Poetry In Motion: South Seattle Poems Travel by Metro

by Marcus Harrison Green

poetry on busNo less than Plato – begetter of Western Civilization that he is – intoned that “Poetry is nearer to vital truth than history,” if so, a cortege of verisimilitude fastened to Seattle’s southern parcel will soon be trekking through King County proper. However, its vehicle of choice should drop the jaws to pavement of any who find the medium analogous to high brow, elite or esoteric, for it has gleefully forsaken any extravagant conveyance to venture with the layperson by bus!

Beginning Monday, King County Metro buses will prominently display the lyrical prose of local poets just above the heads of Metro riders in placards that are usually reserved for advertisements and public service announcements as part of Poetry on Buses.

A product of 4Culture – King County’s Public Development Authority that essentially functions as its arts curator – Poetry on Buses’ intent is to bring  broader exposure to the work of King County poets – whether master or novice – to a captive audience of bus riders throughout the county.

With 4Culture sending out a call for poems last spring (using libraries, schools, community centers and of course buses as channels to generate awareness of the project), over 620 people from around the county sent in submissions hoping to have their words graced by the eyeballs of metro commuters during the intervening time between allowing Joe Metro to shuffle them to and from work.

The only criteria poets were required to adhere to outside of length considerations – buses are only so large after all as anyone who has taken Metro route 7 can attest – was that their poems had to somehow touch on the theme of “Writing Home.”

Of the 365 poets whose work was chosen to be showcased, only 125 will actually have their melodic verse featured on buses while the rest will have their poetry featured on the project’s website. Thirty-eight of them reside in South Seattle, hailing from the neighborhoods of Skyway, Rainier Beach, Hillman City, Beacon Hill, Mount Baker, Georgetown and Columbia City.

It’s believed to have one of, if not the highest, representation of any area in Washington’s most populous county. Another voucher to aid in the area earning its moniker of the “New Harlem.”

“4Culture has been working hard to expand our reach in South King County,” says Jim Kelly, Executive Director of 4Culture, “and we’re very excited there are so many strong poetic voices from this community that have found an opportunity to express themselves through Poetry on Buses.”

Though it might be easy for many south end natives to blithely dismiss the announcement as simple literary window dressing – and if they had their druthers they would much prefer buses that actually ran on time coupled with plenty of seating naked of any decor whatsoever – there is no small shortage of people who see it as a desperately sought for opportunity to trumpet narratives of the south end that are rarely heard by anyone outside of the immediate area.

“Poetry on Buses means a lot to me as I have been living a life of homelessness until recently,” said Gabriella Duncan who lives in the Skyway area.

“I am now temporarily housed at the Seattle Catholic Worker. Before that I rode buses with my friends outside to understand the critical value of having bus tickets especially in the winter. I myself have a terrible fear of buses! One of my posts on Facebook included a picture I took of myself because my car broke down and I had to ride the bus! I was out of mind with fear!”

Duncan adds that her time without either housing or transportation to call her own gave her a newfound appreciation for taking the bus – especially one that may act as a mobile exhibition of her poetry. “I learned a hard lesson about survival of our (homeless) friends and the survival of our transit system here in my new home (of Skyway). It’s a wonderful thing to be able to share that.”

Poetry on Buses will officially kick off tomorrow with a launch party held at the Moore Theatre in downtown Seattle, and will include live poetry readings, music and cocktails. Those who exclusively commute via either car, bike or Nike will not be left out from savoring the melodic verse of south end poets, as they can venture digitally to Poetry on Buses’ website and be treated to a new poem every day until November 9th.

That being said, there may be no substitute for actually experiencing the words of the “Bards of South Seattle ” on the big yellow and green taxis of King County Metro as one local poet whose work was not selected quipped, “Now that is what I call poetry in motion!”

