Category: News!


This is the archive site for the Cascadia Poetry Festival. For current news, see Festival is an international event that gathers writers, artists, scientists, and activists to collaborate, discover and foster deeper connection between the place and all who live here.

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Cascadian Zen

The Cascadia Poetry Festival resumes October 6-8, 2023 as launch event for Cascadian Zen, a new anthology being edited by Jason Wirth, Adelia MacWilliam and Paul E Nelson, with expert graphic design by Theresa Whitehill. The two main venues confirmed are the Spring Street Center and the Richard Hugo House. Brenda Hillman and Andrew Schelling are confirmed participants. Founders Circle members of the Cascadia Poetics Lab are eligible for early registration.

Give Big WA 2021

I am asking your support for SPLAB during Give Big and contributions are being accepted now.

The Cascadia Poetry Festival will resume in Fall 2022 (inshallah) with the release of a book entitled Cascadian Zen. Jason Wirth, Theresa Whitehill, Adelia MacWIlliam and I are working on it and we are excited about the project and the possibilities for launch events throughout the Cascadia Bioregion.

As for the fest’s parent organization, between July 2020 and last week I’ve been working my ass off with the guidance of the SPLAB Board, 501 Commons and specifically two of their representatives, Rebecca Garrity Putnam and James Morgese. They have been phenomenal and have provided the guidance I have been seeking for many years. I have resisted much of what passes for “organizational development” in the non-profit world because it has always been presented to me as a watering down of our content, which admittedly is niche, but also fills a need that I think is increasingly in demand in this culture. How to, paraphrasing longtime SPLAB friend Anne Waldman: “Be in the mind/perspective of a writer 24 hours a day.” How to lived the life of a poet as a spiritual calling? As a soul-building exercise? As the late longtime SPLAB friend Michael McClure would say, is poetry with “a hunger for liberation?”

The addition to the board of Matt Trease in December 2017, Cate Gable in September 2018, Jason Wirth in 2020 and Diana Elser in 2021 have changed the board culture and are ready to install some significant changes to SPLAB, including a re-branding as early as this summer. In them there is a degree of poetry knowledge, business world acumen, bioregional expertise and good old fashioned hard work that combined is prompting hugely positive developments. And former board members Joe Chiveney and Nadine Maestas are continuing their associations, which is a good sign.

We seek 400 SPLAB supporters at $100 each annually. We will have certain benefits for contributions at that level that we’re developing, and contributions made now will qualify the supporter for those additional benefits. I love how this is all coming together and more information is forthcoming. But let me say this:

The SPLAB year starts on July 4 with the release of the first lists in the Poetry Postcard Fest. A primer in spontaneous composition, this month one can get a taste of what Anne Waldman was referring to above. In the fall there is a Postcard Fest open mic to share postcard fest experiences and discuss work just created. Soon after are workshops, which give postcard participants and interested others a deeper look at the theory and practice of the spontaneous stance toward poem-making: Projective Verse (Charles Olson), Organic Form (Denise Levertov, Robert Duncan), The Practice of Outside (Robin Blaser, Jack Spicer), Experimental Lyric Poetry (Brenda Hillman), Serial Form (Daphne Marlatt, George Stanley, George Bowering) and Open, Exploratory Form (Nate Mackey.) A sense of the material covered in these workshops can be seen here:

and upcoming, here:

Workshop testimonials are humbling and accessed here:

Soon we will resume the Cascadia Poetry Festival and we continue to conduct interviews.

We have survived the pandemic (so far) and have used this time to sharpen our focus and make our case for your support. Thanks for considering support during Give Big and stay tuned for developments as we evolve.

With gratitude,

Paul E Nelson
Founding Director


The next Cascadia Poetry Festival happens May 1-3, 2020, on San Juan Island, at the Multiverse. The Life and Legacy of Robin Blaser and The Practice of Cascadia/The Practice of Self will be organizing themes. This fest will be a hybrid retreat/festival and will happen at The Multiverse on San Juan Island. Scheduled presenters are subject to change, but at this time include Mary Norbert Körte, Miriam Nichols, Sharon Thesen, Barry McKinnon and others TBA.

CPF-Anacortes-2019 Video & Reviews

A last few reviews of the last Cascadia Poetry Festival are coming in to SPLAB HQ near the herons, osprey, swallows and hummingbirds and they are being posted on the fest website here:

Some highlights:

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 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…

– Christopher Yohmei Blasdel

And here are some of the videos, captured and expertly edited by Leopoldo Seguel, with our huge gratitude:


See all fest videos here.


CPF-Anacortes 2019 May 9-12

Cascadia Poetry Festival-Anacortes 2019: A Tribute to Sam Hamill

See the schedule here.

