Meet Tacoma's first poet laureate

We note with pride that Associate Professor of English William Kupinse was selected from among 13 applicants to be the first Urban Grace Poet Laureate of Tacoma. The good professor (who is a little uncomfortable with the title; he thinks a more straightforward “City Poet” might be better for a town that’s not ashamed of its calloused hands) will hold the position for one year. Urban Grace church sponsored the poet laureate competition, along with its downtown neighbor, the Broadway Center for the Performing Arts. When Tacoma Mayor Bill Baarsma ’64 announced the honor on April 4, Kupinse read two of his poems, including this one, the sentiment of which we can relate to as summer yardwork begins:

A curse on leaf blowers and the men who love them
In all their zeal for smoke and rattle,
the Futurists never envisioned your leaf blowers
pounding the geometry of row houses.
Yesterday, I cast a spell to charm
the throatwhistlers’ roar
to silence if not wonder,
but once more this morning I hear
their tintinnabulation.

If not a charm, a curse then:
To all who handle leaf blowers,
may dust enter your eyes
in ounces not in motes.
May you blast away wanted objects,
family photos, bills of medium denomination,
W-9 forms, eyeglass prescriptions,
cards addressed to grandmothers and elderly aunts.
 
May the allied evil of lawn trimmers
flay your calves like the self-scourges
of an ascetic monk. May humus turn to ashes,
your golf shorts to sackcloth.  May the starter
cord wrap around your neck in dreams.
May your dinner reek of gasoline.

May you some day learn
the meaning of rake.

As part of his poet laureate duties, Professor Kupinse will offer two free, public workshops on poetry writing. The first will convene at the Tacoma Art Museum at 5 p.m. on July 24. This session, titled “Illumination,” coincides with the museum’s exhibition of the St. John’s Bible, a modern-day illuminated manuscript.