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Welcome to the 3:15 homepage for Paul Nelson

Read from the following days:

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Introduction

August 3:15 as seen from September 2, 2005

August is finally over. As I write, corpses are floating down what were once streets in New Orleans turned into canals by hurricane Katrina. Roving mobs, armed by looting Wal Marts in the Crescent City, are raping and murdering, but that’s the media’s focus. There are reports of at least one police officer being shot in the head, as well as reports of at least 30 police officers who’ve simply quit rather than deal with the “medieval” conditions as described by one resident. War continues in Iraq and the August 3:15 series is over, perhaps forever.

The month began with me still working on the energy gained by a week with George Bowering and his class at the Victoria School of Writing summer school. It had been the first time I had ever done an extended workshop and the field of energy which extended from George, steeped in the poetics of Charles Olson, Robert Duncan, Jack Spicer, b.p. Nichol, TISH and others, was remarkable. Huge thanks to George and the ladies who made up the rest of the class. I think Canadian poets get Open Form easier than those south of the border because it is a process transcending the Newtonian-Cartesian model of separateness at which the U.S. is so adept. If Shahar Bram is right, that Olson’s philosophy is his poetics and that poetics reflects a stance toward reality that is Whitheadian and organismic in nature, then the mainstream of American poets would do well to reconsider the revision/product orientation of their poetry. I am no longer optimistic that this will happen on a large scale quickly, but will eventually if there is a species of human beings that survive this era of cataclysmic planetary change – in large part brought on by that ethos of separatism and reductionism. War and environmental degradation are only two of the symptoms of this control ethos.

This effort to control (& the fear behind it) may have never manifested more explicitly than with the Abu Ghraib prison torture scandal.  Some new revelations about that tragic event in American history, combined with the perspective gained by being out of the country, was the source for a couple of the month’s early efforts: Letter 305 (In Memoriam Hamed Mawhoush) and Letter 405 (Multiple Anomalies). I would sometimes be up in the hours before 3:15, waiting for the magic hour and by 2AM here on the west coast the Washington Post’s daily email of headlines would arrive. I once thought during the Reagan Administration that this country could not get further out of line with reality, but the current administration (and perhaps more importantly the lack of an opposition) make me feel that a huge economic crash may be the only way to restore an order with the values on which this country was founded. As Sam Hamill points out, we are far from the America Whitman envisioned.

The Kerrisdale Elegies is a poem by George which I went to in depth for many of my own 3:15 excursions, some with better results than others. From that came another look at Rilke’s Duino Elegies. Other influences in the month, besides those already mentioned and in no particular order except the one that comes up naturally, were: Sam Hamill, Cat Ruiz, Dan Blunck, the late saxophonist Lucky Thompson, Michel McClure, Anne Waldman, Michael Dylan Welch, Christopher Herold, Juan Acosta, Werner Herzog (Grizzly Man), my daughter Rebecca and my ladyfriend Debra Van Tuinen and her brilliant work. Again thanks to Danika Dinsmore for her years of propelling this project and Tod McCoy for his brilliant volunteer webmastering.                            

peN, 12:24PM, 2 September, 2005.

One last addendum, here on this 19th day of November, 2005: The field of energy from the "Alphabet of Wax" poems, the collaboration with Debra Van Tuinen and John and Roberta Olson—found at http://globalvoicesradio.org/alphabetofwax.html—also was an influence on the 3:15 poems of August 2005. Letter 18:05 (Her Summer Lightning) is an example.

It is interesting to see how the process works, from incubation, inspiration, composition, web publishing and a resonance emanating that lasts from the poems and influeneces other work.


Copyright 2005 by the individual poets