The New Northwest—a weekly suffragist newspaper published out of Portland by Abigail Scott Duniway, a leading voice in the fight for Oregon women's suffrage. Between 2010 and 2012, we did a four part series on this poetry, which oftentimes appeared on the paper's front page, which was frequently written by Willamette Valley writers long before folks like William Stafford put Oregon on the national poetry map, and which was sometimes sourced or cut-and-pasted from other newspapers around the country (a common practice in an age when poets and their publishers didn't seem to care about regulating the circulation of verse via copyright laws). Then, in 2012 and 2013, we collated a set of these poems for use in the development of Brightly Dawning Day: Celebrating the Centennial of Women's Suffrage in Oregon, an original and experimental script produced at Willamette University earlier this year in commemoration of the one hundredth anniversary of Oregon women's suffrage.
Gold Man Review, has joined in the fun, reprinting a portfolio of seven suffragist poems from The New Northwest in its second issue—the one with the snazzy cover pictured above, which puns on the design characteristics of mass market women's magazines to transform the Gold Man pioneer who currently tops the state's capitol building into a Gold Woman pioneer. Themed around the "pioneer spirit," the issue joins the work of nineteenth-century poets with over twenty-five pieces by people writing in Oregon today, and it's also got a long interview with P&PC about The New Northwest, the history of women's suffrage in Oregon, the situation of American poetry in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, and the poems P&PC selected for reprinting in Gold Man with the assistance of students in a "Poetry of the Pacific Northwest" class we taught last Spring.
Mike Chasar: In addition to studying the poems, the most recent instantiation of my "Poetry of the Pacific Northwest" class also partnered with an experimental scriptwriting class in the Theatre Department that wanted to create a play about the history and legacy of women's suffrage in Oregon as one way to mark and commemorate 2012 as the one hundredth anniversary of Oregon women's suffrage. (See Century of Action: Oregon Women Vote 1912-2012 for other such events.) As part of the experimental nature of the script, the Theatre class thought it would be cool to start with a bunch of poems from The New Northwest, using them as raw material to collage, break up, or interlace through the script in funky and innovative ways. It can sometimes be difficult to figure out what to "do" with archival materials other than, well, archive them and study them; so we thought it would be interesting to motivate them in another way, too—toward the creation of a new piece of art.