Author: Splabman

Poet/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 Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Sam Hamill, José Kozer, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Joanne Kyger, George Bowering, Brenda Hillman and Daphne Marlatt, 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.

FAQ about coming to the Festival

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Where can I stay in Nanaimo that is close to downtown?

A: We have sponsor hotels that are offering festival rates for anyone attending the Cascadia Poetry Festival for accommodation during the festival and for two days before and after the festival if they wish to come early and stay later. These hotels are the Coast Bastion, the Best Western, and Howard Johnson. These hotels are within a 5 to 10 minute walking distance from all our downtown venues such as the Nanaimo Museum for the Living Room, and the Globe Bar and Grille for the Marmot Bout and the After Party Marathon.

Q: What other accommodation is available in and around Nanaimo especially if I have a car and short distances are not an issue?

A: If you go to our page “SLEEP/EAT/CHILL”  you will find an assortment of places to stay through the Tourism Nanaimo link. In addition you can also find many interesting places to eat and hang out during your stay in Nanaimo.

Q: If I am going to be staying in downtown Nanaimo and I have a car, where can I safely park the car overnight? 

A: If you are staying at one of the sponsored hotels, there is parking available at a daily rate. Also there is municipal underground parking beneath the Port Theatre which is just around the corner from The Painted Turtle Guest House, the Coast Bastion and the Best Western. The 12 hour rates are 6 dollars and change for overnight parking and this is the least expensive for paid parking. Your can also park hourly during the day in the municipal parking. Howard Johnson has parking outside as part of the accommodation.

Q: I am taking my car to Vancouver Island University for the events there. What is the arrangement for parking?

A: The campus parking is run by a private organization with metered parking. (They’re very strict!) However we have arranged for Cascadia Poetry Festival attendees to receive a PARKING PASS to be displayed on their dashboard. This pass is good for the duration of the festival only. There will be designated PARKING LOTS for the festival. These are LOTS E, C AND A during the day and evenings and LOT N for evenings only. There will be volunteers to provide parking passes at these lots when you arrive. The campus is spread out on a hill so you should allow extra time to walk to Building 355. A map is here and there will be a map in your package.

Q: If I am staying downtown and do not have a car, how do I get to the VIU campus and Building 355?

A: There are two options. There is public transport that will take you to Vancouver Island University. You can check the schedule at

Also the Cascadia Poetry Festival will be running a volunteer carpooling shuttle in the early morning from 8:00 to 9:00 and in the early evening from 6:00 to 7:00 up to VIU, leaving from Skinner Street. This service is subject to availability.

Q: If I am staying downtown and do not have a car, how do I get back from the VIU campus to the downtown area in the afternoon and in the evening?

A: There are two options. There is public transport which will take you to the downtown area from Vancouver Island University. You can check the schedule at

Also the Cascadia Poetry Festival will be running a volunteer carpooling shuttle in the afternoon and evening after the last event at 2:00 pm and 9:30 pm respectively to the downtown. This service is subject to availability.

Q: If I am coming by ferry, without transportation, how do I get to the downtown area?

A: There are two ferries, one arriving at Departure Bay which is in close proximity to Nanaimo and the other at Duke Point which will require transportation. Departure Bay is the recommended destination. There is a Ferry Shuttle # 25 run by BC Transit Nanaimo to downtown. You can check the schedule at

Arrangements can also be made if absolutely necessary for a specific pick up by one of our volunteers if you cannot access the Ferry Shuttle # 25. You will need to email and ask for this special arrangement.

Q: I ordered my Gold Pass on-line or by cheque in the mail. How do I get my Gold Pass for the festival?

A: On Friday between 8:30 and 10:15 (the start of the first event requiring a Gold Pass) we will have our Greeter Table Staff available for you to check in for the festival. You will receive a package including the program and your Gold Pass, as well as other pieces of useful information. You will need to present your Gold Pass at the door for all of the events except the Living Room which is available to everyone, not just attendees of the festival.

Q: If I donated to the Cascadia Poetry Festival or bought a Gold Pass on Indiegogo where I am to receive a perk, where can I pick up my perk?

A: This will vary with the perk, however the procedure is to mention the perk at the Greeter Table and we will have a record of it and be able to direct you to where you can pick up your perk.

Q: I am a poet who is attending the festival and I have a published book. Is there a place where I can bring copies of my book to display and have it for sale?

A: Yes, the Poets’ Book Store will be established at the Living Room events taking place at the Nanaimo Museum from 3 to 5pm. It will be an informal table where you can display your book (one title only) and have it for sale. No one will be staffing this table but it will be adjacent to the Living Room Reading Circle where participants can visit the table before and after the event and talk to you about your poetry and your book. Purchase arrangements can be made privately by you.

Q: Will there be assigned seating for all events at the festival?

