There are two short and very sweet write-ups on the recent Cascadia Poetry Festival staged in Nanaimo, BC, on Vancouver Island Apr 30-May 3. The first by young poet Winter Darbley starts:
I knew that I was going to have fun the minute I walked up to the campus and saw the lawn full of bunnies and the horde of yellow-tagged poets climbing up the stairs. There were colourful characters from every walk of life–quiet little elderly ladies, mountainously vivid young ladies, rugged young men, and many an eccentric, hat-wearing bearded poet. Some had travelled from Seattle or Oregon to be there. There was one strikingly talented poet from Iraq, with a brilliant headscarf that matched the splendour of her words.
The second by Judith Hutchison says:
These were people who think poetry is important and who spend their lives writing and reading poetry every day. They came together to share their poems with each other as a celebration and exploration of Cascadia. Cascadia is not an imaginary place identified by arbitrary political lines on a paper map, but a real place, identified by its geography (northwest ocean and mountain bound) as a dynamic bioregion. To think and act from a feeling of membership in Cascadia requires a shift in consciousness. This transformation of attitude fosters new relationships, whether they be with native and immigrant people, with those who live on the other side of a political division, or with fellow residents who are members of other species.
Both pieces are linked here: http://www.avenue.zone/a-participant-at-large-at-the-cascadia-poetry-festival-iii-nanaimo/
The notion that people would begin to understand the depth at which the bioregional approach works is part of this work. It is also part cultural investigation and animation, that is bringing to life the culture that is there but often buried under the debris of the industry-generated-culture. That participants would want to attend future iterations of the fest is also one of the goals of this work, which is why the Seattle 2016 local organizing committee will be meeting in the next month to form and ensure that the festival can build on the success of Nanaimo. Hats off again to David Fraser, Kim Clark, Kim Golbery, Mary Ann Moore, Ursula Vaira and all the other members of the Nanaimo local organizing committee.