Poetics as Cosmology

Poetics as Cosmology
(Intro to Spontaneous Composition)

A six week online (Zoom) workshop for people who have had a little experience in spontaneous poetry composition and want more. Join SPLAB and POPO Co-Founder Paul E Nelson in a lively course designed to start where the poetry postcard fest left off and help you understand how to tap into deeper levels of knowing that can begin inform your non-writing life. Some theory to understand the poetics of 20th/21st c approaches to spontaneous composition, some writing exercises, discussion, a one-on-one session and, for the inspired, between class homework. The work of Charles Olson, Denise Levertov, Michael McClure, Wanda Coleman, Nate Mackey, Robert Duncan, Robin Blaser and others may be discussed along with concepts such as seriality, investigative poetics & how to write more by reducing your reliance on editing.

Sundays starting October 4 through Nov 15, 2020, 4pm PDT. 2 hours including one-on-one sessions outside of class time.

Cost – $125 (Some scholarships available at a reduced price.)

Limit – 15 participants.

Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6

TESTIMONIALS

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

Paul Nelson’s Poetics as Cosmology course was resonant and revelatory. I appreciated Paul’s high expectations for engagement. The workload was significant, and pushed me to meet the material: to engage with the demanding readings, to write a lot each week, and to make space in my life for artist dates. Paul pushed me to live as an artist: all-in, lit up, senses sharp, aware of life’s richness and magic. The experience felt like much more than a weeks-long, online course. It felt like a door onto something very good.

– Laura King, Fall 2020 Poetics as Cosmology participant

Paul Nelson’s organic poetry workshops are less a class than a journey, leading the participant not only to an ingeniously natural method of writing, but to the living energy of the poem itself. And he does this all with humor, profound inclusion and deep knowledge about organic verse, its origins with the Beats & Black Mountain school and its profound applicability to today’s poets. If you want to learn how to clip the strings of your mental editor and free your lines to run where they really want to, take this course.

– Rob Lewis, 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, Fall 2020 Poetics as Cosmology participant

How is a stance toward writing poetry a model for living one’s life? How can the act of writing spontaneously deepen one’s intuition/guidance/connection to one’s more noble self? In six weeks we’ll investigate several post WWII stances toward spontaneous composition, read essays, poems, engage in writing exercises, discussion and have related outside-of-class activities suggested to deepen one’s relation to this stance.

Ideally participants would read materials in advance of the regular session and come ready to discuss.

Week One, October 3-4, 2020

Recommended essays:

Organic Poetry

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/69393/the-poem-as-a-field-of-action

Projective Verse (Charles Olson, 1950)

Some Notes on Organic Form (Denise Levertov, 1965)

Writing exercise: https://paulenelson.com/workshops/tribe-exercise/

Homework to be done AFTER week one and BEFORE week two:

Write down sixteen words that relate to your own personal mythology that are SIGHT-oriented. Do not use abstractions and use the most specific term. Instead of FLOWER, perhaps it’s HOLLYHOCK. Do make this exercise a meditation.

Take yourself on an ARTIST’S DATE, going solo, to a cultural event (if possible) or watch an art film or live JAZZ CONCERT online (the Villagevanguard.com is streaming) OR go to do a health experience you have never done, or have not done in a while, such as Community Acupuncture, Massage, Reiki, or go to a Tarot Card reader, psychic, something of that nature. You can write a poem about the experience if so inclined.

For week two, bring 9 postcard poems, or 9 poems of about sonnet length.

Week Two, October 10-11, 2020

Questions, comments, criticisms, rebuttals.

Recommended essays:

https://dces.wisc.edu/wp-content/uploads/sites/128/2013/08/Where-You-At-Quiz.pdf (Do you know what bioregion you live in? What watershed? What native land?)

What is Consciousness?

Denise Levertov – On The Function of the Line

https://paulenelson.com/organic-poetry/organic-poetry/

https://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/Spanish/LorcaDuende.php

Discuss writer’s date, share poems.

Writing exercise: https://paulenelson.com/workshops/berrigan-sonnet-collage-exercise/

Homework to be done AFTER week two and BEFORE week three:

Write down sixteen words that relate to your own personal mythology that are TASTE-oriented. Do not use abstractions and use the most specific term. Instead of FISH, perhaps it’s HAMACHIKAMA. Do make this exercise a meditation.

