It was December 13, 1993, when It Plays in Peoria Productions was formed in Auburn, Washington. A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to, among other things: Injecting a Little Wisdom into the Information Age. We were started as an organization that existed to create public affairs programming for regional radio stations and, at our peak, we syndicated a weekly program to 18 stations. We created over 450 hours of original interview programming between 1993 and 2004.
In 1997 the Northwest SPokenword LAB was co-created by me (Paul Nelson) and recent arrival from Boulder, Danika Dinsmore. (See this note). We found a space (an abandoned store front) at 14 S. Division in a 100+ year old livery stable, which became our poetry center. Described by one visitor as “a center for culture in the bowels of Auburn” we hosted over 400 events between 1997 and 2004, including visits by Anne Waldman, Michael McClure, Andrew Schelling, Ethelbert Miller, Wanda Coleman, Ed Sanders, Eileen Myles, Diane diPrima, Victor Hernandez Cruz, Jerome Rothenberg and other legendary poets, a Teen Slam series which culminated in a team being taken (thanks to the Alhadeff Foundation) to San Francisco in 200, for the National Teen Poetry Slam Championships (which was the impetus to form a Youth Speaks chapter in Seattle, many workshops, critique circles, Red Cedar medicine circles and other events.
In 2009, SPLAB was re-launched in Seattle’s Columbia City neighborhood and the name of the organization was officially changed to SPokenword LAB (SPLAB). To see one season of activities, click here.
On January 18, 2014, at 7pm at the Spring Street Center at 15th & Spring in Seattle, we celebrate 20 years of spokenword activism and announce the headliners of our 2nd Cascadia Poetry Festival. You are welcome to attend.