Woodrat Podcast 13: Christina Pacosz, chronicler of an at-risk society

Christina Pacosz

Topics include the Womanspirit movement; lessons from Gyn/Ecology by Mary Daly; where the title “Notes from the Red Zone” came from; fear of the Other; our place in the natural world; Christina’s childhood education, her stint as a visiting artist in North Carolina community colleges and how she met Steve Sherrill; remembering William Stafford; working with “at-risk youth”; remembering Alton Fred Brown.

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Theme music: “Le grand sequoia, by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence)

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12 Comments


  1. One very important connecton I forgot to make about Notes from the Red Zone being dedicated to Karen Silkwood, both in the Seal Press, 1983 chap and in the ReBound edition from Seven Kitchens is that Karen Silkwood was murdered when her car was run off the road in Oklahoma while she was driving to a meeting with a union rep to turn over her documentation of bad welds at Hanford. THESE ARE SOME OF THE WELDS THAT RESULTED IN LEAKS!!!

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    1. Oh wow. Thanks for pointing that out. I’d forgotten about all that.

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  2. Christina Pacosz’s voice has been a touchstone for me for many years. With Notes from the Red Zone she names the categories of violence which as a culture we do not see because we cannot bear to see and thus do not name. At the time of publication it was outrage and prophecy. Now decades later returning to it again, it is accurate reportage. Thanks for the interview.

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  3. Wonderful conversation. I had the privilege of reviewing Notes from the Red Zone, as well (forthcoming in Pemmican). Good to hear her read aloud. Thanks for an edifying listen.

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  4. What a great interview!! I’m privileged to converse with Christina on occasion. Been a fan of her poetry since reading the first word several years ago, and admire how she voices her strong beliefs.

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  5. All comments are most welcome, but I wanted to respond in particular to Ru Kirk.

    Ru and I had just returned from a long weekend on Waldron Island in Washington state. This was 1982. I had been helping her move back to the Olympic Peninsula. When we pulled up in front of my little rental house and I opened the mailbox, I found an acceptance letter from Seal Press for my chapbook, Notes from the Red Zone. I remember some dancing and hugging on Sheridan Street that day!

    Ru is a poet, too, though she is too modest to mention the fact.

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    1. Thanks for the background, Christina.

      Ah, to live on the Olympic Peninsula! One of the few places I could see myself relocating to.

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  6. The Olympic Peninsula is a very unique place but it too is experiencing the damage to the environment as seen elsewhere.

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  7. A very interesting interview that I just listened to for the 2nd time today. One thread I want to pick up on — community colleges. Here in Kentucky, the community colleges are doing great things to support poetry and fiction, publishing magazines, giving prizes, having readings. In many ways they seem more dynamic in this than do the four-year state universities.

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  8. That’s great news BG!! But those Visiting Artist gigs were full time employment with benefits, retirement, etc. For up to two years at one college, 4 in total. A small amount of each college’s money was left after salaries for the VA to administer as he/she saw fit. Brochures, posters for advertising and travel, of course. Not all were poets/writers, but a goodly number were. The Community Colleges of the U.S. held their annual meeting in DC in 1989, the 25th year of the North Carolina VA program, and we did the entertainment at Kennedy Center, including three poets, one being myself. We collaborated with a composer for an original score to accompany our readings and individual musicians needed to pull it off. As in the way of the world, no community college tried to duplicate the program, and the big event in DC was the beginning of the end for the VA program. The state employee who had pulled it off was pink slipped shortly after. Go figure. But Jesse Helms was alive and nasty and that may have had something to do with the eventual demise for what should have been a program all community college systems would incorporate into their mandate to serve their consituency.

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