Mid-Atlantic, poems of separation and the sea is a new collection by local poet, John James Reid.  He reads from this volume at Village Books, Saturday, Aug. 26 at 7 PM. I  shall be  honored to introduce John, a Clover contributor, at his reading.

John James Reid is an Irish poet, architect and mediator who lives in Bellingham. Mid-Atlantic, is his third book of poetry.  Previous books include After Six Weeks and The Goalkeeper, previously hosted by Village Books. Life’s personal journey continues to inspire his poetry, in the post-Heaney world, that he believes needs gently softened, revealed and articulated.

The poems in Mid-Atlantic speak to the soul. John’s writing is honest and compelling.  Carol Graham’s paintings perfectly compliment the poems in this existential compilation: How do we deal with separation? How did we get here? And where do we go from here — when the here is a place caught between continents on a sea with no land in sight.

Profits from Mid-Atlantic will go to the Dispute Resolution Center in Bellingham.

I asked John some questions via email and he kindly responded.

  1. What were the early influences on your writing and how do they manifest in your work? 

Learning English language and literature at school. The language of Shakespeare, the poetry of Wordsworth, Keats, the War Poets, the great WB Yeats, Joyce,… and on!

  1. How does writing change the writer?

You turn in on yourself. The opening of an awareness of language, the resonance and power of words, the simple pleasure of reading, the open invitation to be creative, it’s pulling power. Writing changes you in the quest for meaningful language to search out thoughts and feelings and dreams. You find more of yourself.

  1. What books have fortified you as a writer?

I bought The Collected Poems of WB Yeats from a restored famine poor house in County Donegal in NW Ireland in a sale for £1.99 almost 25 years ago. Best book I ever bought. Old and timeless.

I also began collecting the poetry books of Seamus Heaney from second book shops over time from The Death of a Naturalist to Aeneid, published after his death. Edward Hirsch’s The Poet’s Choice is a favourite too for its worldly perspective. I could go on but a deep love of Irish and English poetry books is evident! I am reading Jonny Cash’s Forever Words now.

  1. Why is the unconscious mind a writer’s best friend?

Because it germinates the idea and the words for writing. For me as an architect, it also generates a visual. For Mid-Atlantic, it came as the front cover image for the book and the metaphor of the sea. In my second book, The Goalkeeper the idea of my mother as a keeper watching her ten children in the wake of the Irish Troubles appeared from deep within. The unconscious brought these things to me. I am not sure I would have found   these ideas if I had gone looking for them. I allow that my e my next idea and my next thought germinates from the unconscious.  After Six Weeks traveled a different path. This volume of poetry was born from a hard grief and a love in deep loss—a healing journey.

  1. What are you working on now?

Nothing but I am thinking about an idea about spaces; maybe, because I am an architect. An idea about describing architectural spaces and other spaces. The spaces that touch us and make our   lives different. The empty spaces. The surprising space that can burst us alive. I leave it to the unconscious to crystallize it further. An idea came to me about two empty rocking chairs in a space for some reason. The different spaces we all move through, conscious and unconscious.

  1. What is next for you?

To read more and to wait.  I plan to read from the collected works of the Irish poet Paul Muldoon.  I want to read more of Whitman, was well. I like the idea of going to Litfuse, the poetry conference in Yakima, maybe. And maybe just learning more.

  1. Ireland?

A place I can never leave really. It is in my grain. It offers me his history, knowledge, culture, pain and perspective—certainly my foundation. The US America relationship is also special.

  1. You say that all profits from the Mid-Atlantic will go to the Dispute Resolution Center.  Your relationship to that?

The Dispute Resolution Center. It seemed relevant to donate all proceeds to the DRC as they deal with separation all the time—the theme of the book. I wanted to acknowledge the work of the Center as an invaluable community service and as a healer.

  1. What do you want the reader to know about you?

My love of poetry and something I have turned to for enjoyment and width and therapy. Born from my Irish childhood and my history. And for the wonderful places it will take me and the inner world it shows me—as well as well as an avenue to make new friends!


I have a list of things I want to say:

1.  You are the master of your imagination — the engineer whose job it is to develop a pathway from your experience to an audience.  In your own words.

2.  The Independent Writers’ Studio begins again June 22, that is Monday at 1 PM.  Get excited about your writing.  Wednesday’s group begins at 7 PM.  Hope to see you.

3.  Clover, A Literary Rag, vol. 9 will be out very soon.

4.  Join us at the Chuckanut Writers Conference  Clover, A Literary Rag will be at a foyer table.  Our magazine will be sold at Village Books at the conference site. This happens on June 26!

And  5th but really first I am so happy to be home after a fairy tale excursion in Stresa, Italy. My daughter married there last Saturday. Joy-filled with a Hemingway twist.

Jim Milstead at Village Books

poster for Jim image

What a privilege it is for me to invite you to Jim Milstead’s reading from Collage at Bellingham’s Village Books at 4 PM on Sunday, April 19! Born in 1927, Jim’s love affair with life began as a child roaming the Mohave Desert. His father encouraged him into the sciences, and Jim achieved his doctoral degree from UC Berkeley in Entomology. After retiring he moved to Bellingham, Washington where he engaged in poetry. (More like full immersion baptism.) These poems are fine wine finally uncorked. I am honored to be part of this project. I love this man—I love his work. Enjoy Collage!  Join Jim and his friends for an amazing afternoon next Sunday at 4 PM at Village Books.

