The Future of Storytelling, Puebla, Mexico

Subud World Congress banner

Subud World Congress banner

This past August I had the good fortune to attend the 14th Subud World Congress in Puebla, Mexico, or the Congreso Mundial, as the locals called it. There are numerous stories I could tell about my experience and I have blogged about it. The fact is that the Congress experience facilitated a tremendous transformation with ramifications that continue to reveal themselves in a good way, but often with ramifications that require adeptness in all meanings of the word. Change can be hard but I have found that daily intention can guide one through all of life’s challenges.

The Future of Storytelling 2

One of the highlights of my work at the Congress was being the moderator of a panel on The Future of Storytelling. Susannah Rosenthal and Victor Margolin are two Subud members who helped to brainstorm this series of presentations, of which the one I moderated was only one in a series called the Conversation Cafe and presented under the auspices of the Subud International Cultural Association or SICA. The panel that I was given was eminently qualified and each panelist added their own angle on the issue at hand, with an understanding that we were talking with Subud members, but with ramifications for anyone who’d consider themselves a spiritual seeker or having a vibrant inner life. Michael McClure called it a Hunger for Liberation and I am partial to that phrase.

Here is what I wrote to set the tone for the panel:

In an age of unprecedented instability, with the climate system and capitalism showing signs of breakdown, how to we navigate the challenges inherent in life today? What is the story of our age? The poet/prophet William Blake knew that luminous details are at the core of all true storytelling and the internet and its capacity for spreading the news virally around the planet make our time potent for narratives that ring true with our massive economic disparity, issues of violence, race, gender and orientation and ecological uncertainty.

A panel of five artists who all approach narrative from widely different perspectives will give a short talk and discuss how they see the ancient art of storytelling evolving to communicate something deeper than the industry-generated culture to meet the deep needs of 21st century dwellers.

And thanks to Andrew Hall, here are videos of the panel broken down into 6 (large) bite-sized hunks, presented in chronological order, with your humble narrator introducing the panel and offering my ideas of how interviews and poetry can be used in a new way to meet the challenges of our time of whole-systems transition.

Part 3 – Matthew Cooke

Part 4 – Myrna Jelman

Part 5 – Honorah Foah

Part 6 – Question & Answer session

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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