Resist @ Cascadia

A theme developing at Cascadia Poetry Festivals, such as the one planned for Cumberland, BC, in September 2017, is one of the intersection of poetry and resistance. An event happening at Cascadia College April 27th continues this focus. And what better Cascadian to discuss this than Make It True poet Stephen Collis, who – in resisting the Kinder Morgan oil pipeline – had his own writing used against him in a court of law. Dig this:

Collis would be a good example of poetic resistance for ANY region ANYWHERE. My March 2017 interview with him gets into the details of how he turned this event into poetry, as any poet worth their salt would do. He is joined on a panel specifically about the Poetics of Resistance by Sarah Dowling (of nearby UW Bothell) and your humble narrator. Here is the poster for the April 27 event:

Notice the event as part of this series featuring Shin Yu Pai, another Make It True poet. The panel and much of this series is being organized by yet another Make It True poet, Jared Leising.

And what use is poetry in resisting the rampant gangsterism of our time? Good question. It may be true that only poets, and a few other freaks, actually read poetry these days. If few read it, how can it be a force of change; how can it be a serious aspect of resistance? Well, Kinder Morgan sure seemed a little freaked out by Collis and it may be true what Mallarme said: “Poetry is the language of a state of crisis.” While I honor Collis, admire his courage and commitment to a future free of fossil fuels, part of me also resonates with a quote attributed to Buckminster Fuller:

“You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

Therefore we must ask what is obsolete in our time and the dominoes begin to fall: capitalism, empire, allopathic/for-profit medicine, gender binaries, even the very nation states in which we live, empire or not. And once we, in accordance with whatever higher guidance we act upon in our own lives, we must make choices with huge ramifications for our own lives and the lives of all sentient beings. We are cursed with living in interesting times and the panel at Cascadia College will be bright and memorable.

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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