From the back cover of Collage we read:

Every poem in Jim Milstead’s Collage invites us to marvel at his ingenuity, keen observations, humor, and “spattersweep of sunlight at the water’s edge.” Poem by poem, he navigates us through love, loneliness, and loss, from San Francisco earthquakes to Whatcom County cats (“Katz”) on the prowl. Expect to laugh out loud and nod at the truth of self-reflection. Open the book wide, and you’ll say “ahhhh.”

—Betty Scott,
Poet, essayist and editor

Jim Milstead is a poet with a deeply humane vision. As poet and witness, Milstead … can be playful, as in his poems “Expiration Date” and “Pearls.” Many of the poems collected in Collage are socially conscious. “Discard” and “Old Woman at a Mall” remind me of Michael Connelly’s character Harry Bosch declaring that “Everyone counts or no one counts.” A long-standing member of the Bellingham Peace Vigil, Jim Milstead  includes poems of outrage but never turns a “deaf ear to love.”
…Superb, Collage, Jim Milstead’s  new poetry collection, has been well worth the wait.

— Andrew Shattuck  McBride,
Editor, poet, and essayist

Denise duMaurier at Village Books

Sentinel duM poster_3 picIf you have heard Denise duMaurier read, you will be at Village Books for this rare opportunity to spend an hour with this world traveling poet/artist/actress.  Her third volume of poetry, SENTINEL, is available at Village Books! SENTINEL was published by the Independent Writers’ Studio and printed by Threshold Documents.

Submissions are open for Clover, A Literary Rag until
April 30, 2015

The best way to submit stories and poetry is through Submittable.com .  If you submit poetry or stories to clover@independentwritersstudio.com that works as well.

Our deadline is firm as is our resolve to produce the best volume EVER of Clover.  Volume 9 of the Rag comes out in June, so now is the time to get your words together and sent to us for consideration.


Clover, A Literary Rag, Vol. 8, Reading Date

Yesterday I listened to a leafless tree–a small crabapple or cherry tree, perhaps, but a singing tree.  I studied the empty limbs, and saw the fluff of a squirrel’s tail as it lay prone along a branch. Apparently the squirrel was curious, too.

My two little dogs and I stood stalk still, waiting.  Those were chickadee songs that tree was singing, and finally I saw one small bird where I knew a chorus played. I let it be.

A song tree on a January day.

Speaking of gatherings–Clover, A Literary Rag announces one!  Clover is back at Village Books March 15, Sunday, at 4 PM.  Mark your calendars.  We promise a full slate of highly visible writers in full early spring song.  More later.  Just promise to save the date, and shop at Village Books in Bellingham, Washington.

They support birds of all feathers.

PS  Looking for a writer’s group?  Try IWS. We meet weekly. Monday afternoons and Wednesday evening.


clover for poster 28

Thank-you Village Books and our receptive audience — Clover, A Literary Rag had a wonderful time celebrating  Volume 5, September 28th!

Elliott Bay Book Company now carries Clover, A Literary Rag — Seattle here we are!  We are excited to join the vibrant poetry scene in our neighbor city.  Support your local independent bookseller with a nod in Clover’s direction!  Thank-you.

Meanwhile–we are beginning to form our next edition of Clover, A Literary Rag.  Volume 6 will be out in December and we are excited about its content.  Putting a volume together is a little like making bread.  We have great ingredients.  Stay tuned!



Four Candles

Officially we will celebrate the Independent Writers’ Studio’s birthday at our Clover, A Literary Rag event on Saturday, September 28th at Village Books.  Wish us well.  Join us then for a reading from our Volume 5 of Clover.  The studio is four years old, and is a Recession baby.   She’s up and walking and talking.

The idea of a literary magazine grew out of the groups.  Norman Green and I wanted to highlight the fine work done by those who consistently and faithfully bring their poems and stories to the table.  The idea grew and Clover now gets submissions from some of the finest writers  around–and that  challenges us to a higher bar.cropped-iws-group.jpg

So in a lovely way, we celebrate Clover’s birthday, too.

I believe anyone who has a poem in the heart should have a voice in the world.

Thank-you Wednesday night group.  Thank-you Monday group.  Keep those nouns and verbs coming.

Happy Birthday IWS.




Bellingham — save the date!

Please join many of Clover, A Literary Rag’s wonderful writers at our launch at Village Books in Fairhaven, this Sunday, September 25, at 4PM.

Among the poets — James Bertolino — who we are so honored to have in our pages.  Jim has been writing poetry for 40 years.  His first book of poetry came out in 1968.  His latest, Finding Water, Holding Stone was published in 2009, and one that I am happy to have among my books of poetry.  Jim is as gracious and kind of man as he is talented.   From the Chuckanut Radio Hour we have our own Shelley Muzzy who will read a piece from her novel-in-progress, Love and Haight.  Jim Milstead and Andrew Shattuck McBride will also read  poems.  And that’s not all — but why give the whole afternoon away?

Norman L. Green and I will host the afternoon reading.  Norman is a Walk Award winner of the Sue C. Boynton Poetry Contest.  He is the ideas’man behind Clover… and co-editor.  He is the true right arm of the Independent Writers’ Studio.

Join us on Sunday at Village Books — at 4 PM.  Clover, A Literary Rag, Vol. 2 is made here in Bellingham, Washington by Bellingham artists and artisans.