3rd Cascadia Poetry Festival

Vancouver Island University, Nanaimo

NANAIMO, BC – The Cascadia Poetry Festival is coming to Nanaimo.  The third in an annual festival series that originated in 2012 in Seattle, CPF3-2015 is expected to bring more than four-hundred visitors to eat, sleep and soak up some great poetry in this Vancouver Island city.

Cascadia began as the brain-child of poet and arts activist Paul Nelson, through an organization called SPLAB (the Seattle Poetics Laboratory). It started out small, with about one hundred poets and attendees from both sides of the border. By its second bout in 2014 that number had quadrupled.  Canadian poets have participated from the outset, but this will be the first time the CPF has come to Canada.

As the CPF website (www.cascadiapoetryfestival.org) makes clear, this is a festival born with a visionary concept – an international festival that seeks to “bioregionally animate and culturally construct” Cascadia by gathering writers, artists and scientists to “collaborate, discover and foster deeper connection between inhabitants and the place itself.” Cascadia, as defined by writer and scientist David McCloskey, is the bioregion that stretches “in a great curving arc from Northern California to southeast Alaska—a vast swath which also includes Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and more than half of British Columbia.”

Accessibility is a key value for this festival. A Gold Pass to four days of readings, panels and discussions costs $25 and only $10 for students. The four scheduled workshops aren’t covered by the pass but, at $60, they are a literary bargain. You can buy your tickets on the CPF website. The schedule is already posted on the website too, and bios of the forty-two participating poets from both sides of the border. And, of course, you can volunteer! 

The Cascadia Poetry Festival creates a special ambiance, says CPF3-2015 Co-Chair, Vancouver Island poet David Fraser.  “It brings together people who want to be part of the important conversation about our rich, trans-national community.”

The informal mingling at CPF is as important as the panels and performances, Fraser says. “We create time and space for people to sit and talk about what Cascadia really means to us.”

Lantzville poet and publisher, Ursula Vaira, writes about Cascadia in her book about kayaking through the region – and see what happens, published by Caitlin Press in 2011. Two of the couplets in her extended poem, Frog River, say this:

Perfectly still, river becomes mountains
becomes cloud.

Canoe becomes bird.
the hollow bone.

Vaira will be part of the CPF3-2015 lineup—a lineup that brings together emerging and established poets. One of the featured participants, Brenda Hillman, won the 2014 Griffin Poetry Prize. 

CPF3-2015 is forging a relationship between area poets and local businesses, schools, Vancouver Island University and the City of Nanaimo—everyone helping to make the festival a success and to highlight the area’s strength as a community of poets and writers. There were four-hundred attendees at Seattle’s CPF, held in May of this year. CPF3-2015 organizers are hoping to match or better that.

Taking the lead in festival organizing is a small Nanaimo-based arts society called “WordStorm” (www.wordstorm.ca) – a dynamic group of writers who run monthly Spoken Word performances in local cafés (currently the Vault Café on Nanaimo’s Wallace Street). CPF3 co-chair, Fraser, is also WordStorm’s artistic director and president.

“Spreading the word that Nanaimo is not only a gorgeous place, but also a major arts destination is one of the city’s key strategic goals,” Fraser remarks.  “It is gratifying that a small, volunteer group of poets is helping to manifest that message.” 

Check it all out here: www.cascadiapoetryfestival.org

Find us on Facebook for news and updates: Cascadia Poetry Festival

To sponsor or volunteer, contact David Fraser at ascentaspirations@gmail.com

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Marion Kimes Memorial Video, Red Sky Ethos

pen at MK Memorial

Paul E Nelson emcees the memorial for Red Sky Doyenne Marion Kimes, July 27, 2014 at Spring Street Center.

Thanks to the heroic efforts of cameraman and videographer Tom Prince, video of the Marion Kimes Memorial, Sunday July 27, at the Spring Street Center is now online.

Marion Kimes

Marion Kimes

Thank you Tom and to Phoebe Bosche, Scott Martin and all those who helped make this event possible.

Bless you Marion Kimes for your commitment to poetry and the Red Sky community. We will never forget what you did and who you were.

P.S. Added August 21, 2014. I asked Paul Hunter for permission to publish an excerpt of his presentation at the memorial. I was interested in the unspoken ethos of Red Sky which became spoken at the July memorial. Here is part of what he wrote:

Here’s the list between us that grew around Red Sky.

–We’ll play special attention to one among us this evening.

–We will also always have an open mike.  Because that’s what this is really about.

–We’ll all be asked for a donation, because that’s how the larger world keeps score, and is an acknowledgement that we all have to keep body and soul together.  And that we’ll try to take care of each other.  But no one will be turned away or shamed because they couldn’t come up with two bucks.

–Every poet or writer will get an introduction, and a hearing.

–Everybody will be expected and asked to keep their own time, and to adhere to a time limit.

–And last, it’s about the words, not costume or makeup or special props.  As with Shakespeare, the theater is the words.  Aside from that, anything goes.

