New SPLAB Board Members

In the last 5 weeks two new members have joined the SPLAB board of directors. Please welcome these two extraordinary humans. Already they have changed the scope and direction of the organization and I am grateful for their work with SPLAB and its mission.

Diana Elser was elected to the SPLAB Board on April 5, 2021. Diana graduated from Utah State with a BA in English, then worked as a grant and technical writer in healthcare services and consulting. Born in Montana, she’s lived in El Paso, Texas, Great Falls, Montana; Jackson, Wyoming; Bountiful, Utah; Bay Area (Rodeo/Crockett); and Seattle (also Canada and Thailand).  She’s turned over peaches, waitressed, tended bar, and sold Bibles along the way – as well as raising three children and helping raise a stepson.  She moved to Seattle for love (which has lasted) in 1994 and went to work for Group Health (now Kaiser Health Plan of Washington) where she did market research and competitive intelligence as part of strategic planning.  In 2013, she retired, and dedicated her retirement to “the arts” and having fun – taking writing classes at Hugo House and the Jackson Hole Writers Conference, year after year, as well as traveling, gardening, playing guitar/songwriting and becoming a grandmother. Finishing Line Press published her first chapbook in April, 2021, and she has a couple more in the works.  Diana discovered SPLAB through the Poetry Postcard Festival (collaged her own cards), and continues to take classes.  She lives in San Clemente, but spends part of the summer in Seattle. She’s new to the SPLAB Board and serves as Board Secretary, and on the Governance Committee.

Adelia MacWilliam
Board Member since May 3, 2021

Adelia MacWilliamWhen Adelia MacWilliam did her poetry thesis at the University of Victoria she discovered that if you cast the mythic imagination across a piece of land that has always been part of your life, everything will out.  What she encountered amidst the remnants of a stunning wilderness – a savage history, with its culturally sanctioned amnesia – changed her view of her home forever. Her work explores the complexities of a settler culture struggling to create a home in a world it is simultaneously gutting.
Adelia was also co-founder of Cascadia Poetics Lab, www.cascadiapoeticslab.ca,  (now Terra Poetics) which, pre-pandemic, produced annual poetry events and the monthly Red Tree reading series in Cumberland on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. She has poems published in Reckoning 3 and 4, and in the anthology, Sweet Water: Poems for the Watershed. She divides her time between Cumberland and Desolation Sound.

The whole board list is here: https://splab.org/about-splab/splab-board/ a treasurer is needed and Diana is a participant in the Poetry Postcard Fest for which registration ends July 18. See: www.popo.submmittable.com

Posted in Blog | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Cate Gable on Police Poetry

SPLAB’s own Cate Gable, intrepid columnist for the Chinook Observer, observes the (ahem) “poetry” of the Minneapolis Police in the Derek Chauvin case:

There are several literary devices at play here. Let’s start with understatement. “To note” is an action that means to glance at and, in the most incidental way, notice something. It’s hardly the verb witnesses on the scene used as they watched George Floyd die. They testified that they pleaded for his life. They screamed, “You’re killing him!” They shouted, “He is not resisting, let him go!” and other perfectly appropriate and reasonable rejoinders. There was nothing incidental about George’s death throes, despite what the “officers noted.”

That he “appeared to be suffering medical distress” seems the height of understatement. In fact during the trial, pulmonologist Dr. Martin Tobin pinpointed the exact moment when George stopped breathing. As stated in a Slate article by Elliot Hannon, “Dr. Martin Tobin provided a powerful rebuttal and excruciating testimony Thursday outlining just how Floyd died… READ MORE

The language at play here is evocative of Allen Ginsberg’s paraphrase of William Blake when he was interviewed for SPLAB in June of 1994 talking about First Thought/Best Thought, something quite the opposite of the POPO poetry attempt Cate writes about in the case of the Minnesota Police report in the George Floyd case.

