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Separate presentation to honor Black American poets during First Friday on July 8

The 15th season of the Milwaukie Poetry Series will conclude at 6 p.m. on July 13 with a tribute reading of poetry written by the late Ann Staley.Ann Staley

"She was scheduled to be our final reader on July 13, but she was having a battle with cancer and passed away on Feb. 25," said Tom Hogan, the series coordinator.

Staley was a longtime teacher who spent 20 years with the Northwest Writing Institute at Lewis & Clark College, he noted.

She was published as an essayist and a poet, and edited both poetry and fiction. Her first two books of poems, "Primary Sources" and "Instructions For The Wishing Light," were published by Booktrope Editions in Seattle, where she was also the poetry editor.

What Hogan likes best about Staley's poetry is her ability to "take you into your memory. We can all identify with the sense of awe and loss in our lives," he said.

Tribute readings

To honor her memory, four Oregon poets will read from Staley's work; included in this event are Paulann Petersen, Sulima Malzin, Gerri Otto and Linda Gelbrich.

Petersen served from 2010-14 as Oregon's sixth Poet Laureate, Hogan noted.

Malzin is a Portland poet who has led poetry services at West Hills Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and Otto and Gelbrich were Staley's colleagues in Corvallis.

Anyone who wants to read one of Staley's poems aloud at the event must register ahead of time to do that, Hogan noted, adding that a link on the poetry series website will allow potential readers to register.

The Ann Staley event will be live from the Willamette Falls Media Center and will be available on the Ledding Library YouTube Channel. Hogan said an invitation will be sent out to those on the poetry series mailing list, and others can go to the poetry series website at milwaukiepoetryseries.com to link to an invitation.

First Friday

Another live-stream event will take place from 6:30-8:30 p.m. during First Friday activities on July 8 when the Milwaukie Poetry Series celebrates Black American poets.

Emmett Wheatfall and Walidah Imarisha will read their poetry live on Zoom, Hogan said.

Wheatfall lives in Portland, where he writes, records, publishes and performs poetry. He was a featured poet at Portland's 50th Anniversary Celebration of the March on Washington, where he delivered his original poem written for the occasion, "Miles to Go Before We Sleep."

Imarisha is an educator, writer, public scholar and spoken-word artist. She is the author of the poetry collection "Scars/Stars," and in 2015, she received a Tiptree Fellowship for her science fiction writing.

Imarisha is currently an assistant professor in the Black Studies Department and director of the Center for Black Studies at Portland State University.

Hogan noted that those interested in watching the event should go to the poetry series website and click on the link to the event. The recording of that event will be on the Ledding Library YouTube channel.

Live events

Hogan noted that he is hoping to return to having in-person events in the fall; if all goes well, the series will kick off on the second Wednesday of the month at the Ledding Library, starting in September.

He is also hoping to bring back live open-mic events.

"We have partnered with St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church in Milwaukie for open mic since 2010," Hogan noted.

He has been with the with the Milwaukie Poetry Series since it began in 2007, with the mission to make poetry more accessible to all members of the community.

"It is significant that the series has lasted this long; it shows that poetry is important," Hogan said.

He added, "Our goal is to bring local poets to the community and our open mic-events give anyone a chance to participate."

Poetry for all!

To watch the Milwaukie Poetry Series tribute to Ann Staley live streaming from Willamette Falls Media at 6 p.m. on July 13, visit the Ledding Library YouTube channel at youtube.com/playlist?list=PLeUH65P4wGlBtMYNNHYhdHsBia0AAevbs.

You can access all past poetry series readings from season 15 from the same link.

To learn more about Ann Staley, visit milwaukieoregon.gov/library/ann-staley-poetry-reading-tribute.

To watch the First Friday presentation, find more information about the Milwaukie Poetry Series or to apply to be a reader for an upcoming season, visit milwaukieoregon.gov/library/milwaukie-poetry-series or milwaukiepoetryseries.com.

Contact Tom Hogan, series coordinator, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

"You Will Not Die An Unlived Life"

by Ann Staley

You did not live your like in fear of failing,

or of being judged or shunned.

You chose to inhabit your days,

to allow experiences to open you,

making you even more likable.,

more accessible,

to open your heart,

so, it became a promise.

You chose to make your like significant,

so whatever came to you as unknowable,

you pursued its essence,

and what came to you as undefinable,

you pursued its truth.

From "Fire in the Desert," 8th Street Press, Corvallis, Oregon (2020)


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