Luther Allen and Judy Kleinberg, who have organized numerous poetry events in Whatcom County for years, mainly through a series they call SpeakEasy, are pretty excited.
The reason: “Noisy Water,” their anthology of 101 Whatcom County poets, has just been published, and there will be a series of readings by poets who are in the anthology at Whatcom County Library System branches this winter and next spring.
The first reading will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 1, at Mount Baker Theatre’s Encore Room, followed by a reading at 7 p.m. Dec. 10 at Village Books.
Our vision was to create a collection of work by most of the recognized local poets.
Luther Allen, poet and editor
There will be around 25 poets at each event, each reading their anthology poem plus one more, Allen says.
The anthology will be on sale for $18, tax included, at the readings and at Village Books.
“We invited writers to submit poems based on their publication record and involvement in the local poetry community,” Allen says. “Our vision was to create a collection of work by most of the recognized local poets — a fairly comprehensive documentation of the state of poetry in Whatcom County.”
“Judy and I just sat down and started listing the poets we knew in the community,” he says. “Then we went back through SpeakEasy archives and the Boynton contest winners to look for additional candidates.”
Most of the poets have lived in Whatcom County for a significant period during the last three to five years.
“We asked a few people for recommendations. We sent out 104 invitations, I think, and wound up with 101 contributors,” Allen says. “There are a lot of accomplished poets in this community.”
They selected poets who have published a book or chapbook, have a solid publication record in literary journals, or have established themselves as important voices in the community. Most of the poets have lived in Whatcom County for significant periods during the last three to five years.
“From each poet’s submissions, Judy and I went through and chose the poem we liked the best,” Allen says.
Initially, they hoped to publish two or three poems from each poet, but the number of poets and growing number of pages limited them to one poem per writer.
Kleinberg thought of the book title “Noisy Water,” based on the native word “Whatcom.”
Kleinberg came up with the title “Noisy Water,” from the native word “Whatcom” is based on, Allen says.
Their goal, he says, is to cultivate and support community poetry.
“We would love to see more people writing, reading and listening to poetry,” Allen says. “And, I have to say, since we began the SpeakEasy reading series six or so years ago, the number of venues and publications seems to have increased dramatically.”