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.
Read Kaia’s poem “She Had Her Own Reason For Participating”
Read the walking interview with Kaia along the route of a 1978 Women’s Flashlight Nightmarch
See images of Kaia’s ideas in visual form in locations along the route