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Poet Christine Deavel On The Choice To Make Art

KUOW Photo/Elizabeth Austen

Why do we make art? and Is it worth the personal cost? are two of the central questions in Christine Deavel's poetry collection "Woodnote" (Bear Star Press, 2011). Deavel is the co-owner of a poetry-only bookstore in Seattle's Wallingford neighborhood, and a graduate of the prestigious Iowa Writers Workshop. "Woodnote" has even won the Washington State Book award for poetry. But even so, Deavel describes herself as someone who is almost constantly in crisis about why she, or anyone, writes. KUOW's Elizabeth Austen spoke with Christine Deavel about that ambivalence and how it plays out in her work.

In her poem "Economy," Deavel interleaves excerpts from a relative's early 20th century diaries — brief daily entries made faithfully for 54 years — with her own obsessive questioning about how to value the art she makes. Deavel talks about what drew her to the diaries as source material, and why, after devoting her life to poetry, she still questions why she does it. Pianist Robin Holcomb improvises while Deavel reads an excerpt from "Economy," recorded at the Good Shepherd Center in October 2011.

About Christine Deavel And "Woodnote"

Deavel is co-owner of Open Books: a Poem Emporium, one of just three poetry-only bookstores in the United States. She is the author of the poetry chapbook "Box of Little Spruce" (LitRag Press, 2005) and the collection "Woodnote," which won the2012 Washington State Book Award for poetry and the 2011 Dorothy Brunsman Poetry Prize. She graduated from Indiana University and the University of Iowa, and currently lives in Seattle.