Lisa Bickmore: Poetry of Place

Thursday evening was a beautiful one to spend on the patio at the King’s English bookshop in Salt Lake City. Air conditioners hummed in the background and children could be heard playing even though it was a school night. A sizable crowd gathered to hear Lisa Bickmore read from her latest poetry collection, Ephemerist. The release of Ephemerist came soon after the release of her second collection, flicker, which she considers a surprise and a gift.

Lisa Bickmore is Professor of English at Salt Lake Community College, where she is also one of the founders of its Publication Center. Her poems have been published in numerous publications, including Quarterly West, Tar River Poetry, Sugarhouse Review, Glass, The Moth, Terrain, and Southword. She was awarded the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize for 2015, and the 2014 Antivenom Prize for her second book, flicker.

Before launching into several selections from both Ephemerist and flicker, Ms. Bickmore took a moment to explain the importance of art in everyone’s life. She feels life is diminished when people have no way of expressing themselves through art.

Ms. Bickmore’s poetry is at times somber or humorous, but always deeply personal. She tackles the difficult issues like aging, grief, and homeless youth with sensitivity and from an accessible perspective. Several poems revolved around the change in perspective she had while traveling overseas and the space in between or disconnect she felt between her daily life and the one she’d stepped into.

The reading lasted about thirty minutes, with Ms. Bickmore choosing to skip a few poems she’d selected for the evening just because they didn’t suit her mood at the moment. Afterward, she retired to the Mystery Room to sign books and answer questions.

Lisa Bickmore’s poetry is very grounded, tightly tied to place, whether she is talking about her home or another country. Take a two hour field trip to someplace nearby, like a hotel lobby, museum, laundromat, or diner. In your notebook, record your impressions. Try to capture the atmosphere – the people, the mood. Use all of your senses. Then, write a poem that ties this ordinary scene to a larger theme.


Chalk the Block Call for Artist

Are you a graphic artist who loves to work with chalk? Would you like a chance to create something for the 2017 Chalk the Block event at the Shops at Riverwoods in Provo? Provo Poetry and Enliten Bakery would like to sponsor an artist for this year’s event and create a beautiful piece of art inspired by and incorporating the work of a local poet. Choose from five poems submitted to Provo Poetry and sketch a proposed chalk painting based on and incorporating your chosen poem (and the name of the poet). This year’s event is September 14th to 16th (with the next weekend as a contingency for rain delays). Send your sketch to with “Chalk the Block” in the subject line by September 7, 2017.

Choose from these poems:



by Laura West


Winds twist violently

through tired branches of our peach

tree, heaving dust of summer.

The cleansing September rain,

for us, cannot come too soon.



by Colin Douglas


“Your poems are querulous.”

So says the woman who leaves the table,

Frowning with disapproval.

Querulous? But she may be right,

And I would prefer to hide in a huckleberry bush,

Feet in the roots, hands extended into the leaves




by Neil Shelley


In the soft shadows,

contractions birth her strength.

Sweat beads upon skin;

he sees a crimson drop fall.

Her work done, the cry anew.




What will you call her?

by Bonnie Shiffler-Olsen


compass of quantum foam

conduit of accommodation


juggler of change

absorber of dereliction


sacredly managed veil

of consecration and sacrifice


architect of light vessels


the girl who chews at obedience

like a leather strap












by Trish Hopkinson


The corpses jump like

jellyfish balloons into

a trailing ocean

of exhausted clouds and sky.

They don’t know they are dying.

Put a Ring on It Writing Contest

This unique writing contest wants you to sell us all on love in order to win a gorgeous $2000 platinum and 18k yellow gold wedding band (men’s size 10/11) AND get published on Speak For Yourself Open Mic’s blog ( AND feature at the open mic. Previously published work is welcome and you can submit multiple pieces for a single entry fee (10 page limit).

This ring loves love. It was created to express undying love and it really wants to get back out into the world doing what it loves most. That’s where you come in. I’m not asking you to make me believe in romantic love again. I already believe. I just haven’t seen evidence of it for a long, long time. What I want you to do is to shore up my hope that romantic love can actually happen in this crazy world of heartbreak and dashed dreams. Tell me your story (or somebody else’s?). Warm my heart. Make me laugh. Make me happy to cry.

Deadline: May 30th

Submit to: