Debauched finance

This year I rebooted my magic show exploring the financial collapse of 2008, A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money that Lost its Puff, which is the title piece of my most recent book, performing it in San Francisco, Washington DC, New York, and for this recorded performance, at Powell’s in Portland. I wrote a new ending, exploring how the tentacles of that financial debauchery reaches into the Trump administration via  Gary Cohn and Stephen Mnuchin. (more)

Generosity Flowers in the Street

Marcia Rodrigues Braga crocheted bikinis in the stand next to Carlos, where she also sold hats and bags. I returned to meet Marcia, and she pulled out a long golden needle. This was her method of embroidery, a beautiful method of pushing the needle through the fabric, creating stitches on one side and loops on the other. She insisted I practice, and gifted me with the needle. The golden needle was the first of many gifts. (more)

A Photoessay on Pixacão

Upon our arrival in Rio de Janeiro this August, we quickly noticed poetic language painted throughout the metropolis on walls, doors, benches, and ledges. Everywhere we walked, the city’s surfaces formed pages. We were the interlocutors, passersby, curious readers of our new city. Since we first began researching Landscapes of Dissent: Guerrilla Poetry and Public Space more than a decade ago, we have remained attuned to how poetry claims public spaces, and how we might wander as the inadvertent audience. (more)

Generosidade Floresce Nesta Rua (Generosity Flowers in the Street)

During the fall of 2015, I worked in an artist residency at Largo das Artes in Rio de Janeiro, and I would often stop to talk with Carlos, a man who sold kitchen tools from a streetside stand outside my studio in Rio de Janeiro. One day, while I examined his potato masher, he noticed my embroidered poem stretched over a hoop and sticking out of my bag. He urged me to meet Marcia.
Marcia Rodrigues Braga crocheted bikinis in the stand next to Carlos, where she also sold hats and bags. I returned to meet Marcia, and she pulled out a long golden needle. This was her method of embroidery, a beautiful method of pushing the needle through the fabric, creating stitches on one side and loops on the other. She insisted I practice, and gifted me with the needle.

The golden needle was the first of many gifts.

Often I would see Carlos alone, watching both their stands, and he would suggest that there would be a particular reason for me to return and see Marcia. Indeed, at night, at home, Marcia embroidered me a golden petaled, purple centered flower on yellow cloth. When she presented it to me, she suggested I embroider a poem on it. A poem!

I wrote that poem, embroidering it on a large cloth, pale purple on cream Brazillian cotton. When I presented it to Marcia, people gathered on the street to read it, nodding in appreciation that she was the recipient of an ode.
That was in December, and a few days later, the day I was flying home, I stopped by to say my farewells to Marcia. This time, she had made me a scarf, concerned that I was leaving the summer of Rio for the winter of Oregon. Indeed, the morning was cold when the plane landed in Portland, and the scarf kept me warm.

morning song for where you sleep

near Lan Su Garden

may you wake to a lake
of silk, a pond of lotuses
beyond that wall    may the best
of your dreams stream
into wakefulness, carp
shifting among lotus roots
may night terrors settle low
and release you     may you wake
to an air sheer with mist so the light
gets through to find you
may passersby shed the
skin of disdain while
the sidewalk holds your sleep
and infinity is framed
in the garden     may passersby
greet you or may they peacefully
ignore you, carp shifting
among lotus roots decades young
growing their ancient future
yes    may you be steadied
by lotus roots churning in waters
clear enough    may light
get through to find you


Marcia Embroidered Me the Sun

One November day, I stopped to talk with Carlos, a man who sold kitchen tools from a streetside stand outside my studio in Rio de Janeiro. As I looked at his potato masher, he noticed the embroidered poem, stretched over a hoop and sticking out of my bag. He urged me to meet Marcia.

Marcia Rodrigues Braga crocheted bikinis in the stand next to Carlos, where she also sold hats and bags. I returned to meet Marcia, and she pulled out a long golden needle. This was her method of embroidery, a beautiful method of pushing the needle through the fabric, creating stitches on one side and loops on the other. She insisted I practice, and gifted me with the needle.

The golden needle was the first of many gifts. Often I would see Carlos alone, watching both their stands, and he would suggest that there would be a particular reason for me to return and see Marcia. Indeed, at night, at home, Marcia embroidered me a golden petaled, purple centered flower on yellow cloth. When she presented it to me, she suggested I embroider a poem on it. A poem.

I wrote that poem, embroidering it on a large cloth, pale purple on cream Brazillian cotton. When I presented it to Marcia, people gathered on the street to read it, nodding in appreciation that she was the recipient of an ode.

That was in December, and a few days later, the day I was flying home, I stopped by to say my farewells to Marcia. This time, she had made me a scarf, concerned that I was leaving the summer of Rio for the winter of Oregon. I wore that scarf home.

Odes for Strangers as Friends

Odes to other people are acknowledgements, celebrations, efforts to see each other. I have an ongoing ode that I create through conversations with people, one line for each person that incorporates their line. I started this by inhabiting my exhibit at the Cascade Gallery in January and February of 2015.


Site-Specific Embroidery

interactive_webDuring my exhibition at the PCC Cascade Gallery last winter, I created a poem through having conversations with passersby.

solo & artist-team

The Day is Bright with Burning Fossils,” White Gallery, Portland State University, May 5-May 26, 2017

Moth Flame Desire.” Cascade Gallery. Portland Community College. January-February 2016.

New work from The Watcher Files Project, Portland State University, Portland, OR (1800 SW 6th Avenue, Portland, OR, 97201 – ground floor) Jan. 17-April 9, 2015

Passing it On. Multnomah County Library, North Portland Branch. November-December 2014.

City of Portland Archives and Records Center. October-May, 2014.


“Expanded Readings.” Sheppard Gallery. University Nevada, Reno. February-March 2017.

Moth, Flame, Desire. Largo das Artes, Rio de Janeiro. October & November 2015.

PDX Contemporary Window Project. May 2015.

Beyond the Fury (dropcloth poem). Dusie Poetry Group Exhibit. Brown University Library. Providence, Rhode Island. May 2015.

Air the Fire: A Poem Triptych. Window Project (solo). PDX Contemporary Art. May 2015.

She had her Own Reason for Participating. Handmade/ Homemade” Group Exhibit. Pace University. Mortola Library (Pleasantville campus) March 2015. Birnbaum Library, New York City, April 2015.

Exhibition of Kaia Sand’s poetry notebooks. Glyph Cafe, Portland. Jan.2015.

The Watcher Files Project included in Antena Exhibition, The Blaffer Gallery, curated by Jen Hofer, JP Pluecker, & Amy Powell. Jan. 14-May 10, 2014.

“Beyond the Fury” included in Object Poems, 23 Gallery, Portland, Curated by David Abel, Nov 4-26, 2011.

permanent collections

Air the Fire. City of Portland.

Right 2 Survive Ambassador Program

A diplomatic outreach project of Right2Survive, we create opportunities for housed Portlanders to meet and learn from houseless neighbors. We promote respect and equality through these relationships and highlight the knowledge and experiences of houseless Portlanders. Learn about our programs here.


A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money that Lost its Puff

  • watch the premiere performance of the title work

  • magicans

    Kaia Sand’s work always interests me: her inventories, interventions, recordings, dispatches, her mixing memos into songs, her soundings and measurements and exposés. These are lived poems, necessary and urgent and I learn from them. She is to be honored, read, shared, and given our undivided attention.

    —Carolyn Forché, Author Blue Hour (HarperCollins, 2004) Editor, Against Forgetting: Twentieth-Century Poetry of Witness (W. W. Norton, 1993)

The Day is Bright with Burning Fossils

While in residency at Largo das Artes in Rio de Janeiro, funded by the Regional Arts and Culture Council, I investigated corporeal decay, fire, and power, stemming fro research into global warming and ever-more-extreme means of extracting oil. I drew from a range of influences in Brazil- from the artists Leonilson and Arthur Bispo do Rosário to the popular and public poetry practices of “literatura de cordel” in the northeast of Brazil as well as “pixação”, the poetry painted on the streets of Rio de Janeiro. I wrote about this for the Poetry Project Newsletter.

I exhibited this work at Largo das Artes in October and November 2015, at the Cascade Art Gallery at Portland Community College in January and February 2016, and then Portland State University’s White Gallery in April 2017. I am now expanding the manuscripts to a set of 12.



Life Story Writing


Getting Started: Life Story Writing
One day workshop with Meg Eberle

Sat, May 16, 12:30 to 4:30
TaborSpace  5441 SE Belmont

Do you have a stories tucked in your memory that you have long wanted to put to paper? Stories of friends and family that you want to preserve? This one-day workshop is designed to help you organize your stories and begin writing. We will use prompts and other exercises triggered to unlock your memories and zero in the stories that are most rich and significant to you. Together we will coax your stories to the page and engage your creative process. No writing experience necessary. Tabor Space class room. All levels.  $35.

To register call (503) 281-6499 or email

The Watcher Files Project


Artists Bring Archived Surveillance Records To Light.” Think Out Loud on Oregon Public Broadcasting.

“Poetry and Art from the Archives of Big Brother” by Judith Pulman in Oregon ArtsWatch

The Watchers at the Gate” by Jake Thomas in Street Roots

In 2013, Garrick Imatani and I began a collaborative artist residency with the City of Portland Archives and Records Center, a Percent for Art project commissioned by the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Our collaboration resulted in The Watcher Files Project, an engagement with surveillance documents collected by the Portland Police Bureau on civic and activist groups in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In collaboration with some people surveilled in the files, as well as other artists, we created a series of artistic and poetic interventions as a way to annotate some of what is missing within the institutional record, as well as investigate and transform what is there.

So He Raised His Hand
So He Raised His Hand emerged from conversations with Lloyd Marbet from July to October 2013. The poems tell stories of his dogged activism that helped free Oregon from nuclear power plants, both through the demolition of Trojan nuclear plant and the prevention of additional plants such as the Pebble Springs nuclear plant.

Exhibits & Performances


We have exbibited the Watcher Files Project in a number of settings, including the Blaffer Art Museum at University of Houston as part of the Antena exhibit; UCSanta Barbara, Portland City Archives, the North Portland Branch of Multnomah Public Library, and Portland State University (Laminated1). We have also given a number of talks and performances. (more).

During this segement on OPB’s Think Out Loud that Garrick Imatani and I did , you can hear the clip where Marbet tells the story that leads to his statement, “So He Raised His Hand.”

After reading police surveillance reports on Lloyd’s activism, Garrick Imatani & I traveled to the land Lloyd caretakes north of Estacada, Oregon, to learn some of his stories. I then arranged seven of these stories onto the page, adding verses based on his images and rhythms. Lloyd next edited the text, and I wrote opening & closing poems casting Lloyd as “the Caretaker.” Inge Bruggeman letterpress printed the poem from hand-set metal type and photopolymer plates on a Vandercook proof press. The entire poem is available here.

She Had Her Own Reason for Participating
As I culled through files, I noticed that a number of the surveilled groups were fighting for the rights of women. If the editorial logic of these investigators was one of fear—a sense that people posed a danger, meriting surveillance—then what did they fear about women and people organizing for the rights of women? I began to gather sentences in the files that began with “She.” The language comes from the files on the Alliance for Social Change, American Indian Movement, Coalition Against Domestic Violence, Friends of the Sisters of the Streets, George Jackson Brigade, Mom’s Garage, National Organization for Women, Patriot Party, Rape Relief Hotline, Trojan, Tudeh Party, Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom, Women’s Action for Nuclear Disarmament, Women of All Red Nations, Women Strike for Peace, Women’s Night Watch, and Women’s Rights Coalition. This poem forms a small populace of women—women who organized dissent; women who labored; women who suffered violence and imprisonment; women engaged in struggles during my girlhood years when I learned to be proud of a legacy of feminism, unaware of just how threatening those with power found feminism.


Various iterations of She Had Her Own Reason for Participating has appeared in various print publications, including Tripwire, Everyday Genius, and Toward. Some. Air. Daniela Molnar recast “She Had Her Own Reason for Participating” with this sign project.

