Here comes the Cascadia Poetry Festival! Get thee to Tacoma! Events begin on Thursday evening, October 12, 2017, 7:00pm, at King’s Books and continue all day Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at the Washington State History Museum.

There will be a tribute to Tacoma native Richard Brautigan with his daughter, Ianthe Brautigan, as well as readings and/or workshops featuring Michael McClure, CAConrad, Patricia Smith, Bruce Weigl, Washington Poet Laureate Tod Marshall, Sharon Thesen, Lucia Misch, and Lorna Dee Cervantes, among others. A $25 Gold Pass gives you access to everything except workshops. See the complete schedule and performer bios as well as links to workshop descriptions and event registration.


coming up in Cumberland

August 30, 2017

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Cascadia Poetry Festival. It has a dynamic presence, if no permanent home, and has been enjoyed in Seattle and Nanaimo (BC), and will be coming up in October in Tacoma. But before then, there’s one more Cascadia Poetry Festival — in Cumberland, BC, on Vancouver Island.

It opens on Friday, September 8, 2017, with a reception, poetry reading, and party. On Saturday, there will be a panel, small press fair, open reading event, poetry reading, and another party. On Sunday, the festival will close with a morning workshop. Your $20 Gold Pass gets you into all events except the Sunday workshop.

Spend the weekend on Vancouver Island and enjoy the words and the scenery. Details at Cascadia Poetics Lab.

Denise LevertovA plaque to honor the memory of internationally-renowned poet Denise Levertov will be unveiled in a ceremony at 10:00am, Saturday, December 3, 2016, at her former Seattle home, 5535 Seward Park Avenue S.

The memorial is being presented by SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) and the Rainier Valley Rotary, the two organizations that helped raise funds for the plaque. More than forty individuals and organizations contributed. Longtime Levertov friend and University of Washington Professor Emeritus Colleen McElroy is scheduled to attend and address the participants.

SPLAB Founder Paul Nelson comments, “Denise Levertov was one of the most gifted poets to ever call Seattle home. That there is no public acknowledgment of that is an oversight we felt needed correction. Thanks to the Rotary’s efforts and to the crowdfunding campaign that included some of her longtime friends and fans, this beautiful plaque will inform the generations to come that Levertov lived here, in Seward Park, where she wrote some of the best poems ever written about Mt. Rainier. We honor her life and achievement.”

Levertov lived at the home the last eight years of her life, until her death, December 20, 1997. In her storied career, she published over thirty books of poems, essays and translations and her work clarifying the open form approach she called Organic Poetry was a huge influence on post-World War II North American poets. Her work and legacy was the subject of a tribute at the recent Cascadia Poetry Festival produced by SPLAB.

. . . . .
Portrait of Denise Levertov by Elsa Dorfman

yes, yes, November

October 28, 2016


It’s almost November, and if your calendar isn’t already bulging, please note:

  • National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo) celebrates its 18th year of encouraging creativity, education, and the power of the imagination through the largest writing event in the world. This year, NaNoWriMo expects nearly 500,000 people to start a 50,000-word novel in the month of November, guided by this year’s theme: Your Novel, Your Universe. More than 250 NaNoWriMo novels have been traditionally published. Many poets use the project as a challenge to write a poem each day of the month. To find out more, sign up, get pep talks, participate in forums, and get inspired, visit the NaNoWriMo website.
  • Writer’s Digest will offer the 2016 November PAD (Poem A Day) Chapbook Challenge. Robert Lee Brewer, author of the Poetic Asides blog, will post a prompt each day. The idea is to write a poem in response to that prompt and then, at the end of the month, assemble and submit a chapbook of the best 20 or fewer of your poems. Find out all the details on the 2016 November PAD Chapbook Challenge: Guidelines page.
  • November also brings the Cascadia Poetry Festival (Seattle, Nov 3-6) and Wordstock (Portland, Nov 5).
  • Daylight Saving Time ends on Sunday, November 6, 2016, 2:00:00 AM, when clocks are turned backward 1 hour to 1:00:00 AM local standard time.

Get some Cascadia!

October 8, 2016

Cascadia Poetry Festival

This is a guest post by Paul Nelson

The fourth Cascadia Poetry Festival happens Thursday through Sunday, November 3-6, 2016, at the Spring Street Center, 15th & Spring in Seattle, and three other venues. Inspired by the Taos Poetry Circus, the fest features Academic, Democratic and Performative aspects, as well as late-night events that have more of a party feel.

