Cascadia Poetics LAB


Hugo House held its fun fundraiser, Write-O-Rama yesterday, adding a third time per year that they offer mini-workshops from teachers that usually teach, or have taught at RHH. I have participated many times and had hoped to get a blog post about it done before yesterday, but such is the life of an expectant Dad. (Mer is due now in 6 days.)

It feels as if there is a cultural shift underway at Hugo House, with Tree Swenson about to take the helm. By the time I arrived, 2:15 or so, the crowds had died down a bit and the energy a little muted, but still good. Angel Latterell was volunteering AGAIN and had volunteered earlier in the day in her sangha. Funny, I had been present for an opening of two candidates at the Subud House earlier myself. Board President John Burgess was in the house and I gave him and Angel their brand new Cascadia laminates, though Angel asked me to hang on to hers.

Cascadia Poetry Festival

I was slated to facilitate two different workshops. The first was History in Verse. I created a new handout for that, linked here: There is much to cover in such a presentation & 50 minutes to create a sense of openness, determine the range of poetry fluency in the group’s individual participants and bring it all home with an exercise that they can find of use. I think this may have been a little ambitious and when I heard one participant complaining about the short Duo Corpse exercise: “this is hard” I knew I was slogging uphill, but you can put it out there and hope someone gets something out of it. That some seed is planted. I discussed Pound, Olson, Williams, Joanne Kyger’s H.P. Blavatsky chapbook, Ed Sanders and a bit of my own Slaughter. I had folks read some of Kyger’s poem and pointed out how the abstractions are earned with luminous details. (The priest’s burning robes and how Blavatsky subsisted for a time on oatmeal.) I had some stories from to hand out, but I got the sense people were in a fog as to how to proceed. Such is the case of trying something very ambitious in a short workshop. 50 minutes for crying out loud! I got a start on a poem that would fit in quite well to the Cascadia effort.

The second workshop was on American Sentences and it’s one of my strengths as a workshop facilitator because: 1) I have taught this workshop for 10 years, 2) I have written one American Sentence every day for over 11 years and 3) There are not a lot of people teaching or practicing this form. Certainly not well, as far as I have seen. It was irreverent and fun and one of the sentences I left in the handout was a bit ribald, but what the hell? An auto accident at Pine & 11th happened just before I sent participants outside to harvest a couple of American Sentences. One of mine:

3.3.12 – Truck driver in crash works for Community Services for the Blind.

One participant had taken both of my classes and was inspired by the range of the offerings. I told her that you can judge a writer by their range. She said she’s interested in Denise Levertov and I suggested she visit Denise’s grave at Lakeview Cemetery.

I began each workshop with thanks for folks supporting Hugo House and that they should consider taking a course there. Write-O-Rama is but just a taste of the goodness that can be had from many teachers there. I also have no plans to facilitate workshops there in the near future, but love the energy and vibe of Write-O-Rama.