I was so thrilled, surprised, honored and flattered to see that my little gentrification story has been named a finalist for this year’s Washington State Book Award in Poetry.
But what amazing company it keeps. Take a look at these:
Thresholds by Glenna Cook, of Tacoma (MoonPath Press)
Killing Marias: A Poem for Multiple Voices by Claudia Castro Luna, of Seattle (Two Sylvias Press)
Mary’s Dust by Melinda Mueller, of Seattle (Entre Rios Books)
Trazas de mapa, trazas de sangre / Map Traces, Blood Traces by Eugenia Toledo, of Seattle; translated by Carolyne Wright, of Seattle (Mayapple Press)
Water & Salt by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, of Redmond (Red Hen Press)
While gentrification sucks away the heart of Seattle, new things are coming, “shinier than the last.” Glass domes downtown, Tupperware buildings on Capitol Hill, a chilling corridor of bland apartments down Dexter, the ever-roaming Connector buses– on and on. The Guardian’s recent article describes all this.
Timber Curtain, my new poetry book also follows the trend of old places disappearing. The book is in verse but reads like a novel, starting with the old Hugo House, a 1906 Victorian in the middle of Capitol Hill. It was torn down in 2016. But the story here isn’t all sad sack and wallowing. Sure, it’s about how I have nostalgia and attachment to the old place since I lived there with my family but the story also traces how fetishizing the lost is a dead end. Honestly, the Coastal Salish had everything taken away from them. That was the first big loss. Everything after that is just shoplifting.
People blame the changes on tech. They blame corporations who situate themselves here: Starbucks, Amazon, Boeing, Microsoft, etc. Pressure also arises from our rarified real estate squeezed onto an isthmus. Whatever the source, it’s capitalist success. And that, of course, is an insatiable splayer of waste.
In the case of Hugo House, two benevolent owners of the property developed it so that Hugo House could remain on the same patch of land. After turning down huge offers for the land, they financed the redevelopment of the property themselves. Then, they sold Hugo House the bottom floor of the new building. It’s a pretty impressive new place. On Sept 22, it will open.