Vigil For 7 Year-Old Hit and Run Victim Sparks Debate Over Pedestrian Safety

by Marcus Harrison Green

City of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Director Scott Kubly meet with Community Member during the November 1st Vigil. Photo: Jawara O'Connor
City of Seattle Mayor Ed Murray and SDOT Director Scott Kubly meet with Community Member during the November 1st Vigil. Photo: Jawara O’Connor

Some expressed outrage at the city for what they view as gross negligence.  Some reserved their indignation for the craven perpetuator of a deplorable crime. And still others probed for concrete solutions to a problem that continues to plague the southend of Seattle with abnormal frequency- yet all gathered together last Saturday at 2:00 pm at the Columbia City Light Rail Station to participate in a “walking vigil” for  the 7 year old victim of a hit and run car collision.

One month prior, Zeytuna Edo- walking a short distance from her home to a tutoring class- was crossing the street along Genesee and Martin Luther King Jr Way S  with her family, when an unidentified car, struck her,  leaving her unconscious, bleeding body in the middle of a busy intersection, furiously speeding away before any witnesses could identify the driver behind the wheel of the vehicle.

Edo-who  is currently hospitalized and only recently emerged from critical condition- sustained multiple injuries, most significantly to her head. The rapid response of paramedics to the scene is credited with saving her life.

The Seattle Police Department continues to search for the person who hit her, and is asking anyone who may have any information on the event to come forward.

“I think it is completely wrong that a kid can get hit in the street and a person can drive off and not care,” said Adam Dodge, a local Columbia City resident who came to the vigil to lend his support to Zeytuna’s family.

While nearly everyone in the crowd of more than 100 people who attended the vigil walk- which commenced at MLK Jr Way S and Alaska ended several yards north on MLK Way and Genessee- shared in Dodge’s disgust at the tragedy, many in attendance saw it as symptomatic of a much broader issues-what they feel is the city’s indifference at calming traffic along busy southend arterials- most notably Martin Luther King Jr Way S and Rainier Avenue South.

With the area experiencing a series of car accidents- most recently a massive wreck involving 15 cars and injuring 10 people that transpired on Rainier Avenue South just a day before the vigil- most southend natives have been left scratching their heads in attempts at pinpointing the root cause of all the vehicular calamity the area has suffered through in recent months.

“I think the issue is road design, traffic planning and education,” said  Barb Norman, a local who had for some time been concerned about the speeds cars were permitted to go as they entered into the densely populated neighborhoods.

“We have a similar issue in the north end. We have very busy streets like MLK Way,” said Selena Carsiotis- who is a safe streets activist and ventured from her Crown Hill neighborhood to be part of the vigil as  well as  to take part in a dialogue centering around what can be done to make all Seattle streets safer for pedestrians and bicyclists.

“I was looking at the wreck that happened on Rainier Avenue South where  10 people were injured. I think its speed and freight that is the main thing causing these accidents. Also, this area is a state freight corridor and I think that might be one of the challenges to the city’s ability to slow speeds. So we might need some collaboration with other jurisdictions to make that happen, but it can happen.”

Both Seattle City Mayor Ed Murray and Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) Director Scott Kubly attended the vigil and reiterated their committed to calming traffic in the area. SDOT had previously scheduled two Rainier Avenue Road Safety Meetings- taking  place November 12th and 18th with the intention of relaying the city’s plans for taming traffic along South Seattle arterials to the community and seeking their feedback.

Earlier this week, November 6, SDOT hosted a public meeting at the Hillman City Collaboratory to start a discussion on improving safety, keeping speed low, and helping people cross busy streets, part of SDOT’s effort of implementing a North- South Spine greenway in 2015- north south neighborhood greenway connecting Rainier Beach with Mt. Baker. The gathering had about 45 in attendance, including residents, business owners, community leaders and Rainier Valley Greenways organizers.

