ArtsWA collaborates with artists and arts organizations statewide to conserve, promote and develop artistic resources. For more about ArtsWA, visit

Celebrating its 40th anniversary of serving the state this year, Humanities Washington sparks conversation and critical thinking using story as a catalyst, nurturing thoughtful and engaged communities across our state. Through a wide network of partner organizations, Humanities Washington serves more than 500,000 Washingtonians each year with speakers, reading and discussion programs, traveling exhibits, grant support and more. For more about Humanities Washington, including a calendar of upcoming events, visit


And a little personal word:  I am delighted that Elizabeth Austen is taking over this role, which has been the most exciting and gratifying of my working life.  She is so beautifully equipped to take the job in new directions to an ever-growing state-wide audience. Elizabeth is a wonderfully accomplished poet. For years she has demonstrated her gift for building an audience for poets and poetry. It’s only fitting that she should carry on her excellent work in this very visible and official capacity.

Congratulations, Elizabeth! You’re going to be amazing.

Judith Yarrow

The Immigrant

He came, an immigrant, my father’s father,
to these lush valleys, marshlands, streams,
the hills glacier-scraped to subsoil
glacier-covered with stones, gravel, and silt.
On land grown over with fir and alder, he found
timber for house and barn, wood for cooking
in the dark mornings and long, dark afternoons
of rainy winters, green and damp as any
Norwegian spring, a paradise.
………………………………………With work
and luck, a lot of work—and luck is what you make it—
a man could raise a family here, build
a farm to last through all the generations.
No more beatings at the hand of the sea, no more
renting land, no more logging for the bosses.
A wife, children, beds filling room
after room, and neighbors near
enough to help but not to crowd.

……………………………………..A man could live a life
and forget how things change beyond calculation:
children grown, and gone, the barn slowly
melting into the earth of its timbers,
family and farm both long altered,
his hard-shelled dreams now gone to weed,
though he’d find traces still of what he planted.


“The Immigrant” is reprinted from New to North America: Writings by Immigrants, Their Children and Grandchildren (1997).


Long-time Seattle resident, Judith Yarrow is a poet, artist, editor. She has published two poetry chapbooks, The Immigrant and Borderlands. Her poems have appeared in Cicada, Clear-cut: An Anthology of Seattle Writers, Duckabush Journal, Edge: International Arts Interface, Bellowing Ark, North Country Anvil, and elsewhere. She lives with her husband in Southeast Seattle.

Elizabeth Landrum

Walking Meditation


This time we’ll walk in silence.
You’ll trip on hidden roots;
my boots will sink into sand
as we try to understand it all,
and fail, of course,
Our vows of silence, too,
will end,
our minds both hungry and full.

“This must be the way” you’ll say,
your voice blustery, assured,
gesturing onward
to the beyond.
I’ll follow, trusting
your sense of direction
more than mine. Surely
this time it will lead us
to the crucible.

But we’ll circle back
to where we’ve been,
with just a glint of recognition.
The truest test still lives
in a riddle
dangling above our crowns.
We can barely touch its edges
and never get
the gist of it.


Elizabeth Landrum, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist whose work has most recently appeared in Southern Womens ReviewGrey Sparrow, and RiverLit. Her poems have also been published in Shark Reef where she has served as co-editor for poetry.  She received her doctorate in Psychology from the University of Louisville and practiced as a private psychotherapist for 30 years in Louisville, KY and Edmonds, WA.  After retiring, she moved to an island in the San Juans where she shares a new home with her wife and two dogs.  She has found inspiration for her poetry from her beautiful Northwest surroundings, from the inner world of dreams, from stories of suffering and survival, as well as from other poets.


Christopher Arigo

I found a geophysicist


I find that I say
your name differently
and keep it safe in my mouth—
lips parted—just so—
to allow our sighs escape.

I learn new words: regolith or
batholith, syncline or anticline—

Which one are you? I wonder.
Downward or convex?

(Rego means blanket in Greek,
means cloaked in stone).


Questions sound different
when I ask you—
a softer lilt
end of line.

Or when you counter:
haiku or sonnet—which one are you?

(A haiku is a moment
snatched from time, says Basho).


Questions are weightier
somehow, yet afloat, drifting
almost like answers or mantle.

How far into the earth
are you willing to go?

(I want to be cloaked
in stone with you.

I want to snatch moments
from time for you).

Questions are plates waiting to collide,
waiting to make Himalayas.


Christopher Arigo‘s first poetry collection Lit interim won the 2001-2002 Transcontinental Poetry Prize (selected by David Bromige) and was published by Pavement Saw Press (2003). His second collection In the archives  (2007) was released by Omnidawn Publishing. He is an Assistant Professor of English at Washington State University in Pullman.


Donald Berk


The ram is making a fuss. Some goats
Got out. Three Boers, small ones, squeezed
Under the fence. One snout finds
Slack wire and the others follow. They bleat
Like Sanhedrin probing the law. Heaven’s
Always on the other side, even if
It’s the neighbor’s deadly
Rhododendrons. Now the three graze
Along the fence but you
Can’t herd them to the gate without
The dog. A loose nanny reads
Your next move like Bobby
Fischer. The flat brown eyes mask
A canny insolence until she
Curls her lips at you. But the dog doesn’t
Take any crap, as
My father would say. He was
A goat— a Capricorn.
We moved house eight times in
As many years. He died at number
Eight else it might have been more. The dead
Hold a lot of power. Just last night I dreamed
My mother motioned me into the back
Seat of Father’s big Buick where he
Sat at the wheel smoking
A cigar. She was a Pisces, so eager
To please. Maybe she
Still does on the other side. Maybe
They want me under the fence.