Take yourself on an ARTIST’S DATE, going solo, to a cultural event (if possible) or watch an art film or live JAZZ CONCERT online (the Villagevanguard.com is streaming) OR go to do a health experience you have never done, or have not done in a while, such as Community Acupuncture, Massage, Craniosacral Therapy, Reiki, or go to a Tarot Card reader, psychic, something of that nature. You can write a poem about the experience if so inclined.

You may choose to watch this film The Line has Shattered: ($5.00 fee). Let me know if this is cost prohibitive.

Take the start you had with the Berrigan Collage Exercise and write 9 more 12-14 line poems, with at least TWO that are collaged. You may want to write poems AFTER this group if you find some energy there.

Week Three, October 17-18, 2020

Questions, comments, criticisms, rebuttals.

Recommended essays:

https://paulenelson.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/Larry-Dossey-Editorial-Tikkun-The-One-Mind-2018.pdf

On Theloniousism by Wanda Coleman.

August 2012 Nate Mackey Interview.

Discuss writer’s date, share poems.

Writing exercise: Phrase Acrostic. (Extra credit if you can use an original American Sentence as the phrase.)

Homework to be done AFTER week three and BEFORE week four:

Write down sixteen words that relate to your own personal mythology that are SOUND-oriented. Do not use abstractions and use the most specific term. Instead of MUSIC, perhaps it’s Baritone Sax, Redwing or “Naima.” Do make this exercise a meditation.

Take yourself on an ARTIST’S DATE, going solo, to a cultural event (if possible) or watch an art film or live JAZZ CONCERT online (the Villagevanguard.com is streaming) OR go to do a health experience you have never done, or have not done in a while, such as Community Acupuncture, Massage, Craniosacral Therapy, Reiki, or go to a Tarot Card reader, psychic, something of that nature. You can do a reading for yourself at www.Facade.com. Try the Runes, my go-to divination. You can write a poem about the experience if so inclined. Maybe look at a video from the Cascadia Poetry Fest on Youtube.

Take the start you had with the Berigan Sonnet Exercise and write 9 more 12-14 line poems, with at least TWO that are collaged. You may want to write poems AFTER this group if you find some energy there, vamping from what you have written. Perhaps use the alluvial method as Michael McClure employed in”Dolphin Skull.”

Week Four, October 24-25, 2020

Questions, comments, criticisms, rebuttals.

Recommended essays:

On sale for Poetics as Cosmology participants for a limited time.

Land, Earth, Soil, Dirt: Some Notes Towards a Sense of Place by Tom Jay (Book with this essay discounted for workshop participants now. Click the book cover image.)

Read Allen Ginsberg’s – Mind Writing Slogans.

Listen to 2002 Eileen Myles interview. (AT LEAST cuts 15 and 16.)

Listen to Diane di Prima read Rant.

Discuss writer’s date, share poems.

Writing exercise: HAIBUN.

Homework to be done AFTER week FOUR and BEFORE week FIVE:

Write down sixteen words that relate to your own personal mythology that are TOUCH-oriented. Do not use abstractions and use the most specific term. Instead of fabric, perhaps it’s FLANNEL or SILK. Do make this exercise a meditation.

Write at least three Haibun. You could write this after your Artist’s Date or any kind of trip outside the house these days. Try to keep the haiku part haiku length. If you like the Berrigan Collage Sonnets, go with that.

Take yourself on an ARTIST’S DATE, going solo, to a cultural event (if possible) or watch an art film or live JAZZ CONCERT online (the Villagevanguard.com is streaming) OR go to do a health experience you have never done, or have not done in a while, such as Community Acupuncture, Massage, Craniosacral Therapy, Reiki, or go to a Tarot Card reader, psychic, something of that nature. You can do a reading for yourself at www.Facade.com. Try the Runes, my go-to divination. Maybe look at a video from the Cascadia Poetry Fest on Youtube. You could listen to my Spotify playlist “Not Technically Blues.” You can write a poem about the experience if so inclined or use the playlist as background to write. Or, as mentioned in the Saturday Week 3 workshop, try Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington.