Residents hope that the meetings will provide more action than talk, as several have grown exhausted dealing with an issue they feel the city should have addressed long ago. This was on full display at a “Solutions Meeting,” hosted by Rainier Valley Greenways- the main proponents of
city prioritization of safe southend streets for walkers and bicycle riders – that was held directly after the vigil at the Rainier Vista Boys & Girls Club.

Interactions between the mayor-who spoke at the Boys & Girls Club- and community members often grew testy as many remained unsatisfied with the city’s response to the ongoing rash of accidents.

“I really hope that something actually comes out of these (upcoming) meetings and that  SDOT can put some immediate measures in to slow the traffic. That would improve what’s been happening in the area immediately,” iterated Norman.

With the cacophony of opinion surrounding what, if anything, the city can  actually do to ensure safe, walkable southend streets, it seemed almost inevitable that the original impetus of the vigil would be drowned out, however, the thought of the 7 year old girl who was transferred to Children’s Hospital early last week after being at Harborview Medical Center since the incident, was never far from anyone’s mind.

“Our first goal today is to make sure that Zeytuna- her family, her friends, her relatives- know that we are here to support her as a community,” shared Phyllis Porter, who assisted Edo’s family in organizing the vigil.

“Zeytuna and her family is in our hearts. We will hold the idea that our community can be a safe  and healthy place for everyone and the streets we walk on  can be a good place for us to live”, continued Porter.


If you’d like to help:

  1. Please
    come forward if you are the driver of the hit and run collision or know
    the person who did this horrific act. Please call the Traffic Collision
    Investigators with any information at (206) 684-8923.
  2. Family of Zeytuna is asking for assistance with bus tickets-this will assist her family on their daily travel to Children Hospital to visit Zeytuna on the north side of town.
  3. Donations to Zeytuna’s family for medical expenses can be made at YouCaring.com: http://bit.ly/1wBXAYV


Schedule of meetings:

Wednesday, NOVEMBER 12

6 PM to 8 PM, The Columbia School – Cafeteria/Commons,

3528 S. Ferdinand St (use the Edmunds St entrance)

Tuesday , NOVEMBER 18

4:30 PM to 6:30 PM, The Ethiopian Community Center,

8323 Rainier Ave S

For more information, please visit: www.seattle.gov/transportation/rainieraves.htm or contact Jim Curtin at jim.curtin@seattle.gov

Seahawks’ Game Day Prediction

by Dave Morris

Courtesy Seahawks.com
Courtesy Seahawks.com

So let’s face it, though the Seahawks have been winning as of late they have been doing it in less than impressive fashion.  Thankfully for the 12th man that all changes today as the lowly New York Giants visit Century Link Field later this afternoon.

The Giants- coming off of three games were they were barely even competitive, losing by an average margin of nearly 18 points- should provide easy pickings for the Seahawks.

Prediction: Seahawks 35 Giants 21

Review: Dear White People

by Lola E Peters

Photo Courtesy of Homegrown Pictures

I had to see this film twice. The first time I was set off balance by its challenge to my expectations. The trailers for this film are misleading. The ads indicate that it is about what’s wrong with white people. It isn’t about that. So, what is it about?

Set in a majority-white, Ivy League college in the Midwest, the story tracks the 21st Century tensions among and between black and white students.


Primary characters include:

  •         Troy: the black son of the college’s Dean of Students;
  •         Sam: a black, female film student from a trans-racial family;
  •         Coco: a black, female video-blogger from Chicago;
  •         Lionel: a black, gay, journalism student;
  •         Kurt: the white son of the college’s President;

The film’s title comes from the campus radio call-in program hosted by Sam. She uses that platform to address racial micro-aggressions observed on campus. She has also written a survival guide for black students that is referenced throughout the film.

