‘Stars and Strangers,’ a book of poetry by Sue Sutherland-Hanson

Poetry and oral storytelling | Bookends

Authors tell stories in many forms. Some write novels, some write poetry and some, like George Hastings, show their talents as a story teller by presenting their stories vocally.

His next presentation begins at 2 p.m. Feb. 18 at Unity Church in Port Townsend, 3918 San Juan Ave. The event is free but donations are welcome.

This presentation is the second in his series about Michelangelo and his disagreement with Pope Julius II over the Sistine Chapel ceiling. This event is entitled, “The Evolution of Consciousness According to Michelangelo.” The first part of this trilogy was given on Jan. 22, and it was called “The Art of Storytelling According to Michelangelo.” The third presentation is called “The Way Forward According to Michelangelo.” Date for this one is to be announced.

George told me that if he needed a name for the entire trilogy, he would call it “Michelangelo’s Secret Message on the Sistine Chapel Ceiling, or Michelangelo vs. Pope Julius II.”

Are you wondering how he got interested in this topic? He said this: “Interest in this general subject matter goes back to the 1980s. I always loved the music of Richard Wagner but my only experience with opera was a complete disaster. However, years later after having moved to Seattle, I had a chance to see the dress rehearsal for Wagner’s ‘Tannhauser,’ and that got me hooked on operas, particularly those of Wagner.

“Shortly after that, I discovered that Wagner, instead of just silly plots, had very profound, esoteric messages hidden in his operas. Having been familiar with the works of Rudolf Steiner, I managed to put pieces together which I could not do with books, and then I discovered Michelangelo had esoteric secrets in art works, especially the Sistine Chapel ceiling. So I spent all my available time trying to decipher Wagner’s operas and Michelangelo’s art. This expanded into Mozart’s ‘Magic Flute’ opera and Homer’s ‘Odyssey.’ All this has kept me off the streets for almost 30 years.”

As you can tell, George has a great sense of humor and a lovely use of the English language, and that makes his presentations very entertaining and interesting when he shows us this part of history. One more thing I want to share with you about George Hastings: he is available to give presentations, so contact him at ghastings689@gmail.com and arrange a date.

Another form of a writer’s expression is poetry. I met Sue Sutherland-Hanson via Facebook. A friend recommended her book, “Stars and Strangers.” Sue said, “This a collection of poems in which I express my marvel at the mystery of each person’s life and the light I sense in individuals, ranging from those in my family, the community, strangers in the news, and the one in the mirror.”

She told me that some of these poems are older, but when she decided on the theme of this book it took about six months to “write some new ones” and pull it together.

A question I ask all the authors I interview is, “Who are your favorite authors?” Sue’s answer: “For poets, I love Rumi, the Sufi poet of the 13th century. Mary Oliver, Pablo Neruda, and Wendell Berry are among the many others and are modern-day pleasers. I also enjoy the variety of genres of Naomi Shihab Nye. I was pleased as punch to get her endorsement of ‘Stars and Strangers.’ ”

As for books in the hopper, “I have a children’s book that I’m looking to get published called ‘Raeya’s Light,’” Sue said. “I have a collection of essays about trees in sacred texts. I’m very fond of trees and want to pick up that writing project and bring it to completion. I am also working on a young adult fiction of a teen recovering from sexual assault; it will be called ‘Grace Enough.’”

After her travels to Scotland, she said, “I want to claim the ‘bard’ within me.”

I found Sue to be a very interesting person. I found out she has a degree in French literature and lived in France as a college student and when her children were in grade school, her family lived for a couple of years in Japan.

“Nowadays, I take people on pilgrimage to Scotland and Ireland,” she said, “and I have a master’s in Teaching English as a Second Language.”

I asked Sue if there anything was else she’d like me to know. “I teach workshops on writing as a spiritual practice in a variety of settings,” she said. “I also guide a continuing group of poets in a group we call Common House Poetry.” If you want to know more about Sue or her projects, you can contact her at huckleberryhans@embarqmail.com.

Don’t forget to register for the May 6 writing seminar, “Should I Write My Memoirs?” (The answer is yes). There are only eight places left. If you are interested, contact me at welltoldtales@aol.com.

At Eagle Harbor Book Company at 157 Winslow Way E. Bainbridge Island.

Noon Feb. 11: Bainbridge islanders Margaret and Raymond Chang will retell the Chinese folk tale, “The Cricket Warrior.”

3 p.m. Feb. 12: Retired New York ad man and artist Bill Hemp presents his “Bainbridge Island A to Z Sketch Book,” published by the Bainbridge Island Museum of Art.

7 p.m. Feb. 16: Writer, conservationist, sailor and educator Jonathan White will discuss his new book, “Tides: The Science and Spirit of the Ocean.”

At Liberty Bay Books Poulsbo, 18881 Front St., Poulsbo; and 409 Pacific Ave., Bremerton.

6:30 p.m. Feb. 13: Books and Brew Book Club (Poulsbo).

10 a.m. Feb. 14: Day Time Book Club (Poulsbo).

6-8 p.m. Feb. 15: Pints and Pencils at Dog Day Brewery (Bremerton).