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WWU’s Nancy Pagh shares new poems Feb. 20 at Village Books

Nancy Pagh shares her new collection of poetry, “Once Removed” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at Village Books.
Nancy Pagh shares her new collection of poetry, “Once Removed” at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at Village Books. Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Anacortes native Nancy Pagh, who teaches in Western Washington University’s English department, says that during the academic year, her creativity gets channeled into teaching and student work. But she set aside time to create most of the work in her latest collection of poetry, “Once Removed.”

She’ll share poems from that book — and perhaps others — at 7 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 20, at Village Books.

The collection is in three sections: “After,” “Fraudulent Creatures: A Taxidermy Gallery” and “Once Removed.” Pagh says at Saturday’s event, she plans to talk about the strategies she used to write the sections of the book.

“What they have in common,” she says, “is that they are all different ways to riff on, honor, and speak with writers who have influenced me.”

Her poems in “After” are quirky and insightful follow-ups on works by established poets — Emily Dickinson, Pablo Neruda, T.S. Eliot and Sharon Olds, for example.

“Fraudulent Creatures,” which Pagh says is a taxidermy term for imaginary animals created by combining the parts of two or more real animals, are literary mash-ups that combine two source poems. These poems are “grafted’’ — “interwoven to create a new poem that has a different meaning from the two original sources, and explores the notion of inheritance and influence,” she says.

“It sounds very complicated,” Pagh says. “But it felt very natural and intuitive to write them.”

The poems in the “Once Removed” series were created using a modification of a technique called “exquisite corpse,” she says; a strategy developed by French surrealists that involves a group of writers passing drafts around, adding to them without seeing what the other writers have written.

Pagh says that writing with a sense of risk, danger, being fierce on the page, creates a sense of intimacy.

“I also believe that these poems are about states of mind, or ways of thinking and feeling; sharing a way of feeling is, for me, more intimate than disclosing facts or information about a life, which is why I am not shy about using or sharing them.”

Pagh hopes the collection will remind some readers of favorite poems we share in common, and send others to search her source poems, which are listed at the back of “Once Removed.”

Human Rights Film Fest kicks off Feb. 19

The 16th annual Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival begins Friday, Feb. 19, and continues through Feb. 27, with dozens of films showing at libraries, colleges, public schools and other locations throughout Whatcom County — all for free.

Shirley Osterhaus has been involved with the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival for the past 16 years, having a long-standing commitment to human rights and social/environmental justice.

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“True Cost” is among the films to be shown at the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival, which runs Feb. 19-27 around Whatcom County. ROSS MARQUARDT Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

“The film festival offers our community the opportunity to become more aware of critical human rights issues and to become involved locally,” she says.

“We all know that there are many disturbing issues in the world. But we believe that bringing people together in community, to view the films with a follow-up discussion, can inspire us and strengthen us in our determination to make a better world for all.”

Most of the films show people taking action to overcome injustices, thus inspiring us all to unite to confront intolerable situations.

Ross Marquardt, who helped select festival films

James Loucky, who facilitated discussion of a film about children who work and children of war in the festival’s first year, says the festival has deepened his understanding of how intertwined are justice, well-being and a healthy Earth.

Gloria Lebowitz is in her second year of volunteering for the festival, and says that she learned about issues that she hadn't previously known or thought about and learned more about the problems faced by people in less fortunate parts of the world.

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“True Cost” is among the films to be shown at the Bellingham Human Rights Film Festival, which runs Feb. 19-27 around Whatcom County. ROSS MARQUARDT Courtesy to The Bellingham Herald

Ross Marquardt has been involved in public screenings of social justice films in Wisconsin and Oregon, and for this festival, he is most active in selecting films to be shown.

“The human rights issues shown in some of the films are issues that exist in Whatcom County. Others illustrate complex connections of us to other parts of the world. Most of the films show people taking action to overcome injustices, thus inspiring us all to unite to confront intolerable situations.”

Details: http://calendar.bellinghamherald.com (search Human Rights Film Festival).

Tidbits

Whatcom Community College’s international programs is sponsoring a series of talks, films and special events Tuesday, Feb. 23, through Feb. 25, all free and open to the public. Topics include debunking stereotypes, the immigration crisis and border issues. Details: http://www.whatcom.ctc.edu/campus-life/campus-events. ... Western Washington University’s Battle of the Bands, now in its second year, is now open to any band or artist, not just Western students. The event is co-sponsored by WWU's Associated Students and Make.Shift Art Space. Nine finalists will be selected to compete during April and May. Four finalists will then perform on May 27 in the VU MPR at the WWU campus. The winner will receive performance slots at two events, recording time and “some glorious gear,” according to AS productions marketing coordinator Aarin Wright. Details: www.battleofbands16.wix.com/enter.

Margaret Bikman: 360-715-2273, @bhamentertainme

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