Donald Berk relocated to Yakima from Illinois after a career in tech biz. He returned to school at age 60 to indulge two dreams: an MFA in writing (Bennington) and a commercial pilot rating. As a volunteer for Tieton Arts & Humanities he has been fortunate to help sponsor LitFuse since its inception. His novella, In Search of Wings Lost, a riff on Attar’s epic medieval poem, “The Conference of the Birds”, was published in 2007.


Leigh Hancock

My Dentist


My dentist has hair
the color of lint,
stubble (at least
on the days I see him)
and wrinkles around his ears.

He leans back (too far I think),
elbows stiff
like a child
holding his first sparkler,
thoughts in Missouri perhaps
or lost in last night’s bouillabaisse.

Come closer, I murmur,
but my mouth is a steel bouquet,
my tongue corralled in rubber.
The hurts of this life
(and maybe one or two more)
huddle with me on the long green chair,
a boatful of refugees
drifting toward pain.

Come closer, dear dentist.
Look past the cracked crown
and yellow decay,
the rumpled gums and downy chin,
gaze deep into the basement of my fear,
the pilot light that keeps
the whole house warm,
and tell me without solace
what you see.

Put aside your drill, lower your mask.
The smell of burning bone is everywhere.
This is as close as we ever get.
Lean closer,

Leigh Hancock has been writing poems for most of her life.  She has an MFA in writing from the Universityof Virginia, where she was a Henry Hoyns Fellow.  She has also received fellowships from the Wurlitzer Foundation, Hedge brook Via Montalvo and Fishtrap.  Her work has been published in several anthologies and magazines including Calyx, Mothering and Sundog.  She lives lives in White Salmon along the Columbia Gorge with her husband, son and border collie.

Kerry Ruef


Poetry, “Planet Hand,” and The Private Eye

On a hot summer day many years ago, I’d been thinking about the enormous power of the metaphor mind, the mind that sees the world through the lens and network of analogy. The doors of my studio were open and bees sometimes swept in and began banging their heads against the skylight. The bamboo outside was rustling like taffeta skirts and it was an altogether lovely day to be thinking.

 I glanced, by chance, at my bookshelves and saw an eye loupe sitting there, next to the clay alligator. (An eye loupe — or jeweler’s loupe — is a magnification tool that looks like a tiny top hat. You hold it so the flared end cups one of your eyes, while an object of study is held about two inches away.) A friend, the architect Fred Bassetti, had given it to me. He’d shown me seedpods that he kept in a box. Strange and exotic seed pods from Africa and Latin America. He’d drawn lessons for architecture from those pods.

 I picked up the loupe and wondered. Everything has an unlocked secret. What was the secret of the loupe? I’d been a classroom teacher in San Diego, but in Seattle I’d thrown myself into “the writing life”. Both worlds ticked like dueling, sometimes rhyming, clocks inside me. What secret did the loupe hold that perhaps kids, or even adults, could use?

 I had nothing exotic to explore, so I looked at the closest thing: my hand. It was like another planet… dry as a desert, folded and rumpled like the earth seen from an airplane. It was like a quilt and reminded me of chicken tracks in the mud and of Buckminster Fuller’s geodesic dome and the lines made me think of expansion joints in the facades of buildings. I had really never seen my hand before! Since I was in the habit of writing poetry, a poem about my hand bubbled up. It was so easy and so much fun. But what was the question that drove the lines of my poem? Ah. “What else does it remind me of? What else does it look like? What else? What else? What else?” With the loupe and that first question, kids could generate all sorts of writing! Then I went outside. I slid down the throat of a foxglove, traipsed across a furry leaf, and took a walk on the back of a beetle. Poems came tumbling out, but also scientific questions and mathematical inquiries. I practiced drawing a flower through a loupe.

 That afternoon The Private Eye program was born.

 The Private Eye Project, originally grant-funded and piloted in the Seattle Public Schools, has grown into a national program. It brings out the poet, scientist, and artist in anyone. With the help of the loupe — which smashes stereotypes — and four simple questions, students and adults easily generate “the bones-for-poems”, the bones for stories, essays, reflections, then move into hypothesizing, theorizing, inventing, designing.

 Here’s an example of a child’s poem using the process:

My Hand

I sat on a brown miniature rock
Looking at all the big rocks above me
I looked farther out
I saw the cracks that ruined the light skinned road
As they dried up, weeds blew along with short scars
The blue waters made continuous ripples

Natasha, 6th grade, Mercer Middle School, Seattle Public Schools

For 25 years now, kids and adults have been using The Private Eye approach to write, draw and theorize across subjects. What’s the larger purpose? It’s to build the habits of mind of writer, artist and scientist — in one fluid motion.


 NOTE: Some elements of the above article are adapted from the introduction to The Private Eye — (5X) Looking / Thinking by Analogy: A Guide to Developing the Interdisciplinary Mind, by Kerry Ruef (The Private Eye Project, 1992, 1998, 2003).


Kerry Ruef is founder and director of The Private Eye Project, a hands-on program to spark creativity and critical thinking that fuses poetry, science, and art, K-16 through life. The recipient of numerous grants and awards, in 1979, on a year-long writer-in-residency with the Seattle Arts Commission, Kerry created “The Floating Poetry Gallery”, one of the first efforts nationwide to bring poetry into public places. Artists created works based on juried poetry integrated into the art. The results rotated through Seattle public buildings. Kerry’s poems and essays have appeared in Harpur Palate, Prism Review, Whole Terrain, and other literary journals. She won the Prism Review Poetry prize and was a finalist for the Milton Kessler Memorial Poetry Prize (Harpur Palate), the New Letters’, and the Third Coast poetry prize.  She lives in Lyle, Washington.