AshleyBy Ashley Lodato

Poetry is in the air these past few weeks. Students have been writing poetry at school, some in conjunction with visiting former Washington state poet laureate Sam Green, and a group of writers sat in on a workshop with Sam last week. Meanwhile, the current poet laureate, Kathleen Flenniken, hosted a gala for Floating Bridge Press, whose mission is to promote the work of Washington state’s poets.

Floating Bridge Press’s board, which includes Flenniken, picks 30 poems each year to publish in a collection and this year’s book included a poem by Danica Ready.

As one of the honored poets, Danica was invited to share two poems at a reading at the Jack Straw Cultural Center the last weekend in October. Danica says the reading consisted of about 20 poets and their fan clubs; hers included her daughter, her parents, and a college friend. The work read by the other poets was edgy and sassy, says Danica, as were the poems she chose to read.

A perfect black and starry sky lent Halloween an eerie atmosphere last Thursday night, at least for those who were off the main streets. A gang of about 25 kids paid visits to some homes on Wolf Creek and were treated to Lynette Westendorf’s mysterious musical haunted house.

The kids stormed the castle, barging into her living room like a pack of wild dogs, but fell silent when Lynette began playing scary music on an instrument that I can best describe as an organ in a box.

Then the spooky spell was broken by Bodie Paul (dressed fetchingly as Mrs. Howell from Gilligan’s Island) reaching over Lynette’s shoulder and playing a one-handed “Ode to Joy.” But Lynette added some minor chords and the joyful song turned ominous, giving us all a shiver as we exited and headed on foot down the dark road.

Missoula Children’s Theatre is bringing Blackbeard the Pirate in two weeks and in honor of that I thought I’d give a shout-out to two recent birthday gals: Nancy Acheson and Jennifer Wallis. Both are instrumental in making this 60-kid production come to life –Nancy as a piano accompanist and Jennifer as admin support – and both had birthdays over this past weekend. Happy birthday, ladies! May the year to come bring you, oh, some quality time with five dozen kids dressed up as pirates and mermaids.