Cascadia Poetics LAB


Such sweet testimonials are coming in from participants in the recent Poetics as Cosmology course I facilitated, Oct-Nov 2020:

Paul E. Nelson’s “Poetics As Cosmology” course begins in a completely astounding way with a poem by Ed Dorn, “My Tribe.” If that is not enough to stop you in your tracks, what follows provides inroads and out roads from this seed sprout, this shake down. While Dorn would be embarrassed to be an initiator of such weight of purpose, he would also be so honored by Nelson leading “Poetics As Cosmology” and its  poetic investigation via the stance of the Black Mountain School with his poem.

Nelson helps all attendees to explore the possibilities of language, and especially the long poem as an embodiment of instruction in one’s own life. Course materials, discussions, and work-in-progress all contribute to a sense of participation in the mysteries of the creative process made real and “organic,” to use Levertov’s term. Knowing that Nelson’s course is dispatched from deep in the Cascadia bio-region makes it even better. How wonderful it is to be a part of this.

–Susan Kay Anderson, Fall 2020 Poetics as Cosmology participant

Expect to be surprised. Paul Nelson is a master at opening doors to fresh perspectives on poetry and your relationship with it. His Poetics As Cosmology workshop was challenging, fun, and inspiring. Paul is practically a living library of modern poetry whose depth of knowledge led me to explore readings and recordings of poets who were new to me as well as some I’d loved and forgotten.

The lessons and writing exercises offered insights into different poetic forms and the opportunity to experiment with them, each exercise like walking down a strange new street.  The first writing exercise, a cover of Ed Dorn’s “My Tribe”, blew the lid off any reluctance I had to explore my own mythology. And that was only the beginning. The discussions and laughter shared with Paul and other participants, and hearing some of their poetry, added an even deeper level of richness to the workshop. I came away more confident and more disciplined in how I work and play with my poetry. Highly recommended.

— Carol Keslar

I turned to Paul E Nelson and his introduction to spontaneous verse and poets in an attempt to to unlock some of the tightness in my own work. I appreciated Paul’s unique generosity and kindness as a person and teacher, his well researched lessons and the depth of knowledge of Cascadia region, poets and poetry. Paul would quote a verse or, without hesitation, pull a well read book off the shelf and read a relevant poem that illuminated a point he was making in the poet’s words. Taking the Cosmology Class helped me. A lot! Paul’s introduction to organic form helped me push myself out of my comfort zone.

~ Ingrid Bruck

I thoroughly enjoyed the Poetry as Cosmology class that Paul Nelson led. It brought my writing into unanticipated directions with American Sentences, Found poems, Cover poems and Acrostic poems. Reacquainting myself with Diane di Prima, Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, and Michael McClure was also an unexpected joy. And the camaraderie of the participants over Zoom added a lovely layer to my appreciation of the class during the time of the pandemic.

–Karen Loeb (Fiction writer, poet.
Former recent writer-in-residence–
City of Eau Claire, Wisconsin)