Tag Archives: Luke Byram

5 Question Friday With Tacoma Poet Laureate Josie Turner

This week’s 5 Question Friday is a guest post from Luke Byram. Luke has done a handful of these before and always finds interesting people. Here he is with Tacoma’s own Poet Laureate, Josie Turner. 

I first saw Josie Turner on CityLine talking about her recent appointment as Poet Laureate of Tacoma and her plans in that role. Without further ado… here is Josie Turner.


1. What do you most love about poetry, why?

The poetic form allows the reader/listener to open the imagination.   Poetry can make you laugh, cry, break your heart, bring the senses alive.  It is what makes us human – that appreciation for the emotion.

2. What is your number one goal as Poet Laureate? 

I just want people to become more aware of poetry, to realize that poetry is not an abstract, but a living art form.   People often  think poetry was something written in the 19th century or even before and thus, because of the complexity of reading language we are not use to hearing, people think poetry is unapproachable or only cerebral.  But poetry in its best contemporary form speaks to the human condition and its metaphor reaches the reader/listener in some deeper place of the soul.

3. What is your favorite type of poetry, why?

I like good well written poems that speak to me.  I don’t have a favorite type of poetry.  I am open to all forms and love the discovery and appreciation of new poets.

4. Who is your favorite poet, why?

I don’t have a favorite but am influenced by a wide range of poets.  In the area, I have tremendous respect for Allen Braden, Marjorie Rommel, Rachel Dilworth, Kelli  Agodon Russell, Kathleen Flinniken, Michael Magee… gosh there are so many.  Casting a wider net, some of the more contemporary poets I continue to return to include Lola Haskins, Jane Kenyon, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman, Mark Doty, WS Merwin.  I was raised on the coast of California and never tire of Robinson Jeffers.  We have a great press in Washington State – Copper Canyon  in Port Townsend.  I adore the various translations they have published and would recommend someone new to poetry to search their website for an interesting read.

5. What are your plans for 2012 as Poet Laureate? 

There was a recent death in my family so I am a bit behind firming up plans for this year.  That said, I plan to organize an activity around National Poetry Month in April and will be giving a couple of workshops – one in the spring and one in the fall.  I have been invited to read at Fogdog Poetry in Arlington in October and am looking forward to that.  In November, I hosted a reading by young poets at Kings Books.  I am very interested in promoting the efforts of youth and providing opportunities for them to read so I will be organizing another couple of these events in the coming months.

If you are interested in participating in 5 Question Friday or know of someone you think might make a good participant, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com  – Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With Equal Time’s Frank Blair

Occasionally, I let others do 5 Question Fridays for TacomaStories.com. Luke Byram has previously contributed to Tacoma Stories with 5 Question Fridays from Amanda Westbrook and Kathleen Merryman. This week, he’s back with a 5 Question Friday with Frank Blair. Who is Frank Blair? I’ll let Luke and Frank answer that question.
-Jack Cameron

Frank Blair has been an active member of Tacoma for a while. He has been the facility manager of Manitou Community Center and was involved in the community garden which was created there. Frank’s daughter, Sheena was killed by a drunk driver in February of 2010 in Everett. Ever since that dreadful night, he’s been on a crusade to stop DUI crashes and stiffen penalties of drunk drivers. Lets find out how he has and is accomplishing this task. Without further ado, here’s Frank’s responses to a set of 5 questions that we put to him.

1. How long have you been co-host of Equal Time on KLAY 180 FM?
I have never done Equal Time on 180 KLAY. But I HAVE been co-host on 1180 KLAY in various incarnations since 1999. GREAT time to start a liberal talk show, just as the bush administration was taking office.

2. What subjects/topics do you cover on Equal Time?
Equal Time is primarily a political talk show. We have also covered everything from gardening to local artists, film makers, authors, organized labor and veteran’s issues.