Tension erupts when members of the Black Student Union engineer to elect Sam over Troy as Head of House for the formerly all-black student dormitory. This impacts Troy’s relationship with his father, and his girlfriend (who is the President’s daughter and Kurt’s sister). Lionel, not a resident of the dorm, agrees to write a story for the campus’ primary newspaper about the tension between Sam and Troy. Kurt is Head of House of the elite campus dormitory, where Coco and Lionel live. He is also editor of the school’s satire magazine. Coco wants to be a star and is frustrated when she auditions for a reality-TV show and is told there isn’t enough tension in her life to make it interesting.

The film uses these characters to amplify college students’ universal search for identity and place while exploring the dynamics of power and race through filters of class, gender, and sexual orientation.

What happens when a legacy of power is challenged or taken away? What is the intergenerational impact, cost or benefit, of racially bestowed power? How do stereotypes set up unnecessary barriers to authentic relationship? What role does media play in perpetuating stereotypes and in facilitating liberation? How do the politics of race impact romance? How do the combined politics of race and class impact romance? What tactics are most effective in creating social change? How does racism manifest in the 21st Century? These are among the questions the film tackles. The filmmaker balances the seriousness of these topics with a comic lightness in the dialogue.

None of the characters plays true to type. Instead, they very subtly subvert their type by responding in unexpected ways to their circumstances. My friends who have seen the film compare it to Spike Lee’s 1988 classic School Daze, which was set in a historically black college. While there are certainly similarities in the archetypes used, the majority white setting of Dear White People shifts each character’s response to the underlying dynamics. There are neither pure heroes nor villains, only flawed humans learning how to live.

Technically, the film is beautiful. The colors are warm and inviting, even in the most emotionally charged moments. Borrowing from documentaries, the film uses chapter headings. Unlike documentaries, the background for each heading is in a tropical color: mango, papaya, banana, avocado. The filmmaker also uses framed stills at the start of the film to clearly identify the student hierarchy. Frames formalize scenes throughout; sometimes obviously, other times in the background.

I recommend this film, but do see it more than once. I’m looking forward to it coming out on DVD or Netflix so that I can watch it back-to-back with School Daze and perhaps study the changes in generational perspective, filmmaking style, and point of view.

Dear White People is currently playing at South Seattle’s Ark Lodge Cinemas

This Weekend In South Seattle: Take a Trip to the Caribbean, Find The Beef In West Hill, Go Green In Rainier Beach, and Party Like It’s 1964

Events this weekend in the South Seattle area

Friday, November 7th

Movies: Opening of Interstellar starring Matthew McConaugheyDetails: With our time on Earth coming to an end, a team of explorers undertakes the most important mission in human history; traveling beyond this galaxy to discover whether mankind has a future among the stars. Showtimes: 12:30pm, 2:45pm, 7:15pm, 9:30pm –Where: Ark Lodge Cinemas (4816 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Infohttp://www.arklodgecinemas.com

Community: VFW Meat Raffle Details:The Skyway/Westhill VFW will be hosting their weekly meat raffle. Come for the beef and stay for the company. You may just score some savory cuts of prime dead cow. – Time: 4:00pm-7:00pm –Where: 7421 S 126th Street, Seattle, WA – More Info: persimmon1859@gmail.com

Music:  Club Shostakovich Special 50th Anniversary Edition (Party like it’s 1964)Details: Club Shostakovich celebrates the 50th anniversary of Dmitri Shostakovich’s 9th and 10th String Quartet premiere which took place at the Moscow Conservatory in November of 1964. Performers are Trio Pardalote (Victoria Parker, violin, Heather Bentley, viola and Rowena Hammill, cello) with favorite guests from the ongoing series, violinists Blayne Barnes, Natasha Bazhanov, Artur Girsky and Mikhail Shmidt. We’ll throw in the beloved 8th String Quartet for good measure and play three in a row: 8th Quartet at 8 pm, 9th Quartet at 9 pm and 10th Quartet just after 10 pm with time for drinks in between. As it will also be Heather’s 50th birthday starting at midnight, the specially formed Quartet Royale, featuring Wayne Horvitz, piano and Jimmie Herrod, vocals will play the late set into the night.- Time: 8:00pm-Whenever-Where: The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Infohttp://www.theroyalroomseattle.com


