Portrait of 

Crysta E. Casey

Oil on canvas

Portrait of 

Crysta E. Casey 


by Mayuko Ichijo

Deborah Woodard is the author of Plato’s Bad Horse (Bear Star Press, 2006). She has translated the poetry of Amelia Rosselli from the Italian: The Dragonfly: A Selection of Poems, 1953-1981 (Chelsea Editions, 2009).  Deborah’s collection, Borrowed Tales, was published by Stockport Flats.  Her The Book of Riddles (Boxcar Press) is in its third printing.  She teaches at The Richard Hugo House.

What they’re saying about Crysta Casey

    “I first met Crysta Casey in a poetry class with Deborah Woodard at Hugo House, and something struck me about her immediately—she was a swayer, and by that, I mean she was one of those people that swayed—almost uncontrollably—and it seemed it wasn’t because of nerves or anxiety or excitement. Swaying was Crysta’s natural state. Since she passed and her collection, Green Cammie, was posthumously published by the great Floating Bridge Press, I’ve learned so much about Crysta that I had been afraid to ask—about her military career, how she became a self-declared “Resident Poet” and her struggles with cancer. I’m still not quite sure about the swaying, but even poets must keep some things private.”

            —Brian McGuigan

    Cofounder/curator of Cheap Wine & Poetry and Cheap Beer & Prose, which happen at Hugo House. Currently at work on a memoir. Former Program Director at Richard Hugo House - Seattle, Washington

    “What I was—and remain—is a fan of her incredibly good writing. I first became aware of Casey at a reading. She was sharing the evening with two other folks, but I don’t remember who they were because, for me, the event was entirely hers. “My god, are those poems really that good?” I remember thinking, and saying to the curator at half-time, “That Crysta Casey is an astonishing poet,” at which point we were introduced. I found Crysta Casey to be direct, intelligent, down to earth and sincere.  I bought her first book Heart Clinic as soon as I could and found the private reading experience as compelling and devastating as hearing her read the work aloud. Her work is the rare and remarkable kind of art  that blasts apart my heart.”

            Rebecca Brown

    First writer in residence at Richard Hugo House, co-founder of the Jack Straw Writers Program. Her novel “The Gifts of the Body” is the winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Faculty advisor in the MFA in Creative Writing Program at Goddard College in Plainfield, Vermont

    “Everyone involved with the Seattle poetry scene knew and appreciated Crysta. Her life and her work were a remarkable combination of guts and grace. We all miss her.”

            Lana Hechtman Ayers

    Lana Hechtman Ayers is a professional manuscript consultant and writing workshop facilitator. She also publishes Concrete Wolf Poetry Chapbook Series, MoonPath Press NW Pacific States Poetry Series and is an editorial consultant at Crab Creek Review

    “I first met Crysta in the early 1990's, before her first collection of poetry, Heart Clinic, was published (1993). She came to the basement of the University branch library to read her poems on open mic at the "It's About Time Writer's Reading Series," which I was emceeing. She read in a loud, scratchy, almost monotonic voice. All the while she rocked. I began rocking too. The audience, the room, the library itself all seemed to be rocking. We were mesmerized. Crysta could do that to people. She would grab you and she was yours for life. That is what Crysta did to people – she grabbed them – and it is what her work does; it grabs.”

        —Esther Altshul Helfgott

    Non-fiction Writer,  Poet, Writing teacher at Richard Hugo House, Classes/Workshops on Writing Works for Memory, Healing & Art's Sake- Seattle, Washington

“For a decade my phone in Brooklyn would ring a few times a month at 4 a.m., and I knew it was Crysta even before hearing her raspy, twinkling voice, rocking in her non-rockable chair wanting to run her latest poem by me. She’d sit up all night rocking back and forth in her supposedly stationary hard-backed chair, staring out, thinking, rhythming, night after night after night. Her phone calls would arrive in the course of this, and I’d ask her what she was doing. “Rocking,” was always her answer. That’s when she was happiest. Smoking cigarettes and rocking.”

        Mitchel Cohen

    New York writer, activist, poet, chair WBAI-FM Local Station Board, Brooklyn Greens, Red Balloon Collective, rabble rouser

Images accompanying audio files, copyright © Kayt Hoch

all others their respective copyright holder.