Poetry & Film

timber curtain

[These] poems call the gone world back into being … embracing our violent erasures until, black and blanked, the few surviving words take root, forming the seeds of a new life, the sound of a new music.

Charles D’Ambrosio, author of Loitering

Timber Curtain occupies a space between ramshackle and remodel. It starts with the demolition of a house–Richard Hugo House, the Seattle literary center where poet Frances McCue worked and lived. These cinematic poems, written alongside McCue’s documentary Where the House Was (2018), transform the windows of old houses and the patterns of new apartment buildings into a fantastical, interwoven vision of a changing city. The images spiral out to encompass icebergs, exorcisms, the refugee crisis, and the ethics of the myths-of-place we create for ourselves. The speaker is plainspoken, oracular, wry, indicting, and hopeful. Like the Seattle skyline, poems erase and recombine, censored but bleeding through into a landscape forever saturated with ghosts.

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Watch the trailer for Where the House Was HERE

Published by Chin Music Press

Frances McCue’s Timber Curtain is a captivating documentary lyric exploring the life of Richard Hugo House through looking for and at–the dead poet / the disruption / the city / this hill / this house’s corridors / a theater / that tub / a feathery hole / big voice / haunting / those sounds / sightlines / the apartment’s red door / the ghost girl / a borrow pit / a frontier / slippage / the way down place / the wind up / endings / the slope / the buoys / the broken things / the perimeter / where the house was
–this book is beautiful.

EMILY PETIT, Author of Goat in the Snow

Where the House Was (2018)

All memory resolves itself in gaze …

Richard Hugo, from Degrees of Grey in Philipsberg
Where the House Was is a film that follows the tear-down of a place for writers—Richard Hugo House.

It’s also a film about the erasure of Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood as we knew it. And about the erasure of cities all over the country, and the world. It’s about how we attach to places. And about sometimes we have to let those places go. The documentary weaves together stories of the building, the neighborhood, and the writers who passed through the literary organization with the personal experiences of one particular writer—Frances McCue, a co-founder of Richard Hugo House, long time producer of literary art, and one-time resident of 1634 11th Avenue.

The film witnesses the demolition of the building, but also grapples with the way time has shaped and reshaped the fate of the building over decades. The ultimate note is one of hope and appreciation. After all, where the old building once stood, a new one, built just for the writers, stands in its place.

Yes, things are changing, but no, not everything is doomed.

(Visit teamdemohugo.com to view the trailer and for more information.)

Hugo House Documentary honors Seattle’s historical literary space (link)

Frances McCue reflects on poetry, the Hugo House, and Seattle’s CHOP (video)