In the first iteration of the poem, I sledgehammered copper index cards, a poetic alternative to the meticulous index cards the police investigators kept on activists, the cards comprise a drawer of copper cards Garrick Imatani built into a plinth. Many of these same struggles continue, and it was with this in mind that Daniela Molnar and I walked the route of that original Flashlight March, and she created the signs to shift this language into a contemporary space. Molnar and I collaborated on an accordion-fold book sandwiched between copper covers.

The Bright Threat of Attention
Imatani & I posed a question to each other: “where is anonymity within a public document.” My response was to embroidered cursive lines of poetry, black thread on black cloth, like an underexposed print. We then recast the poem, my handwriting laser cut into the panels of a cabinet Imatani built to be read like a book, with drawers of artwork.

hammer a poem

She Had Her Own Reasons

I am constructing “She Had Her Own Reason” out of hundreds of sentences I encounter in the Watcher Files that begin with the word she. Eventually, this will comprise a drawer of copper cards, a poetic alternative to the meticulous index cards the police investigators kept on activists.

The following is the excerpt of She Had Her Own Reasons that I read on OPB’s Think Out Loud Thursday, Oct 24.


She had her own reason for participating

She also went to night school

She always gets kidded about being a female mechanic at the auto parts shop

She emerged as a major figure in the feminist movement

She is believed to be a Lesbian

She knows of no New York political figures to whom she would have been writing at the age of 17

She couldn’t imagine sitting behind a desk all day

She is still learning

She nurtures her children by trying to save the world from nuclear extinction

She pleaded guilty to the charge strictly on the advice of her court-appointed attorney

She says, I think I was socialized into a more traditional job

She suffered a concussion

She thought it was just a friendly visit

She thought she had something better

She used to be resorts editor for Golf Digest Magazine

She was a co-founder of Portland Women Strike for Peace

She was always hunched over the machine

She was beaten regularly for at least four years

She was disappointed by the fact she helped them form their structure, and then they wouldn’t allow her to become a member

She was feeling so damned tired

She became shop chairman of her union

She was one of 13 women who fasted 37 days on behalf of the ERA

She worked as a writer

She works as a bartender

She would never be convinced

She’s had a few humorous incidents

She’s only as rich as the poorest of the poor

She’s studying art history, painting, self defense, and Aikido


-Kaia Sand

source: Police Investigative Files, City of Portland Archives


Teaching link:

poetry & art in a warming planet

The photography of Camille Seaman:
reviewed by Tina Gearhardt

“Crisis Poem #1” by Teresia Teaiwa

some suggestions

• find a project for yourself. A methodology. Rituals help.

• forms help

• stay with something, open to surprises.

• writing is often listening.

• connective thinking can lead to compelling writing.

• conscientious inexpert voices matter.

• research matters for all kinds of projects


The Oregon Historical Society has a treasure-trove of online resources, including its Oregon History Project and its online collections archive.

Visit the research library (here are the hours)

as well as the Oregon Encyclopedia.

Architectural Heritage Center

The Dill Pickle Club publishes pamphlets on Portland history. The Dill Pickle Club will also host a number of tours this fall.

A library card with the Multnomah County Library entitles you access to a number of excellent databases.

The City of Portland Archives includes city records going back to 1851.

The author of the “Vintage Portland” blog posts photos.

Vignettes & Verses: Write Your Memories Traveling in Ireland

Come explore an ancient landscape peopled with stories to connect with your own stories. Travel to Cork City and Deep Ireland to coax your own stories, your own memories, onto the page. This eight-day traveling workshop will involve class sessions, independent writing time, and opportunities to immerse yourself in local culture. Explore evocative places—ruins, villages, a mine, a labyrinth—to excavate our own memories in the form of poetry or nonfiction prose.

Historic Cork, center of Irish emigration in the 1900s, is our anchor for the first half of the workshop. In the mornings, write and study within the Tudor Gothic quad of the University College Cork. Afternoons explore the English Market, old Cork City, and neighboring villages such as Kinsale and Cobh, and sample the many midsummer festivities.

For the second half of our course, move to the scenic Beara peninsula. Visit Glengarriff, where William Butler Yeats and George Bernard Shaw retreated for inspiration; colorful bayside villages; and the remote mining village of Allihies on the southwest tip of Ireland.

Please note: We just completed Vignettes & Verses 2014!  See our facebook page for some photos from our adventures. We plan to run another workshop in 2016, so should you wish to join our email list for future classes, please email Kaia Sand at sand (at) kaiasand (dot) net

About the instructors:
Meg Eberle and Kaia Sand are a mother and daughter team who collectively offer many writing and teaching experiences, and the perspective of approaching memory writing from two generations. They have a strong bond to Ireland and it is through their many travels to Ireland that they have shaped this course.

Meg Eberle is a journalist who specializes in biographical writing and teaches memoir writing at the Multnomah Arts Center. A former reporter with the Portland Oregonian, St. Paul Pioneer Press and the Albany Democrat-Herald, newspapers, she has written and edited several personal histories. She recently collaborated with her mother on Good Timber, a memoir of her mother’s childhood. As a reporter and feature writer, Eberle interviewed and profiled hundreds of people. She specialized in researching personal and historical details to round out the profiles. Eberle is dedicated to documenting stories of person and place for future generations.
Kaia Sand is a poet and essay writer with more than a decade of university teaching experience. She team-taught with Michael Glaser the Poetry England traveling writing course in Oxford and Grasmere, England, in 2005, 2007, and 2009. She is the author of three books—Remember to Wave, which investigates political history in Portland Oregon through poems and an essay; the poetry collection, interval, awarded Small Press Traffic Book of the Year; and, with Jules Boykoff, Landscapes of Dissent. Currently Artist in Residence at the Portland City Archives and a member of PEN American Center, Kaia Sand is resident poet in the Honors Program at Portland State University.






she would call from her office, “would you like to hear a poem?”

