Cascadia Poetry Festival

Rethinking Borders through bioregional poetries
Map of Cascadia by Dr. David McCloskey of the Cascadia Institute

I can't think of a better way to begin this commentary about emplaced poetries than through the Cascadia Poetry Festival convening presently on Vancouver Island, in Nanaimo, British Columbia, April 30 to May 3. Emphasizing bioregional boundaries over those of nation-states, the Cascadian Movement elaborates a new geographically-based sense of place. The origins and manifestations of this concept are multiple and overlapping - see for example, the Seattle Poetics Lab (SPLAB), the host of the first festival, the Cascadia Institute, with its mission to promote an ecological understanding of the region, this summary from the Center for the Study of the Pacific Nortwest, and this article on CascadiaNow, an organization with the goal of "reframing things so that we think of ourselves as inhabitants of this place."

This year, festival will include a tribute to Peter Culley, Nanaimo-based poet, photographer, and art critic, whose works include Hammertown (New Star, 2003) - a book and a series of poems distributed across sever of Culley's collections (including The Climax Forest, Leach Books, 1995 and Parkway, New Star, 2013) - an emplaced re-imagination of his hometown of Nanaimo, where he resided since 1972. This event, as well as the kick-off reading for the first-ever anthology bringing together poets from various and far-reaching points in Cascadian territory, Make it True: Poetry from Cascadia and the festival's keynote address from Sam Hammil, are/will be streaming live. I will issue more remote reports on Cascadian poetry in coming comments, from my locale in the high desert prairie of eastern Washington.

[The above map reflects McCloskey's geographical schema in which the Cascadian bioregion extends, on its eastern edge, south-to-north along the Pacific coast from Cape Mendocino in northern California up to around Icy Bay in the corner of the Gulf of Alaska; its southern edge encompasses the North Coast Ranges up to Mt. Shasta and along the Modoc Plateau in northern California, then eastward around the border of the Great Basin into central Oregon, through northern Nevada, Utah, and Wyoming; and west-to-east to the Continental Divide extending from Yellowstone up through the American and Canadian Rocky Mountains.]