The Academic portion of the fest is handled in two ways: Workshops and Panels. One workshop, Poetic habitat now (Daphne Marlatt), will investigate what Wendell Berry’s call for a “biocentric” vision to replace our dominant anthropocentric one might mean in poetry. “Our challenge is to create a new language, even a new sense of what it is to be human.” This challenge is a call for a radical shift in our attention, one that foregrounds our relations with other species and with the elements that make up our habitat, one that recognizes how interdependent, even coterminous we are with them. Daphne Marlatt, the brilliant (and much overlooked south of the border) Vancouver poet, will facilitate and incorporate a notion from Denise Levertov, to whom this iteration of the fest is dedicated. (More about the Denise Levertov plaque project here.)

The other workshop will focus on the creation of beautiful hand-made artist books and be led by Portland poet Marilyn Stablein.

Panels happen on Saturday morning and will focus on the confluence of water and poetry in Cascadia, as well as Levertov’s legacy. That Marlatt, Sam Hamill, Tim McNulty and Brenda Hillman will be on the same stage talking about Levertov is something anyone interested in her legacy should not miss. In addition to the main stage poets already mentioned there will be UW Professor Emeritus Colleen McElroy, whose poems about her youth each equal about a thousand Black Lives Matter speeches; Sarah DeLeeuw of Prince George, BC, whose book-length poem Skeena looks at that mighty river from the river’s perspective; JM Miller, the UW-Tacoma faculty member and healer, whose new book is Wilderness Lessons; Peter Munro, the NOAA Fisheries Scientist who runs the popular EasySpeak Seattle reading series (& facilitates the panel); David McCloskey, the Father of Cascadia who gave the bioregion its name; Jordan Abel, the Vancouver indigenous poet whose erasures of settler texts was an award winning book, the place of scraps; and Elwha storyteller Roger Fernandes, among others. The closing reading will happen at Open Books.

A daily Democratic reading is Living Room, in which all poets can share their original work with other poets. The late night readings, called the After Party, are curated by Seattle poets Matt Trease and Greg Bem and happen at the trendy Common Area Maintenance, and a Cascadia Invitational Slam happens at Black & Tan Hall in Hillman City on Friday and Saturday nights.

On a personal note, the fest is part of a 20-year Cascadia Bioregional Cultural Investigation which also includes a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Innovative Cascadia Poetry, the first Cascadia Poetry anthology, Make It True: Poetry From Cascadia, interviews under the banner of American Prophets and soon Cascadian Prophets and my own serial poem re-enacting the history of Cascadia so far in two hunks: A Time Before Slaughter and Pig War & Other Songs of Cascadia. Through these efforts I hope to discover the Sh’te or animating spirit of place and become a fully re-inhabited Cascadian. See you at the fest.

Gold Passes for entry to every event (except the workshops and the Slam) are $35 and available at Brown Paper Tickets. Admission to single events will be available at the door for $10.

. . . . .
Paul NelsonPoet/interviewer Paul Nelson founded SPLAB & the Cascadia Poetry Festival, published: American Sentences (Apprentice House 2015); A Time Before Slaughter (Apprentice House, shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger) and Organic in Cascadia: A Sequence of Energies (essay, Lumme Editions, Brazil, 2013). He’s interviewed many poets, including Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, George Bowering and Brenda Hillman, presented poetry/poetics in London, Brussels, Qinghai & Beijing, China, and published work in Golden Handcuffs Review, Zen Monster and Hambone. Awarded The Capilano Review’s 2014 Robin Blaser Award, he writes an American Sentence every day and lives in Seattle in the Cedar River Watershed.
(Author photo by Susan M. Schultz)

the region in print

June 1, 2015

Leaf Press

Showcased last month at the 2015 Cascadia Poetry Festival, in Nanaimo, B.C., MAKE IT TRUE: Poetry from Cascadia is an anthology of work by 89 poets from “the bioregion lying west of the continental divide and spanning from Mt. Logan in Canada to the north and Cape Mendocino in California to the south.” The collection is edited by Paul Nelson with George Stanley, Barry McKinnon and Nadine Maestas, and published by Leaf Press. Read more about the volume in a Vancouver Sun article by Mary Ann Moore, and watch for (or request) it in your local book store.

think of it as dessert

April 16, 2015

Cascadia Poetry Festival 2015

If you’ve been dining on National Poetry Month’s prompts and readings and many other daily options, the Cascadia Poetry Festival may be just the delicious dessert you need. Held in Nanaimo, BC, on Vancouver Island, the Festival begins the afternoon of Thursday, April 30, 2015, and continues through Sunday, May 3, with a tasty selection of panels, readings, a small press fair and social events. The lineup of poets is impressive. A $25 (!!) Gold Pass gets you in to everything except workshops.

Vancouver Island is beautiful at this time of year, so don’t miss dessert. Visit the Cascadia Poetry Festival website and see more Cascadia Poetry Festival on Facebook.

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