3. Who’s been your favorite guest on Equal Time?
I think the greatest honor I ever had as a broadcaster was an hour long in-studio interview with General John Shalikashvili. This interview took place just before the war in Iraq was launched. I also hold dear our interviews with Dr Jeni Gregory, a trauma councilor who works with children traumatized by war. She works with child soldiers in Africa and has done work with other children in horrid situations around the world.

4. How are you working on preventing DUI wrecks?
My wife Carol and I are working to prevent DUI deaths in a three pronged approach. First, working with legislators to increase penalties for DUI and vehicular homicide to deter a percentage of the population from taking the chance to drive impaired. Second, through education in the sense of sharing how Sheena’s death has impacted and continues to impact our family. Third, and most importantly, providing viable alternative to driving drunk in the first place. We support programs to get impaired drivers home at low or no cost.

5. Why are you on a mission to prevent DUI wrecks?
We became active with DUI issues because our daughter Sheena was killed in a head on collision at the hands of a drunk driver. That night we were shoved into a line with thousands of other families of DUI victims in front of us. We feel that it is our moral obligation to shorten the line behind us. Every DUI vehicular homicide that we see on the news sickens us. Many people express that “Somebody should DO something”. Sometimes that “someone” is ME.

I’d like to thank Frank Blair for participating in 5 Question Friday and Luke Byram for conducting the interview. You can find out more about Frank Blair and his Equal Time program at: http://equaltimeradio.net/

As always, if you or anyone you know wants to be a part of 5 Question Friday, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com

5 Question Friday With TV Tacoma’s Amanda Westbrooke

I’ve been fairly busy finishing up my novel and dealing with some personal issues. I honestly didn’t have time to do a 5 Question Friday this week. Luckily, Luke Byram was able to help me out. Here’s Luke:

I first met Amanda when she taught drama at First Pres. She has been a long-time resident of Tacoma and an active member of Tacoma. She was the Education Director for Tacoma Little Theatre. She is co-host of TV Tacoma’s Cityline with Carol Mitchell. She attends many Tacoma events and is present at them, I’ve bumped into her at a couple events myself. Without further a due, I put 5 Questions up to her for 5 Question Friday, here are her responses.  

1. When did you start at TV Tacoma?

I started 6 years ago by accident. I was the Ed. Director for Tacoma Little Theatre and was scheduled to chat about our upcoming season. That morning our host was ill and the producer Phil Chang was going to cancel the show.I distinctly remembering saying to him that he couldn’t cancel…that I would never get my board president to come back with me and that this was so important. Phil calmly asked if I wanted to host the show. I thought about it and told him that I needed to go walk the hall and talk to my GOD in private for a bit and I would let him know. He said I have 5 minutes. I remembered in those 5 min that I have journaled 2 weeks earlier that I wanted to try TV and didn’t know how to go about it. It was then that I knew that I had to jump and do it…that I would sprout wings. The rest as we say is history!

2. Who has been your favorite guest on Cityline?

Well…all of them…Because they are passionate about Tacoma and love to serve. I have the pleasure and privilege of interviewing angels. Most of my guests have full time careers, families in addition to the project that they are currently promoting. Every single one of them has a ministry…I love them all and feel honored to sit next to them in all their brilliance.

3. What is your favorite Tacoma event?

Well…  it is a tie between Relay 4 life and Ethnic Fest. Yes I know…2 radically different events. Relay 4 life started in Tacoma and every year they surpass themselves in sponsorship, participation and courage. I leave Relay 4 life born again with a renewed sense of love, compassion and empathy for all the survivors, caregivers and those we lost to this dreaded disease.. Ethnic Fest has it all. A huge party with the best food, art ,music and people that Tacoma has to offer. It is a tapestry of diversity and harmony…it is Tacoma at its best.

4. What is your favorite place in Tacoma?

Wright Park. I fell in love with this park 15 years ago when I moved here. I would take my daughter to that park and we would spend the afternoon picnicking, reading and exploring every tree and swing. It is spectacular…I often imagine how if felt 100 years ago. I love how it has become a hub for our community. Don’t even get me started on the conservatory…it is mind blowing!

