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A poet aims to help others pen their own tales

Michael Czarnecki, a poet who lives in a rural community in central New York, will visit Vashon and present a workshop and poetry reading on Saturday.  - Courtesy Photo
Michael Czarnecki, a poet who lives in a rural community in central New York, will visit Vashon and present a workshop and poetry reading on Saturday.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

On Saturday, island writers can indulge in two free events led by East Coast poet Michael Czarnecki — a memoir writing workshop at noon and a poetry reading at 7 p.m.

Both events will take place at the Land Trust Building.

Czarnecki’s stop on Vashon — part of his current 48-state poetry tour, across the country via U.S. Route 20 — was the brainchild of Vashon’s first poet laureate, Ann Spiers, who served in the role from 2011 to 2013.

Spiers, who has published many volumes of poetry and leads workshops in writing poems and creating poetry chapbooks, said she is excited to welcome Czarnecki to Vashon.

According to Spiers, Czarnecki’s work and sensibilities about life are very much in tune with those of islanders.

“His look on life, his feeling toward community and the natural world is very similar to ours,” Spiers said. “His details are different from ours — he writes about hills, not mountains, and woods instead of forests, blue jays instead of stellar jays. But he has the same feeling about people and landscapes that people on Vashon have,” she said.

Czarnecki, who lives in a small community in the hills of central New York, defines his work as that of a “poet, publisher, oral memoirist and encourager.” He has written poetry for 45 years, and mentored countless writers through workshops and poet-in-the-school programs, as well as by founding his own small press, FootHills Publishing. Under Czarnecki’s imprimatur, Foothills has published more than 300 chapbooks of poetry since 1986. One of these was Spiers’ volume “Long Climb Into Grace,” a bestseller at the Vashon Bookshop.

Both prose and poetry writers are welcome to attend Czarnecki’s workshop on Saturday, where he will share a method he calls “palm of hand” memoir writing, after the “palm-of-the-hand” stories of Japanese writer Yasunari Kawabata.

Writers will be encouraged to use the method to focus their energies on completing short individual pieces about their life experiences.

The workshop, as well as his evening poetry reading, are sponsored by the Vashon Library and Vashon Island’s Poets Laureate. No registration is required for the workshop.

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