by Jasmine M. Pulido
There’s the phrase, “Together we can move mountains.” But in Filipino/a/x culture we start even smaller. There is a word for the long-held custom in which a village comes together to literally carry on their backs the home of a neighbor, to move it from where it was to where it needs to be. When I told my Filipino father-in-law what I was looking for in Seattle over dinner one day, he responded, “Ah, yes. Bayanihan.”
Bayanihan. It’s when you inherently trust a village with your sense of belonging. Your home.
Continue reading Yours in Community: A Year of Writing for the Emerald
by Andrew Engelson
Responding to a strike and campaign by more than 200 writers of color and members of the community, the Seattle nonprofit writing center Hugo House announced on Friday that its Executive Director Tree Swenson is stepping down. The campaign began in July of 2020 in response to what the Writers of Color Alliance (WOCA) says is a long term, persistent pattern of structural and systemic racism, tokenism, performative statements, lack of equity in pay, and a failure to provide a welcoming space to all races. Leaders of the strike by more than 180 writing teachers at Hugo House welcomed the departure of Swenson and the announcement that the organization’s development director position would be reopened to a competitive hiring process.
Continue reading Hugo House Director Departs, but Writers of Color Alliance Says Demands Unmet
by Luna Reyna, contributing columnist
In June 2020, Hugo House, a Seattle nonprofit writing center, posted a brief message via email and on their website in an attempt to condemn racism and show solidarity and support for the Black Lives Matter movement. Below the statement, Hugo House promoted a short list of poems and essays by Black writers. But by July, over 200 writers of Color and allies had signed an open letter addressing the performative nature of the statement and the organization’s lack of real investment, advocacy, and endorsement of local Black writers and communities.
“Hugo House’s recent email professing solidarity with the Black community rings hollow,” the letter reads. “The new civil rights movement makes clear that breaking down systemic and structural racism is all of our work, and we demand that Hugo House move concretely and transparently to invest its resources and make that change happen.”
Continue reading OPINION: Hugo House’s Passive Response to Racism Prompts Writers to Address the Violence of the Past
by Mark Van Streefkerk
“You see that I am always getting in trouble
Trouble follows me
like a shadow right behind me, always
You see that I am always in fights
Always rebel fights, arguments
But you don’t know me. I’m not that type of person
I’m really caring, giving
Always trying to help people”
Those are the opening lines to “Josiah,” a poem by 16-year-old Damian, a youth incarcerated at Seattle’s Children and Family Justice Center (CFJC), formerly King County Juvenile Detention. “Josiah” appears in The Shadow Beside Me, a new anthology of poems from youth at CFJC, published by the Pongo Poetry Project. In the poem, Damian writes about how life changed when his friend Josiah was shot and killed. “Josiah was the only person we knew who had graduated / had a job, and had something going for him / When he left, it broke me.”
Continue reading ‘The Shadow Beside Me’: Seattle Nonprofit Debuts Poetry From King County Juvenile Detention
by Glenn Nelson
The whole thing just kind of snowballed on Ron Chew — the book writing and the running. One day revealed to him a rapturous synergy. He realized that the running — the moving — jarred things in his brain: memories, organization, solutions.
Down the home stretch of completing his book, Chew vowed to run 10 miles. Every morning. Every day, until his book was finished. One day he surmised that 10 miles was so close to a half marathon, he increased his mileage. And then he determined he should do them at a swifter pace.
Continue reading Unforgotten Seattle: Journalist, Museum Exec, and Runner Ron Chew Finds Heroes of Seattle’s Unforgettable History Amidst Everyday People of Color
by Beverly Aarons
Does this poem bring you joy? Does it move through and speak to your body? Does it make you think and feel something deeply? Arianne True, a Choctaw and Chickasaw Nations poet and experiential educator, has important questions for all poets, both young and old, but especially for the middle-school students at Hugo House’s Scribes summer writing camp. How can the experience of poetry shape how you see yourself and history?
Continue reading Does This Poem Bring You Joy? A Conversation With Arianne True
by Kayla Blau
There is nothing powerful about trespassing for 400-odd years
But here we are,
Writing words on mistreated trees and calling them true
Tagging broad stripes and bright stars on purloined fabric
Directing lives, fancying ourselves unsung heroes,
Bruised egos and bellies full of shame.
There is nothing brave here.
Include in us our pasts –
Which of course, include your pasts too,
All of them lined up like precarious dominoes
Leading you right here,
Leading me right here,
Leading us to believe whatever truths we can stomach
To absolve ourselves of the truest truth –
“Es completamente injusto,”
The mother told me.
Continue reading POETRY: Power
by Georgia S. McDade
Brown Girls Write (BGW) founder Christy Abram has a mammoth task: helping women of color heal through self-expression.
Abram places great emphasis on self-care and safety. Because the women with whom she works women have often been ignored by mainstream health professionals or do not have access to healthcare, Abram encourages and teaches them to take care of themselves. Though many of their problems began in childhood — abandonment, homelessness, illness, incarceration, and abuse — some of these women continue to suffer as adults because of the ongoing impact of the past and their present circumstances. Abram is convinced writing is a cure or, at least, a beginning to becoming well.
Continue reading Brown Girls Write Prioritizes Self-Care and Safety