5. What are your plans for the future?

I would love to travel to Lesotho South Africa and spend some time with the children there teaching creativity, journalism etc,. I would love to stretch my wings on Network news…. For the most part however I measure my future one day at a time.I believe the following poem says it all!

My Symphony
“To live content with small means;
To seek elegance rather than luxury,
and refinement rather than fashion;
To be worthy , not respectable, and wealthy, not rich;
To study hard, think quietly,
Talk gently,
Act frankly;
To listen to stars and birds, to babes and sages, with open heart;
To bear all cheerfully,
Do all bravely,
Await occasions,
Hurry never.
In a word, to let the spiritual, unbidden and unconscious, grow up through the common.
 William Henry Channing (1810-1884)

You can catch CityLine at http://www.cityoftacoma.org/Page.aspx?hid=10248

I want to thank Amanda and Luke for taking the time and being part of 5 Question Friday.

As always, if you think you or someone you know wants to participate in 5 Question Friday, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com

-Jack Cameron

5 Question Friday With News Tribune Columnist Kathleen Merryman

Recent 5 Question Friday participant Luke Byram enjoyed doing 5 Question Friday so much, he asked if he could try his hand at being the questioner. For his first 5 Question Friday, he’s talking to News Tribune columnist Kathleen Merryman. So here are Luke’s questions and Kathleen’s answers.  

1. What is your favorite column you have written?

You know, Luke, I don’t have one. It¹s just a privilege to be allowed to tell the stories of the community I love.

2. What is your favorite column, who’s it written by?

Dave Barry won the Pulitzer for commentary. I wish he still wrote a weekly column. Bloviating is easy. Comedy is hard. Using it to explore important issues without alienating half the readers is genius.

3. What community activities are you involved in?

There are plenty of people out there who are much smarter than I am, and they are developing the ideas behind the big, positive changes in Tacoma. Some of those ideas need muscle, and that’s where my husband and I jump in. Remember the old ‘Give 5’ campaign that challenged all of us to give five hours of volunteer work a week and 5 percent of our income to non-profits? It launched when our daughter was in pre-school, and at the time we thought it was impossible.

Through our daughter’s school years, it got easier. We helped on auctions, special events and at the school store. We’ve both served on boards, but agree that most anyone is better at that than we are.

Groups ask me to speak at events, which, as a shy person, is a huge stretch. The advantage is that I get to learn about groups like CASA  and University Place volunteers, who are doing the work that is transforming this community for the better.

Community groups let me jump in on work parties, pulling ivy, caroling and picketing with First Creek Neighbors, digging and hauling blackberries at McKinley Park, picking up trash on community cleanups in Summit and the Lincoln District, painting over tagging with Dome Top Neighborhood Alliance and Lincoln Lawgs. It’s always a blast.

We¹ve volunteered with Habitat for Humanity and Emergency Food Network (including Plant-A-Row with our garden this summer) and will again.

This summer, we’re on our second house with Paint Tacoma-Pierce Beautiful. That¹s been pretty much all weekend, every weekend except two, since June. It¹s also been a lot of fun, working with delightful people. One of my favorites is Phu Bui, 17, a student at SOTA. His neighbor, the amazing Edwina Magrum, suggested he letter in volunteerism with United Way, and he’s going for it big-time.

When you’re a reporter or columnist, you never know whether you’re doing the community any good. When you paint a house and clean up a yard for a senior or disabled person, you know you’re making one person’s life easier. You’re also making a neighborhood prettier, which fights crime and supports property values. Also, it’s a fabulous weight loss program.

4. How has the newspaper industry changed, what is most startling to you?

My first journalism job was as the Meeteetse Page correspondent for the Cody Enterprise in Wyoming in 1972. I made $10 a week, shot my own photos with real film and wrote my stories on a manual typewriter in a log cabin. And not one of those nice log cabins. It was a drafty settler’s cabin that has since fallen down. No kidding.