Saturday, November 8th

Community: Free Community Veterans Resource Fair Details:Come get the latest information on Veterans benefits, Healthcare services, Jobs, Training services, and many more Service Providers. These Veteran Affairs professionals will be available on site to serve our Veteran men and women of all ages, Widows of Veterans, and their families-Time: 10:00am-2:00pm-Where: Mount Zion Baptist Church 1634 19th Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122 – More Info: titoveteransadvocate@gmail.com

Gardening: Lip Smacking Good Jerusalem Artichoke Harvest & Art HangingDetails: Share information including recipes, cultivation, nutritional info with tasting opportunities. Meet the artist and view installation of art on the fence next to the sunchoke bed. Time: 11:00am-12:30pm-Where: Brander Gardens Park (1730 Bradner Place South Seattle, WA 98144) More Info: isodav@clearwire.net

Community: Green Seattle Day- Rainier Beach Details: Join Green Seattle at the Rainier Beach Community Center at 9am to get signed in, grab coffee, and welcome the day with our Green Seattle Day speaker, Jourdan Keith. Jourdan is Seattle’s Poet Populist (Emeritus), the founder/director of the Urban Wilderness Project, and a pretty awesome person, so we’re very excited that she will be starting us off. After a very brief address, buses will take volunteers the short ride to one of four local parks to plant native trees and shrubs, and then back to the community center when it’s done. Lunch is provided for all volunteers at 12:30 and will be a big Ethiopian buffet feast. Volunteers from all sites are welcome to join us-Time: 9:00am-12:30pm-Where: Rainier Beach Community Center – More Info: http://www.greenseattle.org

Culture: Night of Creative VisionDetails: A Night of Creative Vision will center youth-of-color’s artistic activism and their creative expression for creating a world without prisons that cage our youth.  This event is part of EPIC/YUIR’s No New Youth Jail Campaign and is open to all ages. Time: 6:00pm-10:00pm-Where: Monica’s Village Place (140 23rd Avenue S, Seattle, WA 98144) More Infohttps://www.facebook.com/events/804553129586164/


Culture: Arts Gumbo: Grupo Utopia: Caribbean and Garifuna MusicDetails:The final Arts Gumbo event of the 2014 Series will feature the Caribbean with a performance by Grupo Utopia, a dinner and dance workshop. Featuring some of the best Caribbean musicians in Seattle, Grupo Utopia delivers a panoramic soundscape of Latin Music, blending Miguel A Munoz’s dynamic voice and piano, with an expressive percussion section run by Ricardo Guity and Jeff Busch, seasoned with the rhythmic cadence of Jeff Norwood on bass, all this balanced by the melodious direction of Patty Carrion on keyboards. A Caribbean dinner will follow the performance. Following dinner, audiences can learn Caribbean dancing with Aguacero: Contemporary Ritual Drum and Dance. Founded in 2013, Aguacero plays contemporary and ancient drum and dance rhythms to honor the environment, the community, and the powerful forces of nature that surround everyone. This will be an informal, fun dance workshop for all ages and all levels. Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm-Where: Rainier Valley Cultural Center (3515 South Alaska Street, Seattle, WA 98118) More Info: http://www.rainiervalleyculturalcenter.org/events/grupo-utopia/

Community: Southeast Seattle Senior Center’s 3rd Annual Dinner and Auction FundrasierDetails: SESSC would love to have you join them for this annual celebration.Donations and Sponsorship opportunities are still available-Time: 6:00pm-9:00pm-Where: 4655 South Holly Street, Seattle, WA 98118 – More Infohttp://www.sessc.org

