Poetry, Film & Committee Meetings

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Upon taking office in 1998, I initiated Words’ Worth, the nation’s only poetry program on the agenda for a recurring city council committee meeting. To date, my committee has hosted over 230 poetry readings featuring poets such as Felicia Gonzalez, Madeline DeFrees, Frances McCue, JT Stewart, John Marshall and Kathleen Flennike, the 2012-14 Washington State Poet Laureate.

While the first of my two monthly City Council committee meetings is dedicated to Words’ Worth, my second meeting features film. I call it Film Forum. I started Film Forum and Words’ Worth because I feel it’s important to remind ourselves of the connections between art and other aspects of our everyday lives…such as government. Since Film Forum’s debut in the summer of 2010, Adam Sekuler, program director for the Northwest Film Forum located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill neighborhood, has served as the program’s curator.

Adam’s first selection in 2010 was Seattle animator Webster Crowell’s Last Call. The film utilizes recordings of street sounds generated near bars after closing time as the sound track for these hilarious stop-frame animations. His most recent screening was the Oscar winner Undefeated, by Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin. Set against the backdrop of a high school football season, this Academy Award winning documentary is an intimate chronicle of three underprivileged student-athletes from inner-city Memphis and the volunteer coach trying to help them beat the odds on and off the field.

Shortly after Lindsay and Martin’s Oscar win earlier this year, the press began speculating on whether Martin was the first African American to win an Academy Award for a feature-length documentary. According to the Huffington Post, Martin was quoted responding to this question in the Boston periodical the Bay State Banner: “I would have a hard time claiming such an achievement since I’m half black. My experience navigating the world is night and day different than that of someone whose parents are both black.”

I sponsored a Council proclamation honoring T. J. Martin’s achievement and in his prepared statement to the full Council upon accepting it, he said he shared his win with not only his co-director and producer, but with the City of Seattle.