Thomas Hubbard

Nominated by PoetsWest

Thomas Hubbard is a retired writing instructor and winner of Seattle's 1995 Grand Slam. His publications include Nail and other hardworking poems; Children Remember Their Fathers; Junkyard Dogz; book reviews in Square Lake and Raven Chronicles; poems in anthologies including PoetsWest, Arabesques Review: International Poetry and Literature Journal; and To Topos Poetry International Fall 2006; and fiction in Red Ink from University of Arizona’s American Indian Studies Program. He presented instruction at Whidbey Island Writers Conference 2007 and has featured for Tacoma’s Distinguished Writers Series and Whatcom Poetry Series. Hubbard served as Vice President for Washington Poets Association.

PoetsWest, a nonprofit organization, links the poet with readers and listeners in the broader community through reading venues, website and syndicated weekly radio programs.

They nominated Thomas because: “He is first and foremost a good poet whose narrative style of poetry and accessible language make him popular with audiences everywhere. His commanding presence and speaking voice lend authority to a poetry that reaches out to and celebrates the common man/woman. His Native American and mixed blood heritage give him special insights into the American experience and his real life experiences in various trades and as a teacher, poet, writer, and publisher provide perspectives that are reflected in his narratives. These perspectives are especially meaningful for all of us both now and in the future.”

Statement

As Seattle’s Poet Populist, I would bring poetry to any audience in Seattle. Retirement from teaching gives me a completely flexible schedule with plenty of time and energy. And as an experienced teacher, I can support teachers’ objectives in classrooms. I would also bring poetry to senior centers and Seattle Housing Authority residences. Familiarity with many local venues gives me many poet friends to bring along. Maturity and experience have shaped my poetry into observations of others instead of autobiographical pieces. As Poet Populist, I would bring my audience poetry that relates to Seattle and the people who live here.

Poem

That Friday Afternoon

Friday afternoon at the Latona Tavern, you and I
stepping through the door, into a wall of bebop,
that young Puerto Rican man driving the beat-up piano
beyond possibility, beyond amazement, into pure beyondo
his older friend draped around a bass violin that
looked to have been varnished by a house painter,
plucking the strings with such wild, imperative precision,
supporting, coaxing, urging all the piano’s momentum
so that each pause, with the room’s noisy conversation
peeking through for an instant, then immediately
overcome by the next insistent phrase, the next
unpredictable extension of infallible logic
pounding from the piano’s excitement, yes, yes, each
pause made the music a tall, solid fence with occasional
missing boards allowing a landscape of crowd-babble to
momentarily appear, then vanish, and that kid, that kid,
not more than twenty three, slumped on the drum throne,
squinting through his shades, nodding agreement
as his sticks danced on the snare, the hi-hat, the ride cymbal
my god how can he do that, how can it be and do you remember
his mother offering to share her table before two seats miraculously
opened at the bar for us, only feet from the trio, do you remember
his mother, sitting solitary by the window, glowing pride, while the
old neighborhood bar plowed into summer’s evening
like a battleship slicing through the sea, inevitable power from
crazy, maddening bebop, happy, exalting in virtuosity of
these three local players whose problems and hurts cut them
just as deeply as mine or yours, but who set it all aside to
provide an afternoon worship of the human experience.

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