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. 



About Splabman

Poet & interviewer Paul E Nelson founded SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) & the Cascadia Poetry Festival. Since 1993, SPLAB has produced hundreds of poetry events & 600 hours of interview programming with legendary poets & whole systems activists including Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Joanne Kyger, Robin Blaser, Diane di Prima, Daphne Marlatt, Nate Mackey, George Bowering, Barry McKinnon, José Kozer, Brenda Hillman & many others. Paul’s books include American Prophets (interviews 1994-2012) (2018) American Sentences (2015) A Time Before Slaughter (2009) and Organic in Cascadia: A Sequence of Energies (2013). Co-Editor of Make It True: Poetry From Cascadia (2015), 56 Days of August: Poetry Postcards (2017) and Samthology: A Tribute to Sam Hamill (2019) Make it True meets Medusario (2019), he’s presented poetry/poetics in London, Brussels, Nanaimo, Qinghai & Beijing, China, has had work translated into Spanish, Chinese & Portuguese & writes an American Sentence every day. Awarded a residency at The Lake, from the Morris Graves Foundation in Loleta, CA, he’s published work in Golden Handcuffs Review, Zen Monster, Hambone, and elsewhere. Winner of the 2014 Robin Blaser Award from The Capilano Review, he is engaged in a 20 year bioregional cultural investigation of Cascadia and lives in Rainier Beach, in the Cascadia bioregion’s Cedar River watershed.
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