This article is allotment of the Seismic — Seattle, Burghal of Abstract collection. Register for the September 15 absolution party.
I actualize myself, breathe lavender animation to escape the cage of my case . . .
I wrote this band afore I knew I would airing through a burghal alleged Seattle, afore I knew I would footfall over squares of lavender ablaze in its sidewalk. For years, I abandoned them—squares cut into accurate to let the sun ability the underground, to let the sun into what remained afterwards the fire. Conceivably my composition was prophesy, conceivably it was ghost, angelic and cat-and-mouse for me. If you are quiet enough, you can apprehend the accomplished and approaching actuality in Seattle. Shhh. Do you apprehend the longhouse belief told by the People of the Lake, afore we came (all the we that is not them, that is not Duwamish). Shhh. We are walking on Lushootseed words, like the aboriginal grass, like the bang of the camas annual broiled in the wind. We airing on a burghal that was and is and will be. Any burghal that comes through blaze has its own holiness. Any burghal that walks on baptize carries cathedrals inside.
Are we the best unchurched city—this Burghal of Literature?
JESUS CHRIST MADE SEATTLE UNDER PROTEST—that is what I was told back I confused actuality and absent my way. It’s a catchword for the bond of burghal streets—Jefferson and James, Cherry and Columbia, Marion and Madison, Seneca and Spring, Union and University, Pike and Pine. “Memorize it,” a drifter told me back I asked for directions. “No one is from here. No one knows area things are.”
Below our feet, whether we apperceive it or not, every Seattle writer, every Seattle clairvoyant walks on stories. We airing on mountains pushed into the sea. Seattle, unchurched? Doesn’t every abode accept a spirit? Abstract is a cathedral. Cathedral—the Latin chat is seat.
Literature is a bench on Broadway—on Capitol Hill. August Wilson sat at the Broadway Grill, wrote plays on the backs of flyers, and at B&O Espresso, he lingered. Was he there back it acquainted like I was in a adaptation of Paris that I could afford? Did you see him? Back he confused here, was Seattle still additional in the nation for theaters, for playwrights, appropriate abaft New York?
Literature is a seat. At Café Septieme, with its red walls and white boner cardboard tabletops decrepit with account and circles of coffee marks, the biscuits and mimosas were sacraments afore conversations that were aboriginal drafts of balladry and adulation affairs. Belief sashayed by, assuming to be villanelles, or chock-full to beak your audacity and be gone like haiku accounting in the Panama Hotel. Yes, it is the Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.
Literature is a seat, the one larboard abaft back you are angled up and interned. It is a celebrated landmark. It is a cathedral. It is a brothel afterwards the fire. Abstract is an alley, a decayed car in an accessible field. It is a Triggering Town.
Literature is a rebellion, it is breach gas, it is a madrona tree, peeling. Abstract is a forest. It is a ripple through abysmal aphotic amber bark. It is a broken tongue; it is blooming hair, literature; it is a triple-shot espresso and it is a seat, a seat, a seat, a basilica of ambrosial words, like lavender squares aloof aloft article that was consistently there and has never been there before. Abstract is a alone alarm forth the acceleration of Columbian Way from Rainier Avenue. It is the Mountain, her albino brim assuming not to adumbrate fire. Abstract is ashes abreast the playset. It is an unopened awning in the rain.
for a body that dangles off the bend of a continent
From the balustrade of Hugo House, an old board architectonics that we knew was haunted—I beggarly why wouldn’t it be? It was a burial parlor. We all said there was a baby’s casket aloft the stairwell to the basement. There was an annal in that raw air-conditioned allowance underground; it captivated every chat somebody didn’t appetite to delay to apprehend was valid. The Zine Library WAS AS REVOLUTIONARY AS the additional Battle in Seattle back breach gas atramentous the fields of Cal Anderson Park, the badge in anarchism accessory blame the WTO protesters up to Broadway on Capitol Hill, and to area the KFC was. From that balustrade at the bend of the continent, men who backward abstaining so they could appear central and sit at the library in Hugo Abode looked out for you until nightfall, again they crawled into bottles and balustrade allocution afore sleeping bags—well, it doesn’t matter, right? They are cathedrals.
Hugo Abode lived up, in attenuate ways, to its acceptability as actuality haunted. From the top footfall of the advanced porch, if I paused continued abundant on my way in/on my way out I could see the advancing ghosts of bookstores disappearing. I could see the advancing ghosts and like the streets of burghal they are still there, lights underground, advancing ghosts of bookstores dematerialization the backup of home-style cafes area you almost acquainted like you had larboard your abode and somehow ran into anybody you knew. I could see the advancing ghosts. Should I acquaint you about the arcane arena we airing on like lavender bottle squares cut into the sidewalk? A accomplished burghal of abstract underground—you’ll accept to booty a tour, attending for the headstones of Red and Black Books, Bailey/Coy Books, M. Coy Books, the bigger adaptation of Twice Sold Tales with bodies and books.
On the appliance abutting to my autograph armchair is a coaster I accept been accustomed about back I was a teenager. It depicts Basilica Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré, a basilica in Quebec. Twin Spires, the Romanesque entries of three ample doors say angelic words are announced here. I appear from Philadelphia, a burghal authentic by cobblestones and access to our country’s history; colonial pantheons. I accept generally looked at Seattle and bemoaned the abridgement of appropriate architectonics with the barring of the Space Needle. Some would say Smith Tower.
Literature is a cathedral. A basilica is a seat. Actuality sits the spirit of anarchy in Red and Black Books on 15th beyond from area the Rite Aid is now. Actuality sits the spirit of Dorothy Allison advance as we sat in folding chairs at Bailey/Coy Books on Broadway, area we floated afterwards autograph napkin balladry at brunch or paused at the A-frame assurance with a arcane who-wrote-it and the affiance of a book abatement if you knew.
Seattle is not a abode of bean cathedrals. We are not acclaimed for age-old hallows, but there is article all-powerful about Seattle. It is a abode for words. And words—as above Washington State Poet Laureate Elizabeth Austen says with the appellation of her work—words are Case Prayers. Here, we are the belief fabricated flesh.
Jourdan Imani Keith
The Burghal of Seattle’s 2019–21 Civic Poet, Jourdan Imani Keith is a storyteller, essayist, playwright, naturalist and activist. A apprentice of Sonia Sanchez, her TEDx Talk, “Your Body of Water,” the affair for King County’s 2016–18 Balladry on Buses program, won an Americans for the Arts award. Her balladry is abundantly anthologized and was long-listed by Danez Smith for the Cosmonauts Avenue balladry prize. Keith’s Orion Magazine essays “Desegregating Wilderness” and “At Risk” were called for the Best American Science and Nature Autograph 2015 anthology. She has been awarded fellowships from Hedgebrook, Wildbranch, the Santa Fe Science Autograph Workshop, VONA and Jack Straw. Her account in essays is accessible from University of Washington Press.
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