A Time Before Slaughter

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From Matt Trease’s introduction:

That is to say, these “Other Songs of Cascadia,” composed in the decade since Slaughter, are not blunt appendages, or extra rooms tacked onto the same intellectual property, not a re-telling with bonus features. 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. Not repeating what was, they knot what is! Poetry need not romantically lament a lost reality, or limply critique hegemonic systems. As these poems teach us, poetry is always engaged in what Ramón Gomez de la Serna, whose comedic proto-surrealist aphorisms form a surface on which many of Nelson’s poems epigraphically hinge, articulated as “an extraordinary perception [by which] all pairs and even peers among things [become] involved in a sort of natural and fatal competition of desire which [alter] the whole humdrum surface of reality.” In these poems, Cascadia isn’t a lost place, an Atlantis, but an island, a “vast metaphor for concentration,” a place surrounded by sea, something potential always waiting to be spontaneously inhabited and made true…

— Matt Trease

(A Time Before Slaughter is) A wonderful piece of work. That form is nothing so simple-minded as “extension” of content – but they’re one thing inseparable. The “form” dances and changes continuously (like the river). It’s a fierce poem – beautiful & heart-breaking & dark & uplifting – “Slaughter” is a wonderful journey.

– Diane di Prima

Shortlisted for the Stranger’s 2010 Genius Award in Literature. Books editor Paul Constant said:  “They don’t get much more inventive than this…There are elegies, sonnets, prose poems, images, and even testy e-mail exchanges …forming a literary collage of a little city that usually escapes notice. Nelson brings a cacophony of voices together to form a chorus… In other words, he has built a city out of words. A city named Slaughter. And Auburn. It’s a brilliant achievement.”

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Paul reads the poem The End of One Slaughter from the book:

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Ordinary Madness podcast, interview by Steve Barker, May 1, 2012.

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Rain Taxi interview by Greg Bem. Page one. Page two.

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Recording of the October 21, 2010 Northwind Gallery reading, with Gary Lemons.

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August 2010 interview with Robin Carneen.

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Review & interview by Robert Whale in the Auburn Reporter, February 4, 2010.

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Paul Nelson’s epic Slaughter explores the history, mythology and ecology of a place, a meeting-ground for various cultural interchanges, both good and bad, in the tradition of Charles Olson’s Maximus Poems or W.C. Williams’ Paterson, but uniquely his own. It is a pleasure to read—enlightening, serious, funny, and overflowing with life.

—Sam Hamill

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A Time Before Slaughter reviewed by John Olson, Dec, ’09.

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A TIME BEFORE SLAUGHTER walks with great poetical ability the fine and difficult line between the political and the poetical: a fine line that in most poets leads to the political tract, which shortsells the poetical. Paul Nelson, on the contrary, manages to deal with today’s world, and its terrible pitfalls, with an eye on creation and not on cheap lamentation: it results in a book where neither poetry nor nature, nor life or history, are tamed; they are exalted, in all its complex reality, through a sustained poetical state that turns A TIME BEFORE SLAUGHTER into an authentic work of art.

José Kozer

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Video of some Slaughter poems taken at Subtext.

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Here’s one more big hunk of the American shoulder, as Olson carved his from the North East, Nelson takes his from the Pacific North West. It’s beautiful time-space in new words.

 

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Michael McClure

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Here is the urban Northwest as it was and as it will be. Read it and weep. And cheer. The poem will take you where the I-5 can’t go.

George Bowering

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