Poetry series

February 18, 2017

Poets Wanted: Dead or Alive

Join Michael Dylan Welch for another new series of FREE “Poets Wanted: Dead or Alive” presentations this year, starting soon at the Redmond Regional Library, 15990 NE 85th Street in Redmond, Washington. Here’s the line-up for 2017:

Tuesday, February 28, 6:30 pm
Issa: Japanese Haiku Poet

Tuesday, March 7, 6:30 pm
William Carlos Williams: American Poet

Tuesday, March 21, 6:30 pm
Denise Levertov: Seattle Poet

Tuesday, March 28, 6:30 pm
Dylan Thomas: British Poet

All presentations are free! Plus on March 1 (7:00 pm) Michael will be doing a Dr. Seuss presentation for children and families, also at the Redmond Library.

These presentations will feature biographical information, videos, poems, discussion, and more! You are also welcome to bring your own favorite poems by these authors to share, perform, and discuss.

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

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)

Breathing the Water

Breathing the Water is a Seattle celebration of the work and life of poet Denise Levertov. Events include films, readings, recitals and other gatherings. (Click on dates for additional information.)

On Monday, May 4, 2015, at 6:00pm, author Rebecca Brown, poet Jan Wallace, and The Project Room will host an evening remembering Levertov by introducing her work, screening short films about her and sharing audio and video clips of Levertov reading.

On Tuesday, May 5, at 7:00pm, an Homage to Levertov reading at the Sorrento Hotel will feature Fr. John D. Whitney, SJ, Philip Shaw, Mark Petterson and Jan Wallace reading poems by Levertov as well as original work inspired by the poet. Music by Rick Miller, of the Half-Brothers. Rebecca Brown, emcee.

On Thursday, May 7, at 7:00pm, at St. Joseph Parish, poet and Levertov friend Jan Wallace, pastor of St Joseph, Fr. John D. Whitney, SJ, and writer and parishioner Rebecca Brown will present a brief biography of Levertov, then read and discuss several Levertov poems, with special emphasis on her Catholic poems and those written during the time she was a parishioner at St Joseph. A St Joseph middle school student will read original poems written with Levertov Festival visiting writers.

On Saturday, May 9, at 11:00am, at Lakeview Cemetery, Fr. Glen Butterworth will offer a gravesite blessing, and Levertov friends and poets Jan Wallace and Emily Warn will read Levertov and original poems.

On Thursday, May 14, at 7:00pm, at The Elliott Bay Book Company, there will be a celebration of Levertov’s writing by Rebecca Brown and other friends and writers influenced by her work.

On Saturday, May 16 (City of Seattle’s Denise Levertov Day), Choral Arts, a vocal ensemble in residence at St Joseph Church, where Levertov was a parishioner, will present the world premiere of a setting of Levertov’s poem “Making Peace,” at 8:00pm at the St. Joseph’s Parish Hall. The evening starts with a reception, at 6:15pm, and a pre-concert conversation, at 7:30pm.

on poetry

October 24, 2013

Denise Levertov“You have come to shore. / There are no instructions.”
Denise Levertov
(October 24, 1923 – December 20, 1997)
. . . . .
quote is from “The Book Without Words” in A Door in the Hive
photo of Denise Levertov by Elsa Dorfman