Poets and scientists discuss climate issues at Cascadia Poetry Festival in Cumberland

The Cascadia Poetics LAB Society (CPLS) presents its second biennial Cascadia Poetry Festival – Poetry in a Time of Climate Crisis – taking place in various locations in downtown Cumberland, Oct. 4-5.

CPLS’s vision is to engage the public in a community-based literary arts festival, encouraging dialogue and collaboration between audience, writers, artists, and scientists to foster a deeper connection between all inhabitants and to Cascadia itself.

Cascadia Poetics Lab artistic director Adelia MacWilliam said the idea for this year’s theme was the result of a retreat last year that featured Dr. Dominick DellaSala as a guest speaker.

In addition to being the president and chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Ore., Dellasala is also an internationally renowned author of over 200 technical papers on forest and fire ecology, conservation biology, endangered species management, and landscape ecology (see complete bio at the end of this article).

“Dominick DellaSala came to see us at a poetry retreat last year… and he gave a talk to [a small gathering], so we thought we could get him back and make sure a lot of people show up so he is addressing a larger audience. He gave such a good talk last year. It was wonderful.

“He is really a prominent person and we are really lucky to have a connection to somebody like that, and to have him come to our part of the world.

MacWilliam said part of the CPLS agenda is to get poetic people to think about things on a deeper level.

“We like the idea of mixing it up with something like this; we are all concerned about the environment,” said MacWilliam.

DellaSala will make a couple of presentations at the festival – one each day.

The Cascadia Poetry Festival kicks off Friday, with a special Science Pub.

At 7 p.m., Friday, Oct. 4 at the Masonic Hall CPLS is collaborating with the Cumberland Community Forest Society, co-hosting a Poetry/Science Pub event: Nature’s Phoenix: Forest Fire Ecology and the Poetics of Climate Change. The Poetry/Science pub features climate scientist Dominick DellaSala and poet Sonnet L’Abbé. There will be touch and taste samples, on-theme beverages, live screen printing, ambient electronica and more. Admission is $15. CCFS Science Pubs are presented with the support of Cumberland Village Works, Cumberland Brewing Company, Wayward Distillation House, Raven’s Moon Ciderworx, and Harmonic Arts.

Saturday morning, (Oct. 5) at 10 a.m. there will be a panel discussion: Exploring the Poetics of Climate Crisis, where our poets and DellaSala will discuss how we can creatively respond to the climate crisis, with ample opportunity for audience questions.

Saturday afternoon consists of four concurrent workshops (led by Matt Rader, Jorden Abel, Sonnet L’Abbé , and Meaghan Cursons) followed by a free living-room-style open mic at 3:30 in The Abbey, where anyone from the community is welcome to share poetry.

The final event, on Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at the Masonic Hall, is a reading with poets Jan Zwicky, Matt Rader, Jordan Abel, and Jordan Scott.

MacWilliam said she is looking forward to seeing a great mix of participants, adding this festival is really for anyone who cares about environmental issues.

“I think Saturday’s panel is bound to be interesting, just to see the interaction – it’s not just about poetry but about the response, including creative response, to the climate crisis. Where do we go from here, and what happens when creative people mix with scientists.”

For details, and advance tickets to the festival, see cascadiapoeticslab.ca

For bios on all the poets and presenters, see link at the end of the article.

-With files from CPLS

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