5th Cascadia Poetry Festival to be held Oct. 12-15 in Tacoma


The Cascadia Poetry Festival is an international event which gathers writers, artists, scientists and activists to collaborate, discover and foster deeper connection between the region’s inhabitants, and the place itself. On Oct. 12-15, the fifth festival will take place at the Washington State History Museum and other venues. (This year marks the first year of a merger of the Cascadia Poetry Festival and the Tacoma Poetry Festival, the latter was staged twice in Tacoma.)

Michael McClure, CAConrad, Ianthe Brautigan, Patricia Smith, Bruce Weigl, Washington Poet Laureate Tod Marshall, Sharon Thesen, Lucia Misch and Lorna Dee Cervantes are among the confirmed performers/participants. The festival will honor the memory of Richard Brautigan with a tribute on Sat., Oct. 14 and a plaque dedication on Sun., Oct. 15. There will also be a Tribute to Grunge on Fri., Oct.13 at 10 p.m. at the Harmon Barrel Room hosted by Hamish Todd.

A $25 Gold Pass provides access to all festival events except for workshops, which must be booked separately. (Although there are discounts on some workshops, and some are even free if  a gold pass is purchased early.) Due to overwhelming demand, however, workshops will only be open to Gold Pass holders. Tickets can be purchased via Brown Paper Tickets: cpf5.bpt.me

Admission to single events is $10 at the door.

As in prior incarnations of the festival, “Living Room,” a free, democratic reading for poets to read their original work in a circle format with other poets, will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 3-5 p.m.

The launch of the anthology “56 Days of August: Poetry Postcards” is Thur., Oct. 12 at King’s Books at 7 p.m. and is free.

Laura-Krughoff-Writer's resist
Laura Krughoff

Saturday’s highlights include a war poetry/veterans panel and the Richard Brautigan Life & Legacy Panel. Sunday there are five workshops offered: Patricia Smith: Writing on the Other Side of the Wall, Tod Marshall: Finding Cascadia in Poetry, Laura Krughoff/Renee Simms: Tacoma Writers Resist, CAConrad: Karma Harvest A (Soma)tic Poetry Workshop, and Ianthe Brautigan: Memoir Workshop.

Renee-Simms_Writer's resist
Renee Simms

Each night of the festival features main stage readings by distinguished participants, and Michael McClure closes out the festival at 6 p.m. Sunday. An award-winning American poet, playwright, songwriter, and novelist, he was one of the five poets who participated in the Six Gallery reading that featured the public debut of Allen Ginsberg’s landmark poem “Howl.” A key figure of the Beat Generation, McClure is immortalized as Pat McLear in Jack Kerouac’s novels “The Dharma Bums” and “Big Sur.”

Find a full schedule at: cascadiapoetry festival.org/2017-schedule/.


Writing on the Other Side of the Wall with Patricia Smith

  • Sat., Oct 14, 12:30-2:30 p.m.

Washington State History Museum, $50 for the first 15 Gold Pass holders who register

Patricia Smith by Beowulf Sheehan
Patricia Smith

At the risk of being labeled “confessional,” the workshop will explore ways to reach and write material that we continually shun — or steadfastly ignore — usually because prohibitive emotional content makes it so difficult to access. Writing about stunning sunsets or a first kiss is fine, but the work that changes us, that gives us the resilience to move from one human moment to the next, often lies on the other side of a wall that most of us have decided it’s best not to approach. We’ll approach it, we’ll scale it, we’ll scare ourselves more than a little — but the poems we find in that shadowy, uncharted territory will be well worth the journey.

Patricia Smith is the author of six critically-acknowledged volumes of poetry, including “Shoulda Been Jimi Savannah,” which was awarded the Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry from the Library of Congress, was the winner of the 2013 Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy American Poets, and was a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America; “Blood Dazzler,” a National Book Award finalist; “Teahouse of the Almighty,” a National Poetry Series winner (all from Coffee House Press); “Close to Death and Big Towns,” “Big Talk” (both from Zoland Books), and “Life According to Motown,” just released in a special 20th anniversary edition (Tia Chucha Press). She also edited the crime fiction anthology Staten Island Noir. Her contribution to the anthology, “When They Are Done with Us,” won an award from Mystery Writers of America and was published in Best American Mystery Stories. She is a Cave Canem faculty member, a professor of English at CUNY/College of Staten Island and a faculty member of the Sierra Nevada MFA program.

