Mike Hickey

Nominated by It’s About Time Reading Series

Mike Hickey is currently working on a sequel to his first novel, Counterclockwise. He has also published a poetry chapbook, In Defense of Eve, as well as won awards for poetry, teaching, and as a labor leader for the American Federation of Teachers. In addition to being a tenured creative writing instructor at South Seattle Community College, he has taught as a volunteer to children at summer bereavement camps, to at-risk youth in White Center, and to prisoners at the Monroe Correctional Complex. He lives in West Seattle with his wife, Mona, and their two-year-old son, Nathan.

It’s About Time Writers Reading Series exists for all those who want to write. It is dedicated to an end of racism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, homelessness & war.

They nominated Mike because: “He has been participating in the It’s About Time Writers Reading Series for over a decade. Not only has he read his own work and presented a popular Writer’s Craft talk, he brings his students from both South Seattle Community College and UW Experimental College to participate, either through reading themselves or listening to others read. Mike’s years of teaching, as well as his involvement with the wider community, reflect his devotion to furthering fairness and justice in the public sphere. He represents It’s About Time's vision.”

Statement

Less that 2% of Americans read poetry. And I ask myself WHY? Why would a medium so dynamic and powerful be so widely ignored? Is it because many contemporary poets have relieved themselves of the obligation to have a point, to advance some insight to their readers regarding love, politics, the human animal, the world in which we live? The poet Thomas Lux once told me that a large number of today's poets aren't worried about being misunderstood, they're worried about being understood, because essentially they don't have anything very important to say. Since 1995, I have been teaching students that one doesn't have to sacrifice clarity for creativity. And when a fourth grader writes, "A dress walked by with a woman inside..." I know that poetry is still very much alive and well. This is the message I would like to deliver if elected Poet Populist!

Poem

Don’t Read This Poem

unless your glass is half-full
unless you’re willing to believe
that for every pissed-off tornado
like the one in The Wizard of Oz
there is a sweet sister-twister
like the whirlwind in St. Mary’s, Kansas, 1993.

Ma asleep for hours,
I hit the rack around midnight.
Pa stumbles home drunk as usual
fumbles to find his key
but there is no keyhole
because there is no house.
The old, white A-frame is now perched a hundred feet away

with uncanny symmetry on top of the barn.
as Ma & I snooze dreamily inside
heirloom china neither chipped nor cracked
antique crystal in mint condition
no farm girls struck on the head
no animals killed or unaccounted for
just a friendly pick-me-up from a lonely cyclone
roaming through Tornado Alley on a Saturday night
with God’s fingerprint swirls all over it.

Four miles down the road
the torrent spins a glorious pit stop
through O’Malley’s greenhouse

	plucks a sizable garden of pink gardenias
			& twirls its way through the state of Kansas
				a resplendent vacuum of positive energy
					a tap-dancing pink tornado of love.

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