This the preface I wrote for A celebration of Lucille Clifton, edited by Michael Glaser

Kaia Sand

It was the beginning of September. The stars had aligned enough for me to secure a teaching job in a little city on the St. Mary’s River, which cut through a peninsula formed by the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. I barely arrived because my car barely drove, but it drove far enough to land five miles from the college, and a kind auto mechanic named Willy shuttled me the rest of the way. I arrived full of hope, political concern, and enthusiasm for avant-garde poetics, and I was soon to discover a place where all poetry was welcome, where one might retreat on a walk to think and write, but always one was responsible to come back to all the others, and with deep care. I taught at St. Mary’s College of Maryland for three years, but those first few weeks nine years ago were rich with all to come.

I was assigned an office the size of a closet, and necessarily kept the door open for air. Imagine my luck: Lucille Clifton’s office was diagonal from mine, and she, too, kept her door open while playing hours of solitaire. That image is strong for me now: Lucille, taking time for herself, but with her door open to all the others.

Those early weeks of September in 2001 tested my green aspirations in the classroom as I faced rooms of students who were grappling with the mass murders inflicted by airplanes-turned-into-missiles. How were we all to act in this emotional and uncertain place?

Lucille wrote poems through the emotions and uncertainty. During those weeks, she would call from her office, “would you like to hear a poem?” Would I, indeed. I enthusiastically lent my ear to what would become “september song/ a poem in seven days.”

I return to that cycle of poems now, and think of courage rooted in the Latin word for heart. The heart is lodged in its most private cavern, yet figuratively it is what compels us to act for others. Lucille grounded herself, but this bolstered her to write poems that were socially concerned. She did not turn away.

The birth of her granddaughter inspired her to think about society, new generations: “so many ones to hate and i/ cursed with long memory/ cursed with the desire to understand/ have never been good at hating/ now this granddaughter/ born into a violent world, as if nothing has happened.” Lucille’s poems pulsed with social concern. Even when she attempted to write about “grass and how the blue/ in the sky can flow green or red/ and the waters lean against the/ chesapeake shore” she always discovered “an other poem” to write. When she looked at the white caps on the St. Mary’s River, she saw elders— “Jeremiah Fanny Lou Geronimo.”

That Lucille would write a poem each day during those difficult September days demonstrated how central poetry was on those St. Mary’s College grounds. And this was in no small part due to Michael Glaser, whose office was around the corner, bustling with activity, students coming and going, Michael writing morning poems. Poetry was like the daily news around those halls, a way to think through difficult times, and joyful ones.

If a poetry community was to be robust, I learned from Michael, one’s efforts could not be slack. Participation had to be cultivated. Organizing an event took care, took form, like a poem. I recall how, after the readings, students and community members would linger for the reception, excited to discuss the reading with the poet and with each other. Some of the poets were famous, many represented in the pages of this anthology, and others were not, some whose first audience was the crowd assembled for the Women and Poetry reading Michael and Lucille supported annually.

People pitched in because poetry was honored. It was for everyone. I recall one local supporter, Carter Douglass, who would arrive with a fresh floral arrangement for the poet’s podium. Students packed poetry events, some buying poetry books with money Michael pulled from his billfold full of IOU notes from past students. He and Lucille escorted poets to Courtney’s restaurant, where Tom Courtney would pull up in his boat with the day’s catch, and his wife, Julie, would cook the catch for the evening guests.

Poetry had such a robust presence, I felt like the ghosts of poets past were among us. There is one classroom in Montgomery Hall where, every time I mentioned Allen Ginsberg’s name, a window would rattle or thunder boom.

Nine years later and a continent away from that St. Mary’s River, I write as one of many witnesses: St. Mary’s College was a place to feel cared for in the world of poetry among poets who cared for the world. Lucille Clifton insisted on caring, defiantly, with conscience: “they ask me to remember/ but they want me to remember/ their memories/and I keep on remembering/ mine.”

Even now as I write, I am renewed with the memory of how one might be attuned to poetry’s strange and necessary logic, its odd and stirring music, listening, keeping the office door open, calling out a September song for the new difficult days.


Remember to Wave

the walk translated into a book...

Remember to Wave
One iteration of Remember to Wave is the poetry book published by Tinfish Press (2010).

Remember to Wave is an inexpert investigation, a pedestrian inquiry. I mapped & remapped a walk near the Expo Center in North Portland as both composition and participatory performance, leading walks of up to 40 people between 2008 and 2010. I was interested in reading this space through this exercise & sustained attention, research & conversation, opening up inquiry. What I immediately noticed became a part of the work, from the Expo Center trade shows to the Roller Derby matches that drew me to the space in the first place.

But the project was also about being attuned to aspects of the geography more difficult to read, what I came to call the the elsewhere & erstwhile, emphasizing the connective thinking of poetry. Reading that space for the erstwhile meant reading it for the history of incarceration of Japanese Americans that happened in World War II. In May 1942 over 3000 people were imprisoned in the Expo Center, what was called the Portland Assembly Center, living in spaces built over animal stalls in this building.

And an erstwhile reading of the space also coaxes up the history of Vanport City, which was built in the floodplain land surrounding the Expo Center when people were imprisoned there, and which housed over 40,000 people who built the ships to fight the war.


Poet Walks Back into History” by B.T. Shaw, Oregonian

Poet Kaia Sand helps keep Portland’s troubled history from fading into invisibility” by Carmel Bentley, Street Roots

Poet Kaia Sand brings history to the present through explorations of space” by Lucy Burningham, Oregon Humanities”

Remember to Wave
This community arts project emerged from Remember to Wave.

And after the war, Vanport housed people who returned from that war–GIs, but also, significantly, some of the people who were first imprisoned in the Portland Assembly Center and then imprisoned inland, and upon release, ended up living in that same area where they were forcibly held, but that land continued to prove repellent, because the city was destroyed in 1948 by a flood.

In this project, context becomes textual, creating constraints and possibilities. Existing signs, such as ones that announce the toxicity of the slough water, become a part of the poetry. Traffic drowns out conversation on a stretch of the walk along Marine Drive, so this led me bring the book back into that space, laying down haiku written in the Tule Lake internment camp, one of the internment camps people were sent from the Portland Assembly Center. Portable Demand Storage Units create situational rhymes.

