Cascadia Dialog

May 12, 2015

The discussion I’d hoped for after the first and second Cascadia Poetry Festivals, is beginning to manifest in the wake of the 3rd iteration of the fest and the first in Canada. (Nanaimo, B.C. of all places!) This is evidenced by intelligent blog posts inspired by the recent fest in Nanaimo by two Canadian poets Susan McCaslin and Sean Arthur Joyce and one by Seattle’s own Angel Latterell.

Susan McCaslin

Susan McCaslin

We’ve added a section called Perspectives on the website and are tinkering with the blog there, including create a list that will go out with periodic news regarding the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the cultural investigation it has engaged. Susan’s piece is the first one and we welcome others. She gets the idea as evidenced by these words, among others:

The premise of the conference was that our common grounding in the land—in place—allows us to transcend political lines and demarcations; that as poets, we are part of the larger ecosystems that flow within and through us. David McCloskey, geographer, and founder of the Cascadia Institute, presented a map of Cascadia, decades in the making, delineating the geographic history of this bioregion. David spoke eloquently of how sea, land and sky form an integral unity.

Sean Arthur Joyce posts a more detailed review of the fest in which he gets to some pet themes of his, that postmodernism has hurt poetry, making it the activity of elites. He quotes Wendell Barry who said:

…this weakening of narrative in poetry—whether by policy, indifference or debility—may be one of the keys to what is wrong with us, both as poets and as people. It is indicative of a serious lack of interest, first, in action, and second, in responsible action.

I’ve engaged him on his blog and challenged his perspectives in a couple of instances, but go there to see:

And you may see some of MY pet threads referenced in my responses as well. His photos are marvelous and we are blessed to have the technology to make photos so accessible. Examples of his:

PEN by Sean Arthur Joyce Sam Hamill at CPF by Sean Arthur Joyce

Angel Latterell, who was indispensable with her volunteer coordinating for CPF 1 AND 2, checks in with two blog posts. The first has this nugget:

Poetry is an essential way to rethink and be as bioregion, rejecting the flat box of fake boundaries drawn on a flat map of lattitude and longitude squares. The box of the map prevents connection with the earth because it abstracts from the only things that are real (geology, hydrology, ecosystems) and thus bioregional thinking is one of the most subversive acts of this age (as it is not above political boundaries it simply does not even acknowledge them because they are not there), and a bioregional poetic not only emerges from this thought but must pre-date and help the science find a way to talk without box we’ve built it in. – See more at:

And some cool photos and the obligatory Nanaimo bar here:

Nice work. Thank you Angel.


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