Week Five, October 31-November 1, 2020

Questions, comments, criticisms, rebuttals.

Recommended reading:

Anne Waldman on Counterpoetics and Oppositional Action.

Anne Waldman – Oppositional Poetics 1:59 (audio from 2002 interview.)

Fred Moten – The Undercommons (See: THIS and THIS.) If you are inspired, the pdf for the book The Undercommons is here.

Your humble narrator when he was young(er) reading some American Sentences and other poems at Subtext:

Fred Wah – Intro to: Music at the Heart of Thinking

This on the recently-departed Diane di Prima is worth reading. (Forgive the typo that would have the LSD guru being identified with a much-vilified cow in Chicago.)

Try also: https://www.journaloftheplagueyear.ink/blog/diane-di-prima-a-poet-s-obituary

Discuss writer’s date, share poems.

Writing exercise: Erasure poem. Here is the link to MY workshop exercise handout. Also see:THIS and THIS and THIS. Maybe THIS too.

Homework to be done AFTER week FIVE and BEFORE week SIX:

Write down sixteen words that relate to your own personal mythology that are SMELL-oriented. Do not use abstractions and use the most specific term. Instead of fabric, perhaps it’s FLANNEL or SILK. Do make this exercise a meditation.

Write at least three Haibun. You could write this after your Artist’s Date or any kind of trip outside the house these days. Try to keep the haiku part haiku length. If you like the Berrigan Collage Sonnets, or the COVER POEM, go with either of those.

Take yourself on an ARTIST’S DATE, going solo, to a cultural event (if possible) or watch an art film or live JAZZ CONCERT online (the Villagevanguard.com is streaming) OR go to do a health experience you have never done, or have not done in a while, such as Community Acupuncture, Massage, Craniosacral Therapy, Reiki, or go to a Tarot Card reader, psychic, something of that nature. You can do a reading for yourself at www.Facade.com. Try the Runes, my go-to divination. Maybe look at a video from the Cascadia Poetry Fest on Youtube. You could listen to my Spotify playlist “Not Technically Blues.” You can write a poem about the experience if so inclined or use the playlist as background to write. Or, as mentioned in the Saturday Week 3 workshop, try Thelonious Monk Plays Duke Ellington.

 

 

 

Week Six, November 8-9, 2020

Questions, comments, criticisms, rebuttals.

Recommended reading/listening:

Brenda Hillman Interview – See also THIS and her Ecopoetics: A Minifesto. (Audio. Text.)

Michael McClure – Personal Universe Deck.

Audio of McClure’s Personal Universe Deck lecture at Naropa, June 16, 1976.

Discuss writer’s date, share poems.

Writing exercise: Erasure poem. See: THIS and THIS and THIS. Maybe THIS too. There are no good written instructions for this exercise that I could find on-line.

Homework to be done AFTER week SIX and BEFORE DEATH:

Fill out the “sense” grid with ten movement words (with no “ing” or “ly” words.) Add two words with parts of the body. (Yours, a lovers, or someone else.) Include some words for personal heroes or SHEroes, places in the universe, invented words, times of night or day, symbolic signs like astrological signs, totemic animals, birds and plants ONE abstract word that best illustrates your personal universe, then make a Personal Universe Deck. You can do it digitally (thanks to Ben Parzybok) here:

https://universaldeck.org/

But there is something to be said about holding one in your hand. Once you have created your deck, you can festoon each cards with appropriate images POPO collage style and then use it as an aid in composition, as divination device, as something to hold in your hands and play with that’s not connected to the internet. Please send me a report of how you liked this class and how you are working with the materials.

I can’t tell you how inspiring you all have been. I am grateful for your participation and encourage you to consider (Serialty (A Workshop) four weeks, February 7-28, 2021 via Zoom. $128.50 (includes paypal fee) to pen@splab.org. (One of those Sunday nights is Valentine’s Day, so be aware.) In this workshop we will move from the materials shared in Poetics as Cosmology and begin to conceive of and implement a Saturation Job and/or Multi-Decade Research Project. This will require an understanding of the materials covered in the Poetics as Cosmology course AND materials to be covered in the Seriality (A Workshop) course. So, if you sign up, please do engage the materials and come ready to discuss them. This class is limited to 20 participants.

https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/splabman