Finding Cascadia in Poetry Workshop

  • Sun., Oct 15, 9-11 a.m.

Washington State History Museum, Free to first 20 Gold Pass holders who register

Tod-Marshall-by-Amy-Sinisterra_finding cascadia
Tod Marshall

Stunningly diverse, Cascadia stretches from ocean shores to high desert, from rainforests to channeled scablands; to put it simply, the region includes diverse ecologies (and numerous cultural practices). In this workshop, we’ll explore some of the ways that poets have used a sense of “place” to propel their poetics. After talking about these poets and poems, we’ll try to discover what a Cascadian Poetic might mean for each of our practices and work toward generating a draft of a poem. Bring pen and paper (or preferred writing instrument).

The current Poet Laureate of the state of Washington, Tod Marshall grew up in Kansas. His books of poetry include “Bugle” (Canarium Press, 2014), “The Tangled Line” (Canarium Press, 2009), and “Dare Say” (University of Georgia Press, 2002). He has also published a collection of his interviews with contemporary poets, “Range of the Possible” (Eastern Washington University Press, 2002) and an attendant anthology of work by the interviewed poets, “Range of Voices” (EWU Press, 2005). He lives in Spokane, Washington, and teaches at Gonzaga University.

Ianthe Brautigan Memoir Workshop

  • Sun., Oct 15, 11:15 a.m., Washington State History Museum, $50 after purchase of Gold Pass
Ianthe-Brautigan-Swensen_Memoir Workshop
Ianthe Brautigan

This memoir workshop will focus on how to use different narrative structures to help find one’s voice on the page. There will be a combination of a short lecture with workshop participants doing various writing exercises — with time for Q & A at the end.

Ianthe Brautigan is the author of “You Can’t Catch Death.” She currently writes for the PBS television series “Joanne Weir Gets Fresh.” She has also been published in Confrontation, The Antioch Review, Simple Feast, and many other publications. Brautigan has appeared at the Dinefwr Literature Festival with Gruff Rhys, Joe Dunthorne and The Brautigan Book Club. She was invited to speak on Writers and Zeitgeist of the 1960s with LitQuake at UC Berkeley, focusing on Richard Brautigan, Ken Kesey & Lenore Kandel, as well as, at “I Watched the World … 30 years after Brautigan” with Joanne Kyger, Michael McClure, and David Meltzer, co-produced by Bancroft & Litquake. She teaches at Sonoma State University at the Hutchins School of Liberal Studies. She has an MFA in Creative Writing from San Francisco State University. Brautigan has one daughter and resides quite happily in northern California with her husband, the director/producer Paul Swensen, and various small animals.

KARMA HARVEST: A (Soma)tic Poetry Workshop

n Sun. Oct. 15, 11:15 a.m., Washington State History Museum, $50 for the first 20 Gold Pass holders who register

Poet CAConrad has successfully used (Soma)tic poetry rituals to overcome depression after the murder of his boyfriend. He has also created writing rituals using the night sky to design homemade star constellations, another ritual to experience what the impact of hearing the word “drone” has on the human body, and many others from talking with trees, ghosts, translating Shakespeare’s sonnets with crystals, and coping with the destroyed wilderness of our planet.

The (Soma)tic rituals that will be examined in Tacoma will help you see the creative viability in everything around you, by creating a space of “extreme present” where being anything but present is next to impossible. Also discussed will be how poets and their rituals help end our alienation from our planet and from one another. Creative people are survivors and they will examine the important role of artists for the future health and happiness of our species at this bleak time in our history.

CAConrad’s childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift. The author of nine books of poetry and essays, the latest is titled “While Standing In Line For Death” and is forthcoming from Wave Books (Sept., 2017). He is a Pew Fellow and has also received fellowships from Lannan Foundation, MacDowell Colony, Headlands Center for the Arts, Banff, RADAR, Flying Ojbect and Ucross.

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