They are monuments to possessions in a context where Japanese Americans were ordered to only bring what possessions they could carry, and they were stripped of that possibility of storage. And, in a context where people were forced off the land by flooding, the fact that PODS have been turned into makeshift disaster shelters creates another situational rhyme.

Participation mattered in many ways, from the conversations I had with people as we walked to a the more structured participation of the mud slough ode. At the beginning of the walk I distribute a pamphlet with a section for walkers to write down observations (this is now part of the book by Tinfish Press. This culminated in the Mud Slough Ode, on an outcropping of a rock amphitheater along the mud slough off the Columbia River. I choreograph this impromptu poem by gesturing to people to say words and phrases.

YouTube VideoYouTube Video
Remember to Wave walk footage from
September 30, 2008, April 17, 2010, and May 10, 2010
Excerpt from artist lecture.
PSU MFA Monday Night Lecture Series. May 2, 2011

Happy Valley Project

YouTube Video
A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money that Lost its Puff. Performed December 1, 2011.


A New Ending for the Trump Administration. Performed at Powell’s on Hawthorne, Portland, Feb 2017

Some of us take up so much space for our shelter. Some, so little. We dwell in a landscape of foreclosed houses, those shells of shelter, and also, shelter-less people.

My investigation zeroed on the financial speculation that puffed around the housing foreclosures. Its complexity and obscurity are its power. Thus, I doggedly read, focusing less on the over-aspiring homeowner or even the real estate flipper, and more on the leveraging that was so extreme, it could collapse the economy.

Seems like a good subject for poetry. I am interested in a poetic practice that insists on inexpert inquiry, gathering ideas and ways of knowing to open a space for more collaborative inquiry. While I read, I embroidered a poem, line by line, on an 8-foot-dropcloth. I also wrote a magic show, A Tale of Money that Lost its Puff, in collaboration with magician and whistler Mitch Hider, and Jules Boykoff.

During autumn 2010, I held two Econ Salon. The first, in a studio in the Goldsmith Building in Portland’s Old Town, featured poetry readings by Jules Boykoff, Allison Cobb, and me; music by Cynthia Nelson, an economics talk by Robin Hahnel.

I hosted the second and larger Econ Salon in the Field Work art space in SW Portland. This Econ Salon featured A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money that Lost its Puff; as well as the video installation collaboration between Jen Coleman, Andrea Murray, Kristen Sheeran and me titled It’s a Wonderful Time to Buy; a talk by Ibrahim Mubarak on organizing houseless and formerly houseless people through Right2Survive; and a talk by Angela Martin on organizing people around debt. Art Installations included a Dollhouse Squat created by Right2Survive; Matta-Clark Park Series by David Buuck, and “Sheltered” by Jennifer Hardacker. I created several poetry objects, including the dropcloth poem, “Beware the Fury of the Financier,” and a small poem-structure, “A Shelter for Some Poems.”

Some aspects of the Happy Valley Project exceeded the Econ Salons. I routinely set out a sandwich poem in Old Town, pen hanging, and passersby added lines. I also created a chapbook, the roof of locked shields, as well as a broadside of the dropcloth poem, for the dusie kollektiv and a newspaper article for Street Roots on the class-action lawsuits against the Bear Stearns/JP Morgan Chase.

YouTube VideoYouTube Video
Introduction to Happy Valley Project.
PSU MFA Monday Night Lecture Series. May 2, 2011
Description of sandwich board poem.
PSU MFA Monday Night Lecture Series. May 2, 2011

Econ Salons

Econ Salons were a part of the Happy Valley Project

Econ Salons

During the fall of 2008–when the heft of the financial, and thus, economic crisis sank in–I wanted to better understand what was going on, and I wondered if cultural forms might contribute to this understanding. So I launched the first econ salon with Alicia Cohen at the Clinton Corner Café, interested in how the conventional poetic reading venue of the candle-lit bistro might reframe economics lectures & q&as, which were, in this case, led by economists Kristen Sheeran & Robin Hahnel. Later that fall, I hosted a subsequent econ salons at an Alliance for Democracy meeting. I also wanted to see how poems and other cultural projects might add to the conversation, so Jules read his poem “Das Greenspan” at this and several subsequent Econ Salons.

PSU MFA Monday Night Lecture Series. Portland State
University May 2nd, 2011.
Kaia Sand discusses The Happy Valley
Project PSU MFA Monday Night Lecture Series.

The NAFTA Project

Language is social; we make it together. I’m interested in how I might recast language from one social context to another. From a dystopic document to a lyric poem.

Limited to the text from the North American Free Trade Agreement, the NAFTA project is ongoing. In July, 2008, I collaborated with Kristin Prevallet to make paper from bits of the NAFTA. We worked in Sr. Jeanne Deuber’s studio at the Loretto Motherhouse in Kentucky, with assistance from our daughters, Sophie Prevallet and Jessi Wahnetah. I also began my collage of the NAFTA document into a lyric poem in Kentucky that summer, working a commission by the Kootenay School of Writing for the 2008 Positions Colloquium in Vancouver, British Columbia.

tiny arctic ice

Tiny Arctic Ice recast as e-waste

Tiny arctic ice is an experiment in recasting. Rather than drafting this poem toward a final draft, I write as an act of recasting, again and again, to slow down my attention and consider how context itself might matter to the poem.

I wrote the first version of the poem in 2007 when I built a book out of a teabag for the Dusie Kollektiv (at that time, the world’s population was 6.6 billion; I update this number as I recast the poem). I recast it through performance in 2009 at Caberet Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland, curated by Susana Gardener, when Swiss poet Katherin Schaeppi helped me translate lines into Swiss and jot them onto paper airplanes. Jessi Wahnetah and Stella Gockenbach launched the planes into audience, who then read the lines aloud.

Guest Commentary for Ooligan Press

“As a daunted human creature of this world, I write down its details. The final sum is elusive, is abundant, spills over the form. [more]”

In a similar action, I wrapped lines around flowers from the adjacent farmer’s market, and handed these to audience members who then read lines, when I performed at St. Johns Bookseller’s Market Day series in 2009. Other recast versions have appeared as a broadside created by Mel Nichols for the Ruthless Grip series, in the journal Capitalism, Nature Socialism, and in the Pacific Poetry Project anthology. Jim Dine recast the text for one of his books in his Hot Dreams series.