Those assumptions were sorely tested over the years.  I have noticed that there has been a bit of scrambling to take credit for the birth and early doings of Red Sky, and want to clarify something.  Marion Kimes was the earth angel to this reluctant community.  A lot of things got done, and a lot of things got tried, by a lot of people who thought they graduated from Red Sky and moved on beyond it.  Some of them must have thought of Red Sky as some kind of loser’s club, since it couldn’t help but attract and try to welcome some troubled souls who were in no condition to return the favor.  After all, who else would take them seriously?  Not colleges and universities, not arts commissions, not the mental health professionals, not the so-called business community.  Some of those troubled souls healed and moved away, and some healed and stayed.  And some never healed but gave it all their best try.  But what Red Sky grew into and became was in great part due to Marion’s guidance, her backseat driving, her function as the token grownup in the room.

Let me boil the lessons down, tell you what we were trying to learn.

Look at your audience.  Treat them with respect.  Deliver the goods.  Don’t explain or excuse yourself.  Keep your own time, and be ruthlessly honest about it.  Realize that applause among friends may be a polite acknowledgment, but is nothing compared to the silence of a room full of people hanging on every word.

So listen to your audience, to what they laugh at, what they sigh over, what makes them fidget and cough, and what makes the whole room go quiet.  Be open to what they say to you, and what they don’t say.  Know the difference between a confessional and a therapy session and a work of art, how art has to transform whatever materials it is given, into something fresh and surprising, beautiful and true. 



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Cascadia Raining Man

From Cascadia Now:



Welcome! We’d like to invite you, your group or organization to our first ever Cascadia Rainingman festival, happening in the foothills of the Cascade mountains near Concrete, WA August 29th – September 1st

**Please share with anyone who may be interested!**

Even if you or your organization can’t make it, you’re getting this email because you are a great group, related to Cascadia in some way, and we’d love to offer you space to share any pamphlets, zines, or information you’d like (we can work out a way either to take it up for you, or get it printed out if it’s in digital format).

During the day will be presentations, skillshares, workshops, discussions, and debriefs, with art happening throughout the weekend, and live music each night.

Saturday will focus on Cascadia as it exists now. We want to give room for organizations and individuals to discuss key issues facing our region, debrief recent actions, and share knowledge that people find important.

Sunday will focus on Cascadia tomorrow! and have more general open discussion time geared for meeting, organizing, and planning for the future.

Throughout the weekend we’ll also have a schedule of workshops and skillshares hosted around the farm and more generally focused.

More than anything, we just want to create a space that brings together Cascadians for an awesome weekend. Ticket prices are a suggested donation of $35. No one will be turned away however.

There is still room for presentations, skillshares and workshops. Music lineup, presentations, registration and proposal submissions on the mainpage: http://rainingman2014.org

Tables for displaying information are also available.

RSVP on facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/events/696805300394540/

All the best,

Brandon Letsinger

CascadiaNow! is a grass-roots movement dedicated to raising awareness of Cascadia, to highlight our growing regional identity, and to celebrate the distinct social, geographic and cultural aspects that make the Pacific Northwest unique.


More information at: http://cascadianow.org

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Stop Tar Sands

Jun. 29, 2014

Dear Enpipeliners and Friends,

As many of you know, on Jun. 17, the Canadian government approved Enbridge’s Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline. Some of us may experience grief. Although the approval is a step backwards, we also know that Enbridge does not plan to begin construction for another 12-15 months.

From 2010-12 you helped build the Enpipe Line, 70,000+ kilometres of poetry written in resistance to the Enbridge tar sands pipeline proposal. Since the release of the Enpipe Line:

  • You’ve helped raise thousands of dollars for an Ecojustice anti-pipeline lawsuit against the Canadian government–a lawsuit that was won.

  • You’ve built community and raised awareness at events across North America.

  • University students in Canada and the U.S. are learning about grassroots resistance to tar sands development and climate pollution by studying the Enpipe Line. Currently, the poem is being studied by a number of doctoral students too.

We hope you’re proud of your contribution and thank you for opposing the pipeline. The fight to protect the B.C. coast and our shared climate continues. Enbridge needs to bring First Nations and the majority of British Columbians who oppose Northern Gateway on side. A win based on support for the pipeline is unlikely, but that doesn’t mean Enbridge won’t continue to try to ram the project through clear majority opposition.

We see value in creative, grassroots campaigns that keep Enbridge and its attempt to mask the threat posed by its pipeline top of mind. People of all ages and walks of life oppose the pipeline, so we want to to keep the collaboration alive within our diverse Enpipe Line community.

Will you join us in continued creative resistance by pledging monthly action? We’ve set up a survey to help assess what our group looks like and which projects we’ll be able to pull off with greatest success. To keep collaborating, visit https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/998GFJYand let us know what works best for you by Jul. 8. Please feel free to share this invitation with anyone who might be interested, or keep us posted about any creative projects that you’re working on.

To big ideas for a safe coast and stable climate!


The Enpipe Line Editors

Jen Currin, Jordan Hall, Ray Hsu, Christine Leclerc, Melissa Sawatsky and Daniel Zomparelli

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