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A Time Before Slaughter: Featuring Pig War & Other Songs of Cascadia

A Time Before Slaughter Featuring Pig War and Other Songs of Cascadia Book Cover

By Paul E. Nelson

In this epic poem, Paul Nelson re-enacts the history of Auburn, Washington, originally known as the town of Slaughter. Written in the spirit of William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, and Michael McClure, A Time Before Slaughter explores the history of this Northwestern place from the myths of Native people to the xenophobia toward Japanese-Americans, from the urge to control to the hunger for liberation. Set against the backdrop of a towering dormant volcano (Mt. Rainier), the beauty of the verse pays homage to the beauty of the place. “Here’s one more big hunk of the American shoulder,” said poet Michael McClure. “As Olson carved his from the North East, Nelson takes his from the Pacific North West. It’s beautiful time-space in new words.”

“…If the original Slaughter reads like an archeological elegy for a past consciousness virally erased by settler ‘Dominism, ‘ the extended book turns that on its head, and lends us new instruments with which to re-inhabit place… Poetry need not romantically lament a lost reality, or limply critique hegemonic systems… In these poems, Cascadia isn’t a lost place, an Atlantis, but an island, a ‘vast metaphor for concentration…’ something potential always waiting to be spontaneously inhabited and made true.”
–Matt Trease