The first annual Cascadia Poetry Festival was held in the Columbia District of Seattle over the weekend of March 24th and 25th, and brought in visiting poets and faculty from Oregon, British Columbia, California, Idaho, Western Montana and the Alaska Panhandle. The collaborative project was hosted by SPokenword LAB (SPLAB), in the most diverse zip code in the United States, to learn and share ideas and techniques, to explore the qualities of this bioregion that make the Pacific Northwest unique, and to discover the possibilities of deeper connections between inhabitants from all parts of the region.
The festival was dreamed up and organized by Paul Nelson, founder of SPLAB, with input from several others including consulting faculty member and Professor David McCloskey, one of the founding voices that gave rise to Cascadian bioregionalism in the late 1970s. The event was supported by Pacific Rim Review of Books, based in Victoria BC, the Seward Park Environmental and Audubon Center in Settle, The Raven Chronicles, Poets & Writers, Poetry Northwest, Menacing Hedge literary journal, the Elysian Brewery and Humanities Washington, and featured artists including Sam Hamill, Tim McNulty, Dan Raphael, Carolyne Wright, Kim Goldberg, Trevor Carolan, Catherine Owen, Maleea Acker, Katharine Whitcomb, Richard Olafson, and others.
Events over the weekend included workshops, readings and panel discussions with established and emerging poets from around the Northwestern United States and Canada who also presented talks on Cascadian culture, and illustrating how it is presented in the best poetry of the region. For those interested, complete details and biographies of participating organizations and artists, as well as photographs and report backs, can be found online on the SPLAB website at www.splab.org/cascadia.
Cascadia 2013 will be held in British Columbia, and planning is already underway.