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Cascadia Poetry Festival-Anacortes May 9-12, 2019: A Tribute to Sam Hamill

Video coming soon. The festival was a huge success and we are in the very early stages of planning a retreat rather than a festival as this work of merging poetics and bioregionalism continues. CPF-2019 featured the launch of two new anthologies: Make It True meets Medusario and the Samthology: A Tribute to Sam Hamill.

See the 2019 schedule here.

The Cascadia Poetry Festival is absolutely unique, offering both attention to local conditions (both social and geograpical/ecological), and to general matters of aesthetics (what poetry is up to right now–what matters to poets, and how are they responding to what matters). I know of few communities like this in the world – the other I am familiar with is in the UK: open, focused, exploratory, welcoming, democratic and engaged to its very core. The Cascadia Poetry Festival is a vital necessity.

– Stephen Collis

The Cascadia Poetry Festival, held in Anacortes, WA from May 9-12, was a wonderfully fulfilling experience for both participants and invited guests. The festival programs consisted of readings and discussion panels by well-known, accomplished poets and writers who were colleagues, collaborators and friends of the late poet Sam Hamill. The connection with Sam was in fact the theme of the festival, but the festival discourse, especially the panels, took on a life of its own and developed into a series of heartfelt discussions about Zen, the strength and frailties of the human spirit and the nature of ones relationship with those whom we admire.

As someone who attended as both invited guest and workshop participant, I especially enjoyed the afternoon readings by the other festival participants. The attendees of the readings consisted of local poets, writers and students. Some of these folk were published, some not. Some of them read from memory and some from notes or the printed page. Some were experienced readers, others were not. But what connected them all was a heartfelt desire to translate their experience of the world into the medium of words to share with others.

And this got right to the heart of the matter.

Christopher Yohmei Blasdel
Shakuhachi performer, writer
Adjunct Lecturer, The University of Hawaii, Manoa

Steve Kuusisti, Christopher Yohmei Blasdel and Cate the Wonder Dog

Ian Boyden showing the book he created for Sam Hamill, Habitation.

Poets gather in the Living Room to share their own work. (Photo by Lauren Grosskopf) Croatian Cultural Cener, Anacortes, WA

 

 

 

The Cascadia Poetry Festival is an international event which gathers writers, artists, scientists and activists to collaborate, discover and foster deeper connection between all inhabitants and the place itself. Over four days the fest serves as cultural bioregional investigation and features Academic, Democratic and Performance components, late night readings, a Small Press Fair and several workshops. Some of the best poetry minds in the bioregion gather, discuss this place and begin to better understand Cascadia and our role here. The festival was founded by SPLAB, a Seattle-based non-profit organization founded in 1993.

CPF5 (Oct 12-15, 2017) was a tribute to Tacoma native Richard Brautigan.

The festival was not staged in 2018, but two retreats were facilitated to allow organizers and bioregional activists and poets to investigate the intersection of poetics and bioregionalism:

Becoming Cascadian, May 31-June 3, 2018, in Rainier Beach (Seattle) WA
Deep in Cascadia Poetics Retreat, September 6-9, 2018, in Cumberland, BC.

Michael McClure (Photo by Garrett Caples)

The 2017 festival schedule is here.

Some reviews of CPF5 by participants:

I’ve been to many poetry festivals over the years, and the Cascadia Festival is one of the best at combining literary energy with explorations of environmental, political, historical, and sociological pursuits with a general celebration of poetry.  The invited poets offered a wonderful representation of the diversity of our bioregion—as did the poetics of the works shared.  There were youth events, Veteran events, “living room readings” (that featured festival poets and anyone from the community could share work in).  The WA historical piece embodied by the celebration of Richard Brautigan, the consistent return to thinking about poetry and the environment, the involvement of young poets, older poets:  really, I cannot articulate how generous and egalitarian and stimulating the festival is.  Truly, The Cascadia Poetry festival is a great thing for 

Tod Marshall Photo by Amy Sinisterra

Humanities WA and Arts WA to be a sponsor of—to put it simply, The Festival repped well and did both organizations proud!  I was glad to be there for it and am eager for the next one.

Tod Marshall
Washington Poet Laureate

 

…It was a weekend’s concentration of poetry, poetics, disaster, disability, old age, young age, woundedness, healing, gathering, dispersing, and energy-producing.  This was among the instabilities of the northwest coast Cascadian geography, and its history of conquest and adaptation.  In fact, adaptation seemed to be an underlying theme–a positive theme–of the festival.  Adaptation includes laughter, description, mourning, love, acknowledgement, and recognition.  There was great poetry at this festival and it was brilliantly and respectfully organized.  For myself, I also really appreciated being put up in a comfortable hotel room (with a view of Mt. Rainier) within walking distance of the venue, the venue itself (historical, dignified), and the courtesies and kindnesses extended by Paul and Dale and Bhakti and others working at the festival…  

thanks, and talk soon,

Sharon Thesen
Kelowna, BC

Paul,

Thank you again for organizing the Cascadia event (a much needed injection of creative energy & community in these bleak times) and especially for getting Michael McClure on the state history museum stage. That was a great setting for a poet of his stature. 

Your (Persian Pony by Michael McClure) introduction is great, dude. It’s a marvelous distillation of the McClurean aesthetic & disposition. I’ve always admired your stunning clarity. One sentence in particular, “McClure’s poetic courage plumbs the depths of perception, achieves a precision of luminous details, a striking originality, and a range of expression form the cosmic to the microscopic,” is an excellent summation of McClure’s oceanic scope. Reading him always gives me a more acute sensation of being alive, having a physical presence especially, as well as a strong undercurrent transcendent force. Your intro encapsulates that quality with pith & mammalian warmth.

Painful to see Michael adjusting to what I assume is a recent hip replacement. Getting old sucks. But what a tour de force to get on stage and immediately begin reciting Chaucer from memory. Jesus, that’s amazing… 

It was also really nice talking with Bhakti.

John Olson

CPF4 in Seattle, Nov 2016, happened at Spring Street Center. See the schedule here.

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Glenna Cook Shazia Hafiz Sarah Rauch and Brittany Reid in the Poetic habitat now workshop, Nov 4, 2016, Spring Street Center (Photo by Meredith Nelson)

CPF5 (2017) Sponsor

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Tim McNulty at CPF4 panel honoring the memory and legacy of Denise Levertov

The first iteration happened in 2012. Cascadia 2 happened at Seattle U and Spring Street Center in Seattle (2014) and Cascadia 3 was staged in Nanaimo, BC, in 2015 by David Fraser and a dedicated local organizing committee. CPF4 happened Nov 3-6, 2016 at Spring Street Center and other Seattle venues.

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daphne-marlatt

Daphne Marlatt at Poetic habitat now workshop, CPF4, Spring Street Center, Seattle, Nov 4, 2016

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Photo of Yvonne Blomer by Faiza Sultan, Nanaimo 2015

Photo of Yvonne Blomer by Faiza Sultan, Nanaimo 2015