Music: En CantoDetails: En Canto brings you music as rich and varied as the people and places of Brazil: forró and baião from the northeast, bossa nova and choro from Rio, and sambas from every city and town. These lively, danceable rhythms get everyone onto the dance floor, while the occasional slower tunes (such as Tom Jobim’s “Falando do Amor”) evoke the romantic Brazilian mood of saudade (longing). Led by Brazilian-born vocalist Adriana Giordano, this septet combines consummate musicianship with an infectious sense of fun, delighting everyone from the discriminating music aficionado to anyone who just wants to groove. – Time: 9:00pm-11:00pm-Where: The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Infohttp://www.theroyalroomseattle.com

Community: Detective Cookie’s Urban Chess Club with Pro Chess Instructor H.R.Pitre. Details: Learn to play chess from one of the best instructors in South Seattle Time: From 12:00pm – 2:00pm Where: Rainier Beach Community Center: 8825 Rainier Ave South Seattle.  More Info: 206-650-3621 (Detective Cookie)

Sunday, November 9th

Music:  North Corner Chamber OrchestraDetails: North Corner Chamber Orchestra was founded in 2014 by Blayne Barnes, Heather Bentley, Matthew McGrath, Victoria Parker, and Eli Weinberger. A musician-led, conductor-less ensemble, NOCCO thrives on performing dynamic, exquisite music. They are in residence at the Royal Room in Columbia City.- Time: 7:30pm-9:30pm-Where: The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Infohttp://www.theroyalroomseattle.com


If you have an event to post please email events@southseattleemerald.com



Jayapal Take 37th District Senate Seat, Initiative 594 Passes Overwhelmingly

by Staff Writer

Pramila Jayapal greets supporters at The Royal Room in Columbia City.
Pramila Jayapal greets supporters at The Royal Room in Columbia City.

In an outcome that many anticipated from the moment she announced her intentions to run, 37th District voters crowned Pramila Jayapal their new State Senator Tuesday night.

Jayapal, primarily known for her activism on immigration and police accountability issues, took nearly 67% of the vote to business professor and entrepreneur Louis Watanabe’s 33%.

“I’m proud to represent the most racially and economically diverse district in Washington State,” Jayapal told a packed room of supporters at her campaign party at the Royal Room in the Columbia City neighborhood of Seattle. “Our district represents the future of this state and country. As I’ve said all along, this campaign isn’t about electing me, it’s about electing us. Given the scale of the change we seek we have to prepare ourselves to what amounts to a permanent campaign. And this is just the beginning.”

The 37th District’s two other races played out predictably as both incumbents Sharon Tomiko Santos (State Representative Position 1) and Eric Pettigrew (State Representative Position 2)- who are both Democrats- overwhelmingly defeated their Republican challengers-  Daniel Bretzke and Tamra Smilanich respectively. Both victors received over 84% of casts votes.

In other election night developments Initiative 594- which would require background checks for firearm sales and purchases- was passed by over 60% of Washington State voters. The initiative was of particular concern to South Seattle residents as gun violence has increased steeply in the area within the last few months.

SDOT Inviting Community Input on How to Make Rainier Avenue Safer

Note: This is a Community Service Announcement

The Seattle Department of Transportation (SDOT) is inviting South Seattle residents to help improve safety along Rainier Avenue South. Responding to concerns raised by residents and local community councils, the SDOT is launching a collaborative process to review conditions along the roadway in November 2014.

You can join SDOT at two public meetings to review data and share your experiences on Rainier with their project team and help determine the future of the corridor.

Wednesday, NOVEMBER 12

6 PM to 8 PM, The Columbia School – Cafeteria/Commons,

3528 S. Ferdinand St (use the Edmunds St entrance)

Tuesday , NOVEMBER 18

4:30 PM to 6:30 PM, The Ethiopian Community Center,

8323 Rainier Ave S

For more information, please visit: www.seattle.gov/transportation/rainieraves.htm or contact Jim Curtin at jim.curtin@seattle.gov

Reportage, Culture & Commentary From The Most Eclectic Place on Earth