(Streaming) Lyric World Conversations with Koon Woon


I was delighted to be part of an event that features a local poet who has been part of the Seattle literary scene for many years and is finally getting some local recognition. Koon Woon moved to Washington from a village near Canton, China, when he was eleven in 1960. He earned a BA from Antioch University Seattle and also studied with Nelson Bentley. The author of The Truth in Rented Rooms and Water Chasing Water,  he lived for over a decade in the International District, only to be displaced due to gentrification.

This last point is critical because the theme of the evening is related to what Koon has been through in many ways. To do interviews live on stage is a tough gig, but talking to Koon about poetry and displacement, will be easier than most live interview assignments. I am grateful to Shin Yu Pai for asking me to conduct the interview and delighted Paul Kikuchi is on the bill to provide music. If you have not been to the newly renovated Town Hall Forum venue, it is gorgeous. (The recent MLA off-site reading was there in January.)

BUT COVID-19 FEARS HAVE RELEGATED THIS EVENT TO A LIVE STREAM, FRIDAY, MARCH 20, 2020 at 7pm. (See: https://townhallseattle.org/live/)

Koon Woon is a real poet. He’s not someone who writes a poem once a month and then submits it 400 times until it is published. He reads like a motherfucker, has incredible surprise mind, draws on his rich Chinese heritage and has used the practice of poetry to pull himself out of severe mental illness. From The Truth in Rented Rooms:

……………………………………….It took ten years and the destruction of
6′ x 4′ x 4′ or 96 cubic feet of poetry and 10 years to make me feel better.

I hope you’ll join me in honoring this local poet and literary legend.

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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