When I landed a job as obit writer at The Billings Gazette in Montana, one of my jobs was rolling the ticker tape that was used to transmit copy. Computers have changed everything. Information is much more readily available, as is misinformation. The process of writing and editing is streamlined. Reader feedback is virtually instantaneous.

We network with blogs and Facebook, and have a broader and more immediate connection to the community.

 Newspapers have been quick to adopt new technology, and are figuring out how to make money on new business models. That’s been a bumpy ride, what with furloughs, freezes, layoffs and buyouts.

Our staff is much smaller than it once was, but the people I work with are far more productive on more platforms than we were in olden times.

5. How has Tacoma changed over the years?

For the better, and from the bottom up. When I came to what was then The Tacoma News Tribune 28 years ago from Spokane, a friend asked why I¹d want to live in the official state armpit. Um, a full-time job?

Back then, Pacific Avenue was lined with strip clubs. Gangs ran the Hilltop and the East Side. Salishan was a dangerous dump.

Union Station, the History Museum and UWT put money and confidence back in the downtown.

Hilltop Action Coalition members took their stand on crime, followed by Safe Streets. They demanded, and earned, more effective policing. These are heroes like Sally Peterson, Skip Young and Jeannie Peterson who made walk-about rounds, took photos of gang and drug  knuckleheads at work, recorded the license plates at crime houses and, most importantly, bought their homes and stabilized their neighborhoods.

The city-wide honor roll is pretty long now: Dan Fear, Edwina Magrum, Andy Mordhorst, the Scheidt family, the Grotes, Frank Blair, Darren Pen, Moni Hoy, the Vignecs, Rose Perrino, Laura Rodriguez, Bob McCutchan, David Whited (keep going, and add your name here.)

Leaders at the ground level are moving through neighborhood councils onto the city council and the school board. That keeps the pressure on officials to invest in all parts of town.

We are a smart city, smart enough to know that community gardens fight crime, and taste yummy.

We are a connected city, using social media for everything from crime watches to work party announcements.

We are a city with a sense of humor and a scrappy soul. I can’t see that changing.

Thanks both to Luke Byram and Kathleen Merryman for taking the time to participate in 5 Question Friday. If you or someone you know is interested in taking part in 5 Question Friday, email me at jackcameronis@gmail.com.

5 Question Friday With Tacoma Blogger Luke Byram

Once Tacoma was named America’s most wired city. So I suppose it’s not a surprise that there are quite a few people out there who just love writing about Tacoma. Luke Byram is one such writer. He recently contacted me asking if he could do a guest post on Tacoma Stories. I told him I’d welcome the submission. Then I did some quick online research and when it comes to Tacoma websites, Luke Byram is all over the place. He’s a frequent contributor to TacomaMama.com and other local blogs.  The most surprising thing about all of this is that Luke is in 9th Grade. So here are five questions I put to Luke Byram for 5 Question Friday.

1. You’re one of the youngest and most prolific bloggers in Tacoma. How did you get started writing creatively?

I am a news junkie, especially for the Puget Sound area but also nationally a bit. My quest to write started when I was in 7th grade. I stumbled upon a Tacoma news site that recruited Tacoma Community Bloggers for their community blogger program. I am contributing to feedtacoma.com and tacomamama.com.

2. What are some of your favorite things about Tacoma?

My favorite thing about City of Destiny is… Tacomans who care and want to be involved. I love T-Town’s arts and culture as well as the many amazing events.  

3. What’s your favorite Tacoma blog right now and why?

There are many great T-Town blogs out there. I love food so you can’t go wrong with TNT’s Diner Blog written by the awesome Sue Kidd.

4.Where is your favorite spot in Tacoma?

A favorite spot on a sunny day in the summer is Owens Beach. I have to say there are many great spots in Tacoma.

5. What are your writing plans for the future?

Just to continue to write about Tacoma.

As always, if you think you or someone you know would be good for 5 Question Friday, email me and let me know at jackcameronis@gmail.com.