Poetry Postcard Fest: A Tribute to di Prima and McClure

For Immediate Release June 28, 2021

SPLAB’s 15th Annual Poetry Postcard Fest:
A Tribute to di Prima and McClure

Registration for the 15th Poetry Postcard Fest ends July 18, 2021 at popo.submittable.com The fest in 2020 featured 544 participants from 11 countries, 47 states and 3 Canadian provinces. In 2021 the fest will honor legendary poets Diane di Prima and Michael McClure. www.popo.cards.

The Poetry Postcard Fest process is simple. Participants register online for a nominal fee. Starting July 4, registered participants receive a list of 32 registered poets. Participants agree to compose and send to another poet on the list an original poem composed on a postcard, delivered by regular mail.

Two poets who had tremendous influence on USAmerican culture and poetry in the second half of the 20th century, both died in 2020, were good friends to each other and each had an influence on the Poetry Postcard Fest.

Diane di Prima, whose work with the Diggers had her at the forefront of a very active San Francisco counter-culture in the thick of the 60s and 70s, working with the Diggers alongside such members as Peter Berg, who is the prime force behind the notion of bioregionalism, a huge influence in our work. She came to the Auburn SPLAB on one occasion to give a reading (where she read her remarkable and prescient poem Rant) be interviewed, and to conduct a workshop.

Michael McClure participated in several SPLAB events, starting with being interviewed in October 1995 and extolling the wisdom of Projective Verse: aka Composition by Field. McClure, a member of the Beat Generation which he called the “Literary Wing of the Environmental Movement.” More on di Prima and McClure is available here: https://www.poetrypostcardfestexhibit.org/tribute

An essay about the fest and its debt to the aestheic of Black Mountain College can be read here: http://www.blackmountainstudiesjournal.org/nelson-lee-postcards/

An online gallery, which debuted this year can be viewed here: https://www.poetrypostcardfestexhibit.org

SPLAB is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in December 1993by poet Paul E Nelson. www.splab.org and based in Seattle, WA.

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Poetry Postcard Fest Orientation

Poetry Postcard Fest Orientation

10am PDT, this Saturday, June 19, 2021. Make sure YOU are ready, or tell a poet friend about the joy of summer poetry postcards as SPLAB presents an orientation for the 15th Poetry Postcard Fest, which is accepting registrants at www.popo.submittable.com

See also: https://popo.cards/2021/06/07/postcard-orientation/

Hosted by Fest Co-Founder, Paul E Nelson, history, basic info and good tips for fest participation will be provided. We hope to see you and encourage you to tell friends about this long-running self-guided spontaneous composition and community-building workshop. Zoom Link: https://us02web.zoom.us/s/2064225002

Paul will also discuss the online workshop series and plans for the Fall series, designed for people who have participated in the fest, or who have interest in living the life of a writer 24/7 as Anne Waldman urged in a SPLAB workshop in 2000 at the old SPLAB in Auburn, WA.

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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

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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.

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