Cascadia Poetry Festival

As mentioned in my previous post, this past weekend, I attended the third Cascadia Poetry Festival, which was held in Nanaimo.  This festival focuses on poetry and poets from the Cascadia bio-region.

From the program:  “The concept of bioregionalism is still woefully misunderstood.  Bioregionalism is a reexamination of our own selves and the places in which we live in purely ecological terms, and is an effort to harmonize human activities with the natural systems that sustain life.”

This festival featured Living Room readings (“free and open democratic reading[s] where people read their own work and listen to others in a circle format” — also from the program), panel discussions, workshops (out of my price range, sadly), poetry readings galore, and later night gatherings at a local bar.  Due to family obligations and the fact that everything was happening this weekend, including the monthly local homelearners’ group meet-up and Free Comic Book Day (the first one in which I’ve taken part) on Saturday, I didn’t partake of everything the festival had to offer.

I went to the Living Room readings on Friday and Saturday, and read two poems each time.  I received a number of positive responses to the poems I read.  (Yay, praise!)

I attended the evening poetry readings.  I was privileged to listen to many poets, including Renée Sarojini Saklikar, Christine Lowther, Amber Dawn,Garry Gottfriedson, Susan Musgrave, Rita Wong, and Sam Hamill.  Robert Bringhurst, whom I heard at the closing reading, has a deep, distinctive voice.  I remember thinking he’d make a good movie trailer announcer.

I watched the Saturday screening of the documentary The Line Has Shattered, which is about the 1963 Vancouver Poetry Conference.  I found it interesting but not as emotionally-gripping as a lot of the documentaries I’ve watched in the past year and a bit.

I attended two panel discussions on Sunday.  They were titled:  Rewilding Poetry (Eco-Poetry in Cascadia) and On the Margins.  The first panel featured poets Rita Wong, Christine Leclerc, Sharon Thesen, and Stephen Collis.  The second panel featured poets Nadine Maestas, Renée Sarojini Saklikar, and Susan Musgrave.  They each presented a short speech/poetry about the topic; then it was opened up to the floor for questions or comments.  I would like to say I took tons of notes at these panels; however, while I recorded a couple quotes, I mostly sat listening and thinking.

Also on Sunday, I purchased three books of poetry:  Where the Words End and My Body Begins by Amber Dawn (which I read all in one go in the bath Sunday night), Let’s Give War a Chance by Faiza Sultan (she read the title poem at one of the Living Rooms; it was and is powerful), and Half-Blood Poems:  Inspired by the Stories of J.K. Rowling by Christine Lowther (Harry Potter-inspired poems?  Yes, please!).

I made connections and heard many poets I may not otherwise have heard.  By the end of the festival, my head felt jam-packed with poetry and bursting with too many ideas.


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