By staying with this poem and accruing details about contemporary conditions, from global warming to labor to global trade, I hope to learn something. Meaning through accretion.

publication history
teabag poem created for Dusie Kollektiv
2008 Jacket Magazine
2009 paper airplane performance at Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich for DA du DA sie
2009 flower giveaway performance at Market Day Poetry Series, St. Johns Book Store, Portland, Oregon
2010 Capitalism, Nature, Socialism
2012 Financial Times newspaper accordion performance, Hi Zero poetry reading in Brighton, UK
2013 E-Waste performance at Ecopoetics Conferences at Berkeley
2013 Alive at the Center: Contemporary Poems from the Pacific Northwest (anthology by Ooligan Press)
2016 A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money that Lost its Puff (poetry collection, Tinfish Press 2016)

Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center

a conversation through poems

Read the story of how Leo Rhodes and Lawson Inada connected through this project in this Street Roots article.

I collaborated with Lynn Grannan on a project leading discussions and writing projects about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. Through a collaboration between Oregon Nikkei Endowment, Sisters of the Road, Street Roots, and Transition Projects, Inc, we worked with students, as well as poets who are homeless, and who voiced connections to the themes of displacement, marginalization and discrimination. Because most of the participants had not experienced the persecution of internment first-hand, we grappled with the question Ariel Dorfmann raises in his poem, “Vocabulary”:

But how can I tell their story if I was not there?

During our writing workshops, Lynn Grannan discussed Nikkei history, including World War II incarceration. I led the students in reflective writing. Sometimes poems emerged in the workshop, such as Leo Rhodes’ poem in conversation with Lawson’s Inada’s “Remembering Gila.”

Read the full poem

Click the image in the upper left to expand the poem

A major strategy I used was to form group poems through repetition. Fourth grade students from Riverdale Elementary wrote various statements to the prompts “I now know” and “I hope.” I then collaged these lines into a long poem. Students from Forest Grove Community School, Japanese American Citizens League Unite People youth group and Pacific University wrote poems as well. Some of the students wrote about their ancestors’ experiences of World War II incarceration.

We turned the poems from all the participants into banners designed by Malia Acohido. The banners were displayed on the Portland waterfront during the rededication of the Japanese American Historical Plaza during the summer of 2011. The banners now hang inside the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center.

Remember to Wave - Book



  • Reviews

    First Book Blow Out Publishers Weekly

    Review by Dan Pinkerton, Smartish Pace

  • Interval Book
  • “Sand is a necessary poet, and bracingly new.”–Carolyn Forché

    “This work is a love of possibility and the humanity that goes there, with the collectively-driven conviction “it is now we must begin / to gather.”–Heather Fuller

    “Whether readers approach this book for its vibrant language, its formal variety, or its political content, they will come away admiring interval for the wit and care that shaped each phrase.” — Dan Pinkerton, “Smartish Pace”

Landscapes of Dissent

  • Landscapes of Dissent book
  • “Reading this book I found myself feeling an unknown political emotion that prompts my passive reader to become a reader ready to engage (again) the streets–energized by this discussion in which writing is hope & hope is action. Make it public!” –Heriberto Yepez

    “In an age in which alienation is among our most prevalent health hazards, Landscapes of Dissent demonstrates that poetry may be newly, again, good for you. This book is a gift. Take the power.” —Carol Mirakove

    “Landscapes of Dissent is expansive & sharp–an important book of political-aesthetic scholarship.”–Jeff Derksen

dusie kollektiv chapbooks

These handmade dusie kollektiv chapbooks are all downloadable as pdfs
(click on the cover images to arrive at the correct dusie issue)




”  The PSU Vanguard published this about my Urban Humanities class.screen-shot-2017-01-04-at-9-02-16-pm

I relish how teaching demands both my careful design and my flexibility. I have taught university poetry and writing courses since 1999 at George Mason University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Willamette University, Pacific University, and Portland State University, where I was the resident poet in the Honors College.  I have also directed writing centers at St. Mary’s College and Willamette. I team-taught with Michael Glaser a poetry course based in Oxford and Grasmere, England, for three summer terms—2005, 2007, and 2009. I have arranged numerous guest speakers and creative excursions, from touring a homeless encampment to walking neighborhoods in order to read their political histories.

My courses include

Visiting Writer & Artist workshops

I have visited many universities, including Georgetown University Lannan Center for Poetics & Social Practice, University of Alabama MFA in Creative Writing and Book Arts, Cal Arts, and the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston.


Michael McFadden describes my workshop at Blaffer Art Gallery here

• Poetry in the Archives
• Poetry & Politics
• Ecopoetry
• Poetry & the Avant Garde
• The Open Notebook (an experimental writing and art course)
• Activism and the Archives
• Never-Built Portland

Meg Eberle and I founded Vignettes & Verses in 2014, a writing and personal history institute. We offer community courses in memoir writing, journaling and interviewing, as well as poetry practices. We will lead a writing workshop with  in County Cork, Ireland this June 2017. We previously brought groups in 2014 and 2016.

Some of my projects combine aspects of my teaching with my poetic practice, whether through audience participation in Remember to Wave and my econ salons, or more explicitly, the writing workshops that comprised the Oregon Nikkei Legacy Project.





A celebration of Lucille Clifton

IMG_2927It was the beginning of September. The stars had aligned enough for me to secure a teaching job in a little city on the St. Mary’s River,  …  [more]”

Poem Objects




Kaia Sand is the author of three books of poetry: interval, Remember to Wave, and A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money that Lost its Puff.

poems in print

print magazines such as McSweeney’s Quarterly Concern, Submit Literary Magazine, Damn the Caesars, Peaches & Bats, Primary Writing, Westwind, Eyes Monthly, Lipstick 11, The Poker, Cypress Magazine, and Hat, Pom2, Ecopoetics, Lungfull! Magazine, Antenna, Bivouac, Kenning, Phoebe, DC Poets Against the War, Washington Review, and West 47.