A: The Gold Pass and the single entry tickets are all General Admission other than some assigned seating for poets involved in the reading event. Should the featured readings in the evening on Friday and Saturday and the Celebratory Closing reading on Sunday afternoon fill to capacity, we are providing a live-stream video/audio feed into the Small Press Fair room with seating for the overflow. Events in the downtown particularly in the later evening are subject to governmental regulations as to the numbers of people. The Globe Bar and Grille can accommodate 145 people at anyone time. We will be tracking the numbers in and out during the events, so that we are always at maximum capacity.

Dr. David D. McCloskey, “Father of Cascadia”, at the Festival!

David McCloskey Dr. David D. McCloskey is an Emeritus Professor of Seattle University. He taught in the Sociology/Anthropology Department as well as in the Ecological Studies program for over three decades (1971-2004). He served as chair of both departments, and co-founded Ecological Studies, having designed its curriculum. He created and taught more than one hundred different courses in ten different departments or programs throughout his tenure there.

A long-time bioregionalist who has spoken and written widely on the subject and Cascadia, he is the founder and director of the Cascadia Institute. He created the first maps of “The Ish River Country” (now officially the “Salish Sea”) and of Cascadia, the Ecoregions of Cascadia, as well as the soon to be published, “Bioregions of Western North America.” He is currently releasing new GIS-based small and large maps of the bioregion. He has been acknowledged as the “Father of Cascadia”– He delivered a keynote presentation on “Cascadia Geography: Place & Spirit” at the 2nd Cascadia Poetry Fest in Seattle recently. Among other accomplishments, he is the first to conceive of “Cascadia Poetry” and to initiate a region-wide decades’ long search for its possibilities, editing an anthology, Mountains, Rivers, Sea, and Sky.

He continues making new maps and is creating the new fields of “Bioregional Geography” and “Cascadia Geography.”

David is our Friday morning (May 1st) speaker. Schedule details here.

Ps Happy healthy creative new year to you all!

Cascadians! Last Stand on Burnaby Mountain…poem by Katherine L. Gordon

Burnaby Mountain

On Burnaby Mountain
angels of Armageddon gather
to see which end
a divided human race will choose –
a sacred site in Nature’s kingdom
guarded pristine and pure
by centuries of Squamish keepers,
a place of generation for animals and birds
a tree-haven forest temple
crowning the heights,
trust of green treasure for the planet’s promise.

Dark forces rising will cut it down
drill and de-forest
thrust pipe lines through a virgin soil
to carry black bitumen to innocent sea-shores
risk a spill of pollution with no remedy
on settlements, all life the waves have held.
Profit the only quest on terrain of beauty,
ecology of interconnection pillaged.

This is the tipping point
the summit of prophecy–
the planet slides into a climate
that no longer sustains.
Here we make a stand,
dark forces, angels of light,
a battle to the end of days.
Choose your side.
Katherine  L. Gordon
Injunction against righteous protest day,
November, 2014.

You can hear Katherine’s poem on the World Poetry Café Radio Show Tuesday night between 9-10 PM on Vancouver Co-op Radio (CFRO 100.5 FM), with your ever-eloquent hosts, Ariadne Sawyer  and Israel Mota.


pipelineThe Growing Resistance to Climate Change

From the blog of Stephen Collis, one of our Cascadia poets:

On Monday November 17, the BC Supreme Court will decide whether or not to grant Kinder Morgan an injunction against protestors who have been occupying the public and unceded lands the US oil giant wants to carve its pipeline through. This will, or will not, potentially lead to acts of civil disobedience and arrests. Kinder Morgan will, or will not, proceed with its testing and “surveying” for its pipeline (it’s worth noting, since so many of us have no faith in the impartiality of the NEB, that this “surveying” is more likely in actuality the beginning of the pipeline’s construction). Respondents in a civil suit filed by Kinder Morgan may, or may not, have to defend themselves in court, and they may, or may not, be held liable for millions of dollars of supposed “damages.”Stephen Collis

All of this seems momentous—and in many ways it is—but I also have my eyes on the proverbial “bigger picture.” Whatever happens in this one site of resistance…

To read the whole blog post, go here.

Christine Lowther Wins Award!

Christine Lowther, poet, author, editor, activist and feminist, Chris Lowther

has won the first Rainy Coast Arts Award for Significant Accomplishment, a new award from the Pacific Rim Arts Society.

“This Tofino artist has kept at her craft for decades, sometimes against substantial obstacles. She often embodies the quintessential starving artist, scrambling in the winters for house-sits, dog-sits, cat-sits, even fish-sits, and her summers living, mostly alone, in a floathouse steeped in the wildness of a quiet bay, absorbing the nature she loves and writes about so well.

All the while she works away, largely unsung, following her own sometimes peculiar Muse. She is an unabashed uber-fan of Star Trek and Harry Potter … and also punk bands like D.O.A. and everything Scottish (especially ale).