Allen Ginsberg: Before you filter it, it usually comes intact as a kind of raw, emotionally interesting gleam, usually visual. So Kerouac has the idea in his instructions for writing, “Don’t stop to think of words, but to see picture better.” The first primordial picture that you see. Because what people tend to do is be a little ashamed of their minds, or ashamed of their raw thoughts. “Well, that’s too personal,” or, “That’s just me. Maybe I should generalize it.” Say I’m having a dream in which I’m sleeping with mother. Now, I don’t want to write about THAT! So I’ll think I’ll say, “I had a dream in which I did something bad. Ha. Or I had a dream in which I outraged society, or I had a dream in which I…“ I don’t know. And finally, you’ll lose the humor and contradictoriness and quiddity and humanity of the first glimpse that goes back to Freud or goes back before the Bible. And you lose the detail and you lose the believability, and instead, you get some generalization or abstraction. And one very interesting thing that William Blake says is, “Generalization and abstraction are the plea of the hypocrite, knave and scoundrel.” Labor well the minute particulars. Take care of the little ones, the minute, particular details. Take care of the little ones. Kerouac has the phrase, “Details are the life of prose or poetry.” Or as Pound said, “Direct treatment of the thing or object,” or Williams says, “No ideas but in things,” or the American vernacular, “Give me a for instance.”

Give Big May 3-4, 2021

Poetry Postcard Fest registration now open.

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Please Give Big to SPLAB in 2021

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

https://www.givebigwa.org/Splab

Between July 2020 and last week I have been working my ass off with the guidance of 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:

https://paulenelson.com/2020/08/23/poetics-as-cosmology/

https://paulenelson.com/seriality-a-workshop/

https://paulenelson.com/a-sequence-of-energies/

and upcoming, here:

https://paulenelson.com/life-as-rehearsal-for-the-poem/

Workshop testimonials are humbling and accessed here:

https://paulenelson.com/testimonials/

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
SPLAB

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Challenge of Editing a Beat Legend

A wonderful look at the working style of one of SPLAB’s poetry heroes, Michael McClure, as described by his last editor Garrett Caples. To hear about the project on which they collaborated, dig this:

Mule Kick Blues Book Release with Anne Waldman, Eileen Myles, and Garrett Caples

Event will be held on Zoom. Click the link in the event description for info.,

Saturday, May 8th, 3:00 p.m. PT / 6:00 p.m. ET

 

 

 

 

 

The following day your humble narrator will be part of:

Michael McClure Memorial Tribute

Event will be held on Zoom. Click the link in the event description for info., Sunday, May 9th, 3:00 p.m. PT / 6:00 p.m. ET

A memorial tribute to

Michael McClure

with readings and remembrances by

Russ Tamblyn, CAConrad, Margaret Randall, Forrest Gander, George Herms, Jerome Rothenberg, Cedar Sigo, Paul Nelson, Lyn Hejinian, Andrew Schelling, Amy McClure, Jane McClure, and Joanna McClure.

This is a virtual event that will be hosted by City Lights on the Zoom platform. You will need access to a computer or other device that is capable of accessing the internet. If you have not used Zoom before, you may consider referencing Getting Started with Zoom.

———-

Event is free, but registration is required.

(Click Here) to register.

To Garrett’s article:

I’ve been an editor at City Lights for a dozen years, during which time I’ve worked with some Beat Generation greats: David Meltzer, Diane di Prima, Joanne Kyger. As a poet myself, I’ve considered it an education to watch such poets be poets as we worked on their manuscripts and they made demands about their presentation on the page. And so it happened with Michael McClure. I’d met Michael here and there, but I began to know him in 2013 when City Lights republished his revolutionary volume of “beast language” poetry, Ghost Tantras (1964). It wasn’t my project, editorially, but I used it as an excuse to interview him for the alt-weekly San Francisco Bay Guardian. READ MORE

Hear Michael McClure being interviewed in 1995.

The 15th year of the Poetry Postcard Fest is dedicated to the memory of Michael McClure and Diane di Prima. See: www.popo.cards or register at www.popo.submittable com

See also our online poetry postcard fest exhibit: https://www.poetrypostcardfestexhibit.org/

Posted in Blog | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment