Hugo House Write-O-Rama

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.

About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) in Seattle, the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the August POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). He has published a collection of essays, Organic Poetry & a serial poem re-enacting the history of Auburn, WA, A Time Before Slaughter (shortlisted for a 2010 Genius Award by The Stranger) and American Sentences, a book of 17 syllable poems drawn from the first fourteen of his 20 years of daily practice. The tenth anniversary edition of that book includes Pig War: & Other Songs of Cascadia. He’s interviewed Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Anne Waldman, Sam Hamill, Robin Blaser, Nate Mackey, Eileen Myles, George Bowering, Diane di Prima, Brenda Hillman, George Stanley, Joanne Kyger & many Cascadia poets (see: has presented his poetry and poetics in London, Brussels, Bothell, Cumberland, BC, Qinghai and Beijing, China, Lake Forest, Illinois, Ukiah, CA, and other places & writes an American Sentence every day.
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