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Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest (Pacific Poetry Project)


Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest (Pacific Poetry Project) Cover

ISBN13: 9781932010497
ISBN10: 1932010491
Condition: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The Pacific Northwest’s vast and varied contemporary poetry scene is on display in Alive at the Center, a community-based anthology drawing from Portland, Seattle, and Vancouver, BC. A collection of more than 200 poems from a wide spectrum of poets, Alive at the Center is a cultural snapshot, showcasing the best new and established voices from these three cities. Three poets from each city came together to recognize the best work of their peers, curating a collection that explores the atmosphere, beauty, complexity, and personality of the region. As the inaugural project from Ooligan Press’s Pacific Poetry Project, this book embodies the Project’s mission to bring poetry to the people by making contemporary poetic voices accessible and exciting for everyone through community involvement and conversation.

About the Author

Alive at the Center was compiled by three well-known poets from each city, who worked together to select and compile the most representative work of their communities. They are: Susan Denning, Jesse Lichenstein, and Leah Stenson (Portland); Cody Walker, Kathleen Flenniken, and David D. Horowitz (Seattle); and Daniela Elza, Bonnie Nish, and Robin Susanto (Vancouver).
Author bios from all contributing poets will be available at

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Christopher Thomas, August 13, 2015 (view all comments by Christopher Thomas)
Taken from my full review at


I was really impressed with this poetry collection. I don't like to give perfect scores, but I would certainly not want this book to suffer on sites like Amazon because they won't allow you to give a 4.5 and this is closer to deserving a 5 than a 4, so just suffice it to say that Alive at the Center is a 5 out of 5.


I'll keep this review short and sweet because it's a lot more difficult to review a book of poems than a book of prose. Overall, in a poetry anthology, if there are a handful of poems that don't really strike me, I don't deduct quality points because it's hard to get a collection of varying styles and artists and have it all work for every reader. Having said that, there were very few of these poems that I didn't at least keep me engaged, which was a pleasant surprise. This was a vast improvement from the last Ooligan poetry book, We Belong in History, that I reviewed here. So for the sake of brevity I'll just say why I think the book is worth reading and then I'll talk about my favorite poem from each city.

Why should you buy Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest? Well, if you like poetry, then there's one reason. Also, if you happen to want a sampling of the arts culture of any of the cities (or the Pacific Northwest in general) included in the title, it's a great way to get that sampling in one place without having to get piles and piles of chapbooks. Also, the anthology nature of the book is a great way to get a list of poets for further reading if you happen to like their poems. Plus, and this is no small thing, I really like the cover design -- does that mean you should buy the book? Maybe not, but it's cool looking.

From Vancouver, BC, I found Robin Susanto's "After the Tsunami" to be quite beautiful and touching -- the imagery is amazing. With lines like "But still you touch your lips to the sea//Run your hand over the water, as if it was the fur of a sleeping animal" what more could you want in the way of a poem giving you a visual? It reminds me a lot of a poem I once wrote about a capsized ship. When it came to Seattle's poems, I found myself fond of "From the Tower" by Heather McHugh because it reminds me so much of how I feel about today's insulated intelligentsia and morality police. There's noting earth-shattering about the techniques employed in the poem, but it's a rare thing to stumble upon a poem with perfect timing; to find "From the Tower" as I've been thinking a lot about related subject matter has forever embedded it in my mind. I wasn't saving the best for last on purpose; Portland is the last city in the book, but I wish it had been first because it's where I chose to live when I escaped the east coast. Sarah Bartlett's "Voice Over Guerillas" speaks to me and I can't quite place the reason why, but I found myself re-reading the lines "We all suspect everything//is an accident//on purpose//Existentially it's a toughie//But I finally did it//I met you//Isn't that enough" and finding them more lovely each time. There's something to that.
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Theresa Tyree, May 22, 2014 (view all comments by Theresa Tyree)
Alive at the Center was a delicious little collection of poetry from the people of the Vancouver BC, Seattle, and Portland. Having lived and stayed in many of these places during my lifetime, I found the collection not only represent the geography and mindset of the people from the North West, but made me feel at home. If you're from the North West and looking for a piece of home to carry around in your pocket, I would recommend this book.
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Product Details

Denning, Susan
Ooligan Press
Elza, Daniela
Nish, Bonnie
Walker, Cody
Anthologies (multiple authors)
Anthologies-Miscellaneous International Poetry
Poetry -Anthologies
Poetry-A to Z
Edition Description:
Print PDF
Pacific Poetry Project
Publication Date:
8.5 x 5.5 x 0.6 in 0.25 lb

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Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Miscellaneous International Poetry
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Pacific Northwest » Poetry
Fiction and Poetry » Anthologies » Poetry
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » A to Z
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » Anthologies
Fiction and Poetry » Poetry » Featured Titles

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