BOOKS: Seattle poet pens a chronicle on Lewis and Clark

Seattle’s John Burgess shares “By Land,” a riff on the “Journals of Lewis & Clark” that follows where the author intersected with the trail in Montana, the Pacific Coast, and St. Louis, at 7 p.m. Saturday, June 6, at Village Books, 1200 11th St. He will accompany the reading with a slide show and some related threads from his first three books.

The book is a collage of sonnets, concrete poems, handwritten lists, a memoir in 10 fragments, and drawings (“graphic poems”) inspired by his personal westward journey, visits to historical sites and markers. He started in 1978, with the journals as a source of text and maps.

Burgess grew up in upstate New York, worked on a survey crew in Montana, taught English in Japan, and, since 1985, lived in Seattle, where he does communications for an insurance company.

He has been active in the Seattle poetry scene since 1997. He was a 2006 Jack Straw writer, co-founder of the Burning Word Festival, and was the 2008 Words’ Worth curator for the Seattle City Council. He has been a two-time candidate for Seattle Poet Populist, and edits the online lit journal Snow Monkey. He’s also a board member at the Richard Hugo House (Seattle’s creative writing center), and performs with the Band of Poets.

His other collections of poetry are “Punk Poems,” “A History of Guns in the Family,” and “Graffito,” all from Ravenna Press in Spokane. For more about Burgess, go to punkpoet.net.