Talk at North Cascades Institute

Habib & Paul at the grave of Jimi Hendrix

Habib & Paul at the grave of Jimi Hendrix

El Habib Louai concludes his tour of Cascadia on Thursday, August 15, 2013, at 7p as he talks to participants in this year’s Beats on the Peaks event, produced by the North Cascades Institute. Habib will speak about the Beat connection with Morocco and the constellation of the Moroccan artistic community during the years the Beats made their well-chronicled visits to that North African country. Habib is a Berber, teaches Agadir, Morocco, and is enjoying his first visit to the United States. He’s documenting it in his journal, in photographs and on Facebook.

Accompanying Habib, I was asked to share some of my thoughts about the Beats during this evening and I thought I would give you a preview. As I have interviewed many members of the movement, I will share four specific soundbites which I have used in workshops for many years and posted elsewhere on this blog. I’ll play the soundbites and speak to the importance of it for my own practice.

1. Allen Ginsberg: First Thought, Best Thought. Allen described this notion to me in our June 1994 interview. The basis of a spontaneous, open form, poetics, it is not well understood, but his description helps one better understand where he was coming from.

2. Anne Waldman, Andrew Schelling: Mind Writing Slogans. From an April 22, 2001 interview, Anne and Andrew discuss the pithy quotes that Allen collected over the years to add depth and diversity to his open form poetics. It also helps outline the lineage Allen saw as part of his own literary line.

3. Anne Waldman, Andrew Schelling: American Sentences. From the April 2001 interview they talk about the short form Allen invented based on haiku, but without the traditions of that form.

4. Michael McClure: Projective Verse. Michael discusses Charles Olson’s notion of spontaneous composition, which is more developed than Kerouac’s Spontaneous Bop Prosody and had guided him more in his own practice.

After cut three I plan to share one American Sentence from each of the years I have been practicing in a compilation specifically chosen for this occasion, with some link to the Beats in each sentence. (See the poems here.)

I’ll also read from the ongoing Pig War: & Other Songs of Cascadia which owes more to McClure’s practice and Olson’s Maximus Poems, but also to the West Coast North American approach to the serial poem.

I am grateful to the North Cascades Institute for their interest in El Habib Louai’s work and my work. I am also grateful to SICA, the Subud International Cultural Association and to the Seattle Office of Arts and Cultural Affairs for helping fund Habib’s visit to Seattle and to Subud Greater Seattle for hosting the talk at their Spring Street Center.

Sam Hamill reads part of Habitations to Habib

Sam Hamill reads part of Habitations to Habib

Habib and I visited Sam Hamill and his daughter Eron in Anacortes last night (8.11.13) & Sam gave Habib several books, and showed him the book Habitations, a remarkable work of book art by Ian Boyden. It is a huge series of original paintings with Sam’s poems laser-etched into the work. Hear part of Sam’s impromptu reading here.

Introduction to Habib’s talk, August 11, 2013, at Spring Street Center in Seattle. (3:18)

Habib’s Talk, Part 1 (19:57)

Habib’s Talk, Part 2 (22:20)

Q&A (21:00)

Habib reads with the Jim O'Halloran Quintet

Habib reads with the Jim O’Halloran Quintet

Habib reading Kerouacian Epiphanies in the Portland Greyhound Bus Station with the Jim O’Halloran Quintet, August 10, 2013 at Bradner Gardens (9:56)

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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1 Response to Talk at North Cascades Institute

  1. Judith Roche says:

    Wow. NCI has been all over my life recently. I just returned from a NCI Master’degree presentation (at Stehekin, not NCI) last night and got your email referencing NCI. The master’s degree presentaion was granddaughter Sahara delivering her paper to all her NCI professors and a group of young people she had just led on an 85 mile hike over to Stehekin. Sahara has been up there for a year doing her coursework for the Master’s and the younger grandaughter, Gabby, has worked in the kitchen up there all summer. And, we had a family reunion up there at NCI in June with all my Michigan family, 24 of us. It’s a terrific place and has become important to my family. I taught a one-day poetry workshop up there a few years ago.

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