Anthologies include Kindergarde: Avant-Garde Poems, Plays, & Stories for Children, (Black Radish Press, ed Dana Teen Lomax, forthcoming), The McSweeney’s Book of Poets Picking Poets, (ed. Dominic Luxford, 2007) , These Pages are Marked by Women, Anthology of the Contemporary Experimental Women’s Poetry Festival), 100 Days (Ed. Andrea Brady and Keston Sutherland, Barque Press).

poems online

afire with purpose” The Poetry Project

air the fire.” Unlikely Stories.

Excerpt from Progeny, Sort of Like Santa Monica, wedding lyric, the amphitheater, Self Portrait in the Reflection of a Watch Face, obsolescence, feedback, appellation, forecast, and prologue, all archived in DC Poetry.

Beggining With Lines By Allen Ginsberg.” Summer Stock

at least four gallons per second,” a poem-ledger of oil contamination from the Deep Water horizon explosion, Poets for Living Waters.

Remember to Wave” poetry map, Wheelhouse Magazine (downloadable as pdf), Evergreen State College

Letter to Layla Al-Attar.”  Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice.

letter to Layla al-Attar.” Dusie Magazine, Issue 1.
excerpts from “progeny” ixnay no. 6 and “not only everything alive” in ixnay reader no. 2 (downloadable as pdfs) (ed. Jenn & Chris McCreary)

lotto. Tool: A Magazine

She had her own reason for participating.” (excerpt). Everyday Genius

“There are these old fires.” Academy of American Poets ( This poem was commissioned by the Academy of American Poets and funded by a National Endowment for the Arts Imagine Your Parks grant.)

tiny arctic iceCapitalism, Nature, Socialism

poetry readings

Various venues & series in New York (Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, Bowery Poetry Club,
Segue Series, Double Happiness); Cabaret Voltaire, dadadusie series (Zurich, Switzerland);
Contemporary Experimental Cambridge Poetry Festival (Univ. of Cambridge, England); Largo das
Artes (Rio de Janeiro); Bangor University (Bangor, Wales); High Zero Reading Series (Brighton,
England); Small Press Traffic, California College of Art; University of Alabama; Washington State
University; Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston; Cal State San Marcos; The Univ. of Hawaii
Graduate Program in English MIA series; Pacific University; Evergreen State College; Southern
Oregon University; Cascadia Poetry Festival, Seattle University; Various series in Washington DC
(Black Squirrel; Bridge Street Books, In Your Ear, Ruthless Grip, George Washington University);
Various series & venues in Philadelphia (Wooden Shoe Books; Kelly Writers House at University of
Pennsylvania); Various venues in Vancouver, British Columbia (People’s Book Coop, Kootenay
School of Writing); Various venues & series in Portland (Powell’s on Hawthorne; Spare Room, Glyph
Cafe Featured Poet, Pure Surface, Cascadia Elizabeth Leach Gallery, Creative Mornings at PNCA;
Figures of Speech Reading Series; If Not For Kidnap; St. Johns Booksellers; The New Structure
Project Cityscope



Song from a Beached Music Box (for Jessi)” from Kindergarde (Black Radish 2013)

Autograph Page” from Remember to Wave. Recorded by Adam Aitken at the Susan M. Schultz 10-10-10 Birthday Celebration, Honolulu, Hawaii, 10 October 2010

Uptick” from Remember to Wave. Poetry Project. NY, NY. December 9, 2009

the president probably talks.” Recorded as part of Wave Books “State of the Union” blog, 2008.

‘Best Regards,” ” ‘Lotto,” “introduction to ‘Family Album of Earthen Estrangement,” “Family Album of Earthen Estrangement” and “The President Probably Talks.” Contemporary Women’s Experimental Poetry Festival, organized by Emily Critchley. Cambridge, UK 6-8 October 2006

“Cognitive Dissonance” from interval  (1:31:50 – 1:37:40); “Prologue” from interval (1:37:44 – 1:39:12); “suppose the future” from interval (1:39:13 – 1:39:49) The Social Mark Poetry Reading, Philadelphia, 28 February 2003.

feedback,” “appellation,”Letter to Layla Al-Attar,” “forecast,” “obsolescence” all from from interval (Edge Books 2004). Philly Sound: New Poetry Weekend. Philadelphia. 9 August 2003.


Air the Fire. Á Reading Series. Valentines, June 1, 2015.

So He Raised His Hand. (excerpt). Tuscaloosa, Alabama. May 2014.

She Had Her Own Reason to Participate. The Switch Reading Series. The Hazel Room. August 9, 2013

Beware the Fury of the Financier,” via Human Microphone. Portland waterfront rally for Shut Down the Banks as an extension of Occupy Portland,  17 November 2011

Gates Close at Dusk” from Remember to Wave. Nye Beach Writers Series, Newport, Oregon. 19 September 2009

DA du DA sie reading at the historic Cabaret Voltaire, curated by Susana Gardner in Zürich, Switzerland, with Jules Boykoff, Maria Damon, Kathrin Schaeppi, Susana Gardner. 30 June 2009

Contemporary Women’s Experimental Poetry Festival, organized by Emily Critchley introduction by Susana Gardner; “Best Regards,” selections from “Lotto”as well as  “Family Album of Earthen Estrangement” and “The President Probably Talks” Cambridge, UK. 6-8 October 2006

There are These Old Fires. (filmmaking by Hannah Piper Burns). Creative Mornings. PNCA, Portland, Ore. 27 January 2017


talks & essays


A Small Encyclopedia of Life, Death & Other
Investigations (with Allison Cobb)
.” in Tracking/Teaching curated by Joseph Harrington. Essay Press

As a Daunted Human Creature of This World, I Write Down Its Details.” Guest Commentary for Ooligan Press. March 28, 2013.

“Affording Entrance.” forthcoming as a book chapter in Placing Poetry. Ed Ian Davidson & Zoë Skoulding. Rodopi 2013.

Moxie Politik commentaries , exploring my ideas about inexpert investigation, creative activism, recasting poems, and accessibility as “affording entrance.” Jacket 2. 2011.