She has produced a significant body of work — usually with significant artistic angst — and has steadily pushed her craft and expanded her range. Her poems have appeared on transit in Vancouver and in literary magazines across the nation. She has published three well received books of poetry, edited two anthologies focusing on artistic life in our region, and appeared in many others.

Her newest book, Born Out of This (Caitlin Press), is a characteristically eclectic mix of autobiography, nature writing, humour, obscure quotations, activism and punk.

She has been an ardent champion of the Clayoquot literary scene for decades. She is one of the estimated six people in Canada who still read copious amount of poetry.”

Feature Poet…Under the W…Wong, (as in) Rita

Rita Wong  Rita Wong is the author of three books of poetry: sybil unrest (co-written with Larissa Lai, Line Books, 2008), forage (Nightwood 2007, winner of Canada Reads Poetry 2011), and monkeypuzzle (Press Gang 1998). She lives on the unceded Coast Salish territories otherwise known as Vancouver, where her work investigates the relationships between contemporary poetics, social justice, ecology, and decolonization.

Wong’s poems have appeared in anthologies such as Regreen: New Canadian Ecological Poetry; Prismatic Publics: Innovative Canadian Women’s Poetry and Poetics; The Harbrace Anthology of Poetry; Making a Difference: Canadian Multicultural Literature; and more. Her poem  “J28″ for IdleNoMore can be found in the journal Decolonization: Indigeneity, Education and Society: She has received the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop Emerging Writer Award and the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize.

Wong teaches in Critical and Cultural Studies at Emily Carr University of Art + Design in Vancouver, where she has developed a humanities course focused on water, for which she received a fellowship from the Center for Contemplative Mind in Society. She also serves as the President of Emily Carr University’s Faculty Association, creatively facing the question of what union renewal in contemporary post-secondary education may entail. Currently she is researching the poetics of water ( and working toward watershed literacy.

Find more about Rita here.

100 Innovative Cascadia Poets – the Anthology

Leaf Press LogoThrough Leaf Press in Lantzville, BC, target date May 2015, we will publish an anthology of 100 innovative and influential poets of Cascadia, the bioregion which stretches from Cape Mendocino in the South to Mt. St. Elias, Alaska, to the North and to the Rocky Mountains in the East. A survey of the bioregional poetry scene, beginning with an introduction by the co-editors, Paul Nelson, Nadine Maestas, Barry McKinnon and George Stanley. The book will be about 400 pages and will include 50 USAmerican poets, 50 Canadians, introductory biographies explaining the rationale for the inclusion of each poet; what makes them influential and/or innovative.

For promotion, there will be an evening at the 3rd Cascadia Poetry Festival, slated to happen in Nanaimo, BC, Apr 30-May 3, 2015, dedicated to the book as well as a panel the following day. In addition, we envision a series of readings throughout the bioregion in the major centers of Cascadia: Vancouver, Seattle, Portland, Spokane, Nelson, Prince George, Nanaimo and Eureka/Arcata.

The tenor of the poetry will take off from the comments made by George Stanley at the 2nd Cascadia Poetry Festival on the Innovations From Here panel. On that occasion he discussed how Modernism was a revolt in part from the excesses of Romantic poetry and Post-Modernism was a revolt in part from the academic and formalist influence on poetry in North America. He said what we have in large part today in poetry is irony, a tone which has permeated everything in our culture all the way to sitcoms and advertising. A revolt from that would be poetry that is realistic, or sincere, without giving up the use of speech, as Charles Olson said, that is “least careless and least logical” and techniques such as experimental lyric, spontaneous, collage and other composition methods. Work that exudes, as Robin Blaser put it, “a spiritual chase.”

We seek to raise $10,000 for this effort, $5,000 going to the participating poets, the rest to printing and marketing. Much of these costs will be recouped through the sale of 400 copies of the title. This will be the first anthology ever focused on the innovators from this bioregion, a group which in all art forms stands at the vanguard of cultural change. We believe the times we live in call for a deeper response to issues like economic inequality, rampant climate chaos and out-of- control capitalism which on a separate panel at CPF 2 Stephen Collis likened to a “doomsday device.” Thanks for your consideration.


Paul Nelson

Festival Sneak Peek

goldberg fraserDavid Fraser and Kim Goldberg packed an hour-long feature on the new Changes Radio show, Poetry Matters, with info about next year’s Cascadia Poetry Festival (and other poetry events) here in Nanaimo. Listen to the podcast here. Our confirmed headliners for the festival include Brenda Hillman, Sam Hamill, Susan Musgrave, Robert Bringhurst and David McCloskey (“father of Cascadia”). Full list of confirmed poets is here.

The Cascadia Poetry Festival has a focus on Bioregionalism and how poetics, geography and cultural history co-inform each other. We’ll have a Small Press Fair too! The first 2 festivals were in Seattle.