Poetics as Cosmology

Poetics as Cosmology
(Intro to Spontaneous Composition)


A six week online (Zoom) workshop for people who have had a little experience in spontaneous poetry composition and want more. Join SPLAB and POPO Co-Founder Paul E Nelson in a lively course designed to start where the poetry postcard fest left off and help you understand how to tap into deeper levels of knowing that can begin inform your non-writing life. Some theory to understand the poetics of 20th/21st c approaches to spontaneous composition, some writing exercises, discussion, a one-on-one session and, for the inspired, between class homework. The work of Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Nate Mackey, Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser and others may be discussed along with concepts such as seriality, investigative poetics & how to write more by reducing your reliance on editing.

Sundays starting October 4 through Nov 15, 2020, 4pm PDT. 2 hours including one-on-one sessions outside of class time.

Cost – $125 (Some scholarships available at a reduced price.)

Limit – 15 participants.

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POPO Birthday Bounty

I’m a little stunned by the amount of birthday wishes I am getting for my 59th and it seems a perfect day to share THE CARDS I GOT. Each year I create a photo or video of postcards I have received during the August POetry POstcard Fest. This year a couple of get well cards, a couple of other postcards I got outside POPO & one chapbook are included in the bounty. I am glad I wanted until today as CARDS ARE STILL COMING IN!

The video of all those I received is here:

& there was:

& Debbie & Ricardo:

& Michael Cooke:



And my Mom the mask maker, with HER mom the Espiritista and ME:

Count me overwhelmed, humbled, almost speechless and grateful. As always, feel free to let people know about POPO: www.POPO.cards.

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COVID-19 Sonnet

Since the beginning of 2019 I have been writing “prose sonnets” Matt Trease calls them. 14 line prose poems often with an epigraph and sometimes three. I saw the form first in the work of Jack Clarke, who was at SUNY-Buffalo for many years and felt I had to try that. I am calling the series Sonetos de Cascadia and I’ve written 52 of them so far.

Thanks to Jami Macarty and Susan Zakin, one of those prose sonnets, from March, is now published at the beautiful Journal of the Plague Year website and there is an intelligent context into which the poem is placed. Dig:

Birds. Music. The nature of art. They converge in Paul Nelson’s , a poem we’re reading over and over.

Nelson invokes Federico Garcia Lorca’s notion of duende. We included an excerpt from Lorca’s unforgettable rant on the subject and a reading of one of Lorca’s foundational poems by Philip Levine, plus an eclectic, gypsy-inspired playlist.

Nelson, Levine, Lorca. The lineage stretches back, yet each poet is essential to our present moment, telling us that art and politics are not mutually exclusive, but, as the Hollywood executives used to say, synergistic.

Oh, yeah. What’s this duende? It can’t be explained, not really. You have to feel it. But read Lorca.

Though the formatting does not present the poem in 14 lines, you still get what I’m talking about and I think a consideration of the duende is part of our challenge/opportunity of this lockdown time. Having just returned from a visit with Red Pine in Port Townsend, I was reminded that the lockdown is a tremendous opportunity for self-discovery since the lockdown is removing, or making more difficult, many of our distractions. He says we may not get another chance like this in our lifetime. We shared this discussion while on his daily walking route about town and then we watched baseball and polished off two bottles of Wind of the Woods saké. Do I contradict myself? I guess so.

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Article on American Sentences

Huge thanks (again) to Tim Green of Rattle Magazine who wrote about my practice of American Sentences for The Press-Enterprise in Riverside, California. The article is called:

I love how Tim changes the narrative from a capitalist point of view relating a personal encounter:

…the future of poetry is in its production, not its consumption. It matters not that poetry is read so much as that it’s written. It’s the process of writing a poem that’s most rewarding — that pause involved in stopping to look beneath the surface of our experiences and poke at the cracks in our understandings. When we get into the habit of doing that, our world becomes a richer place.

Fundamentally, a poem is the act of someone noticing. As linguistic creatures, we were designed to notice and to name, and so poetry will always be central to what it means to be human…

Thanks Tim.

Timothy Green (editor of Rattle magazine & co-founder of Wrightwood Literary Festival. Photo by David Bauman, The Press-Enterprise/SCNG)

Some news about that book is that there will be a second edition scheduled to be published in Fall 2021, again by Apprentice House, with highlights from 20 years of practice if I make it through 2020 with at least one American Sentence per day. Inshallah.

Does that make the current edition a collector’s item?

Buy the book, $11.99.

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