Arts and Entertainment

Poetry, art, music to come alive at the Ave

Elizabeth Austen - Courtesy photo
Elizabeth Austen
— image credit: Courtesy photo

National Poetry Month in Auburn culminates Tuesday evening with a reading featuring poetry by Elizabeth Austen and Peter Ludwin, artwork by Michael Taskey and music from Roots 5.

The program begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Auburn Avenue Theater, 10 Auburn Ave.

The event is free and open to the public, with a suggested $5 donation going to the Auburn Food Bank.

The Auburn Arts Commission, The City of Auburn, and King County 4Culture are sponsoring the event. NorthWest Renaissance presents it.

Austen is a Seattle-based poet, performer and teacher. She spent her teens and 20s working in theatre as an actor and director for Book-It, Repertory Theatre, Seattle Shakespeare Theatre, and writing poems.

A six-month solo walkabout in the Andes region of South America led her to focus exclusively on poetry. Having discovered the joy of blending her early theater experience with her passion for poetry as a spoken art form, she was hooked.

Austen's been producing poetry for radio audiences, interviewing poets and producing poetry segments for KUOW since 2001.

Peter Ludwin

Ludwin, among the most peripatetic of contemporary poets, has spent a large part of his life traveling the world, visiting remote Indian families in the Ecuadorean Amazon, hitchhiking in Greece, bargaining in the Marrakech market – finding friends wherever he goes. His primary residence, however, is in Kent.

His first full-length collection of poems, "A Guest in All Your Houses" (Word Walker Press, 2009) gives readers a sense of at least some of the places he's been, and more are contained in his second book, "Rumors of Fallible Gods", which was a finalist for the Gival Press Poetry Award in both 2010 and 2011, and published last year by Presa Press.

Ludwin is the recipient of an Artist Trust Literary Fellowship and the W.D. Snodgrass Award for Endeavor and Excellence in Poetry. He has been nominated multiple times for a Pushcart Prize. Soundings Review named him the winner of its spring/summer 2011 Reader's Choice award for his poem, "A Convocation of Crows," and The Comstock Review named his poem, "Trial of Compassion, Baker City, Oregon" for Special Merit Recognition in the 2012 Muriel Craft Bailey Memorial Awards Contest.

Michael Taskey

Taskey, a woodcarver and musician, has created a work of art that may very well squeeze the heart of any parent. From a wooden post, he has made "Peg," a tribute to John E. Jones and his boy Evan John, 18, both dead in the Franklin Mine Disaster of August 24, 1894, which took the lives of 37 men from the little town next to Black Diamond.

The Kent resident's other work in wood reflects flora and fauna of the Green River and its surroundings: sinuously carved bas relief twigs bearing the suggestion of leaves, a marbled murrelet and other birds – all carved with tools once used by his Great Uncle Stanley.

'Peg" and other pieces will be on display in the theater lobby. Some, including "Peg," were completed during a Storefront residency in downtown Auburn this spring, and will be shown again during the Auburn Art Walk on May 10.

Root 5

Born from a 2012 ad on Craigslist, Root 5 is a four-member band of musical forty-somethings with metaphorical roots not only in the Puget Sound area, but in the musical breeding grounds of Boston, Chicago and California.

And the music they play? It's mellow, it's rocking, it's moody, it's country. The band's strength, says front man Michael Taskey, is that "we're all Americans, and American music is what we play." Band members are also strongly community-oriented, each an active, dedicated volunteer.

Michael Taskey plays guitar, banjo, accordion, and vocals. His father, who played accordion in a polka band, and he cut his own musical teeth playing with hardcore and progressive rock bands in clubs across the Northeast. He volunteers as an art and music teacher and coaches youth sports.

Find the band online at, or

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