Pacific Poets Imagine the Future. Jacket 2. Fall 2010.

poem/nonpoemNonsite Collective.

public talks on landscapes of dissent

I have given many talks related to the Landscapes of Dissent book, many collaboratively with Jules Boykoff, addressing guerrilla poetry and public space, reading signs through a poetic frame, and activism and poetry.

One of these talks was recorded:
Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania. February 26, 2010.
(58:10); video (63:23, with several minute of unedited footage before talk begins)

other venues include
Evergreen State College, Olympia, Wash, 2010.
Kootenay School of Writing, Vancouver, BC, 2010.
Whitman College, Walla, Walla, Wash, 2007
Association of American Geographers Conference, 2005
Chain re:Action: Activism and Poetry, Temple University, Philadelphia Oct. 28, 2004
as well as class visits on this topic (Skidmore College, Evergreen State College, Whitman College)

public talks on the Watcher Files Project

Artist talks on the Watcher Files with Garrick Imatani at Open Engagment (May 2013); City of Portland Archives and Records Center (October 2013); Project CityScope (April 21, 2014).

“Seven notes on the Occupy Movements,” Poetry and Revolution Conference at Birkbeck, University of London, 2012

Artist talk (with Jules Boykoff). Portland State University MFA Monday Night Lecture Series, May 3, 2011.(Video)

“A Poem’s Populace,” Placing Poetry Colloquium, Bangor University, Wales, 2009

“Walking a Talk: Poetry as Landed Language,” The Advancing Feminist Poetics and Activism Gathering, hosted by Belladonna Collective & CUNY, New York City, 2009

other public talks

“Ecopoetry,” Sustainability Project at Clackamas Community College, 2009

“Poem/NonPoem,” A talk on poetry & public space for the Nonsite Collective, 2009

“Quick Change Artistry: Social Networks and Small Press Culture Work,” Popular Culture Association/AmericanCulture Association PCA/ACA Conference, San Diego, 2005


Interview with BT Shaw about Remember to Wave

“Kaia Sand on Stitching, Economics, Mentors, Fire, Mattering” with Jill Magi

Discussion of Landscapes of Dissent, investigative poetry, Remember to Wave project. (audio)

Discussion of poetry & politics. Includes a reading of “flaneur with a conscience” from Remember to Wave.. City of Newport library. Newport, Oregon. 14 September 14 2009 (audio)

Conversation about poetics with Leonard Schwartz on Cross Culture Poetics, Episode #132. Evergreen State College. March 4, 2007. (44:56) (audio)

Here Comes Everybody, 2005

The Language Garden Tile Mural

Beginning in 2010, I helped Teresa Tamiyasu and hundreds of children at Grout Elementary construct a Language Garden tile mural, celebrating the languages spoken at home by Grout students— English, Spanish, Maay-Maay, Karen, Vietnamese, Russian, Somali, Cambodian, Nepali, Swahili, Burmese, Albanian, Oromo, Amharic, Cantonese, Japanese, Lao, Telugu, Thai, French, and Malayalam. The mural also includes lines of poetry written by Lisa Van Clock’s second and third grade students in 2010. We documented the project on this blog.

Teresa Tamiyasu shows the Tile Mural. Photo by David Ashton



A poet, artist and teacher based in Portland, Oregon, Kaia Sand is the author of four books—A Tale of Magicians Who Puffed Up Money that Lost its Puff (Tinfish Press 2016); Remember to Wave (Tinfish Press 2010); interval (Edge Books 2004), named Small Press Traffic Book of the Year; and co-author with Jules Boykoff of Landscapes of Dissent (Palm Press 2008). Her text comprises two books in Jim Dine’s Hot Dream series (Steidl Editions 2008).

Sand works across genres and media, dislodging poetry from the book into more unconventional contexts, including the Remember to Wave poetry walks and the Happy Valley Project, an investigation of housing foreclosures and financial speculation that included the magic show that serves as the title piece of her most recent book. She received grants from the Regional Arts and Culture Council for these projects.

Born in Fairbanks, Alaska, in 1972, Sand grew up in Salem, Oregon. Her parents were journalists and exposure to their vocations—the interviews, the investigations, the urgency of language crawling over a newswire—marks her poetry. Sand earned her bachelor’s degree from the University of Portland. While living in Portland in the 90s, she began a zine called the Tangent with Jules Boykoff, Neal Sand, and Max Boykoff; the zine evolved into a radio show, reading series, and small press.

She moved to Washington DC in 1998, where she earned an MFA in poetry at George Mason University (2001), worked as Carolyn Forché’s assistant, and became active in Washington DC poetry communities, curating the In Your Ear series in Adams Morgan with Tom Orange and Jules Boykoff. She then moved to Southern Maryland to teach at St. Mary’s College of Maryland. She helped Michael Glaser direct the St. Mary’s Poetry Festival in 2004, and team-taught poetry workshops with him in England in 2005, 2007, and 2009. In 2005, Sand and Jules Boykoff returned to the west coast, first to Walla Walla, Washington, and then, Portland, Oregon. Sand taught at Willamette University from 2005-2007, and at Pacific University from 2006-2013. She taught at the Portland State University Honors Program as the Resident Poet from 2014-2016. With her mother, Meg Eberle, she co-founded Vignettes & Verses, a writing and personal history institute; they have led writing workshops in County Cork, Ireland in 2014 and 2016, with another scheduled for June 2017.

In a collaboration with artist Garrick Imatani, she was artist-in-residence from 2013-2015 at the City of Portland Archives and Records Center.  In 2015, she served in the Despina Artist Residency at Largo das Artes in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, returning to present a solo exhibition of this work at the Cascade Gallery, Portland Community College. This spring she is exhibiting her work in the Expanded Readings exhibit at the Sheppard Contemporary, University Nevada, Reno, curated by Inge Bruggeman.

Sand is consistently interested in intersections between poetry, art, and activism. She most recently co-founded the Right 2 Dream Too Ambassador Program, creating opportunities for housed Portlanders to meet and learn from houseless neighbors.

Sand lives in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Portland with Jules Boykoff and their daughter, Jessi Wahnetah. She is a member of PEN American Center.



Contact Kaia Sand at sand(at)kaiasand(dot)net


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