The Cascadia Poetry Festival returns May 9-12, 2019, in Anacortes, Washington! All events except workshops will happen at the Croatian Cultural Center, 801 5th Street in Anacortes. Gold Passes are $25 and admit the holder to all events except Steve Kuusisto’s master workshop. The first 45 Gold Pass holders can also register for one of the free workshops. In addition to a tribute to Sam Hamill, poet, editor, translator and Co-Founder of Copper Canyon Press, there will be the launch of two anthologies, the Samthology for Sam Hamill and a bilingual poetry anthology in Spanish and English, Make It True meets Medusario. Among the scheduled poets are José Kozer (winner of the 2013 Neruda Award from the Chilean government), Washington State Poet Laureate Claudia Castro Luna, Copper Canyon Press co-founder William O’Daly, Shin Yu Pai, Stephen Collis, Tim McNulty, Stephen Kuusisto, Rebecca Seiferle, Ian Boyden, Lyn Coffin and Kent Johnson. There will be a shakuhachi flute performance by longtime Hamill collaborator Christopher Yohmei Blasdel. Gold passes admit you to all events except master workshops, are $25 & on sale.

Two Anthologies Launched at CPF

This year’s Cascadia Poetry Festival will feature the launch of TWO anthologies. One is a tribute to Sam, called the Samthology, with work in Spanish, French and English:

Introduction by Cate Gable
Drinking at Sundown by Alexis Bernaut
Buvant Au Couchant by Alexis Bernaut
學柯 Study The Axe Handle by Ian Boyden
samimmemorial by Lyn Coffin
Getting to Know Sam (and two other poems)by Leszek Chudziński
Letter from Boston by Michael Daley
Blasphemy by Martín Espada
Milosz and Hamill by Cate Gable
Coast Chronicles: Loose in Paris with a Fugitive Poet by Cate Gable
Paris, July 1, 2016: Letter to Sam by Cate Gable
The Next Garden by Kim Goldberg
Temple of the Word: What Sam Hamill Asked of Poetry by Shaun T. Griffin
From Paragraphs from a Day-Book by Marilyn Hacker
Homenaje A Sam Hamill by José Kozer
Tribute to Sam Hamill Translated from the Spanish by Raúl Sánchez
A Devotional for Sam Hamill: Habitude by Stephen Kuusisto
Interview with Sam Hamill by Paul E Nelson
Old Friend by Paul E Nelson
Letter to Sam Hamill by Paul E Nelson
A Simple Gift by William O’Daly
Habitation by Thomas H. Pruiksma
The Calling by Heidi Seaborn
A Pair of Hanging Scrolls: Landscape and Couplet of Chinese Verse (late 18th century)
by Ike Taiga by Rebecca Seiferle
Nine Bows for a Brother Monk by Karma Tenzing Wangchuk……

The Samthology will be launched Saturday, May 11, 2019, at 7pm at the Croatian Cultural Center, 801 5th Street in Old Town Anacortes.

Make It True meets Medusario is a mash-up of two previous anthologies. Medusario is a seminal documentation of the neobarroco school of Latin American poetry.From José Kozer’s essay THE NEO-BAROQUE: A CONVERGING IN LATIN AMERICAN POETRY:

A Neo-Baroque poet… tends not to stay within a given framework but rather, I would say, is all over the place. He deals in abrupt syntax, displacement, and a non-systematic system that can be found, mutatis mutandis, in the poetry of Olson and Zukofsky. The space of the Neo-Baroque poet is splintered. It has, of course, its own logic, a logic that includes, and at times prefers, the illogical, in the way an atheist includes God in his thoughts.

And from Matthew Trease’s brilliant introduction to Make it True meets Medusario:

The starting point was envisaged as a bringing together of the poetry communities represented by two earlier anthologies: Medusario : muestra de poesía latinoamericana (Fondo de Cultura Económica, 1996), an anthology of Latin American Neobarroco poets that Kozer had co-edited, and Make It True: Poetry from Cascadia (Leaf Press, 2015), a bioregional poetry anthology of which Nelson was a co-editor. In the mid-1990s, Medusario brought together a generation of Latin American poets who had been breaking with the work of forebearers like Pablo Neruda and Ernesto Cardenal, and instead drew a lineage that reflected more the neo-baroque tendencies of Cuban poet José Lezama Lima and Brazilian proto-concretist Haroldo De Campos. Much like Donald Allen’s groundbreaking New American Poetry did for post-war American poets, Medusario established a new potential lineage for Spanish and Portuguese speaking poets that included much of the poly-vocal and paratactic experiments of high Modernism along with the meter and imagery of English Metaphysical poets and the bards of the Spanish Golden Century Baroque.

Poets included in MmM:

Translated by Alejandro Carrillo and Dana Nelson.

NEO-BARROCO (Medusario) poets include: Carmen Berenguer, Marosa Di Giorgio, Roberto Echavarren, Eduardo Espina, Reynaldo Jiménez, Tamara Kamenszain, José Kozer, Pedro Marqués de Armas, Maurizio Medo, Néstor Perlongher, Soleida Ríos, Roger Santiváñeaz, and Raúl Zurita

CASCADIANS (Make It True) poets include: Stephen Collis, Elizabeth Cooperman, Sarah de Leeuw, Claudia Castro Luna, Nadine Maestas, Peter Munro, Paul E Nelson, John Olson, Shin Yu Pai, Clea Roberts, Cedar Sigo, Matthew Trease and Thomas Walton

There will also be a Seattle launch of Make it True meets Medusario, Sunday, May 12, at 3pm, at Elliott Bay Book Company, 1521 Tenth Avenue, Seattle, WA 98122.