Pig War Poetry & Pictures

San Juan Poetry Walk Sponsors

San Juan Poetry Walk Sponsors

Although the gathered group was small, they were feisty enough to take on the fierce winds that greeted our Guided Poetry Walk at the American Camp on San Juan Island last Saturday (Apr 11, 2015). Mike Vouri, the expert on all things Pig War and longtime Park Service Ranger at the Camp invited me to come down and lead one of the walks given my seven year project has been completed and ready to share, if not yet published.

San Juan Poetry Walk

He introduced me at the trailhead and I started with a statement of my gratitude for being able to lead the walk, discussed the project I’d worked on and read the poem that opens the Pig War & Other Songs of Cascadia manuscript, an homage to the first people of this area. The poem is also a nod to my last book A Time Before Slaughter and is called Before Pigs.

20150411_121654We started the walk and I had taken some photos when looking the route over before the reading and got a few during. When the winds got very fierce, we went behind Glacial Erratics, giant boulders left by the movement of glaciers. Once we went into a ditch that had been dug to repel the feared invasions of British soldiers that never came. One poem I read was an homage to energetic medicine (Alaskan flower essences) and local flowers, Shooting Star, Death Camas, Chocolate Lily among them, some of which we saw on the walk. It was that poem that was excerpted by the San Juan County Land Bank, co-sponsors of the series.

Photo by Chris Clarke

Photo by Chris Clarke

Between stops for poems, I engaged with different folks who’d come for the walk and the poems. The whole project came across to me as one steeped in a very rich sense of community and maybe that’s a benefit of living on an island. Regardless, it was great to read these poems inspired by an event that happened on the very spot we were gathered. The Pig War is part of the rich (and recent) history of Cascadia and that the only casualty was a pig says a lot about our part of the world.


Shooting Star


Death Camas

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Mike Vouri, Paul Nelson

Mike Vouri, Paul Nelson

About Splabman

Paul Nelson is founder of SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) in Seattle, the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the August POetry POstcard Fest (PoPo). www.POPO.cards. 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: https://paulenelson.com/americanprophets/) 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. www.PaulENelson.com
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