Two Countries Anthology

Was having after-party drinks and tacos with Nadine Maestas and we were commiserating about the intensity of people of Latino descent. When you have a name like Nadine Antoinette Maestas, and you are from New Mexico, people have a sense that you have Latinx roots. When your name is Paul E Nelson, you’re just another white, cis-gendered male tool of the patriarchy.

Yet because of my Mother, thank you Ma, I’ve had work selected for the Two Countries anthology by Tina Schumann. From the event webpage:

Two-Countries: US Daughters & Sons of Immigrant Parents (Red Hen Press) is an anthology of flash memoir, personal essays, and poetry edited by poet Tina Schumann, herself a child of an immigrant.

The collection contains contributions from sixty-five writers who were either born and/or raised in the United States by one or more immigrant parent. Their work describes the many contradictions, discoveries, and life lessons one experiences when one is neither seen as fully American nor fully foreign.

Seven contributors to the anthology will read tonight: Jed MyersPaul E. NelsonShin Yu PiTammy RobackerMary Lou SanelliMichael Schmeltzer, and Kristy Webster.

Two Countries:
US Daughters and Sons of Immigrant Parents

Anthology Launch
October 26 at 7:00 PM – 8:30 PM
Richard Hugo House

The anthology has been so long in the making that my bio listed on the event page is out dated, but I look forward to this event and will, of course, read work inspired by a visit to my Mother’s home country, Cuba, in 2005.

To have this “split identity” has its curses and blessings. I’m grateful I grew up in an era when we believed in Dr. King’s notion that we should judge people on the content of their character, not the color of their skin, so identity politics and its bastard step-child identity poetics never had appeal to me. As Sam Hamill once said: “You barely pass for a white guy” and the close calls involve occasional hassles at customs, 17.5 years of discrimination and character assassination in Auburn when I lived there and a couple of lost jobs due to intense responses of mine, quite normal in Cuba, but unacceptable in the passive-aggressive NW. But I would not want to trade the intensity that comes with Cuban blood and love how my Cuban (and before them, Spanish) ancestors show up in my life: plátanos at the Caribbean soul restaurant, calling the new neighborhood we live in Rainier Beash, as a Cuban would Miami Beash and of course legendary cursing which is related in vivid detail in my interview with the dean of Cuban poets, José Kozer. (See: Tiovivo Tres Amigos.)

Thanks Tina Schumann, for understanding this dynamic, for putting this anthology together and for including me. & thanks Ma for the genetic intensity.

Lesbia Matilde Pino Roque de Nelson & Paul E Nelson Jr.

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POetry POstcard Update (APPF11 2017)

There is less than a week to sign up for the 11th August POetry POstcard Fest. We have 5 and a half complete groups so far. Last year we had seven complete groups and there are many who love to sneak in under the wire. The official call is here. The direct link to the signup is here.

Meantime, I got a package yesterday from Donna Dakota of Schenectady, NY:

I love the D-i-Y feel of this and it combines several other things about poetry I love:

1) Poetry Postcards.
2) An expanded comfort zone. Poetry is not brain surgery, people. Taking a risk on a poem being sent to a single individual is not going to kill anybody. Not sure if it is from a poem, or a country music song, but this seems applicable here:

Dance like no one is watching,
Live like you’ll never be hurt
Sing like no one is listening
Live like it’s heaven on earth.

3) Seriality. I’ve written about it many times and this post is a good place to start, but seriality and spontaneity are two methods that I’ve used to get deeper down my own throat as I engage in writing poetry and I think there is a lot to the notion that these two methods are excellent ways to make the poem an act of discovery and a high-energy-construct, in Charles Olson’s words.

Thank you Donna Dakota for participating and for your kind gift.

While you’re here, see some other postcard resources:

Linda Crosfield Lives for File Folders

Postcard Testimonial by Ina Roy-Faderman, the Chief Editor of 56 Days of August.

How Sending Postcards to Strangers Made Me a Better Designer by the David Sherwin


Writing or Re-Writing by Your Humble Narrator

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August POetry POstcard Fest Year 11 Official Call

The August Poetry Postcard Fest was initiated in 2007 by poets Paul Nelson and Lana Ayers. 2017 marks the eleventh year of the fest and this is your official call.

Directions to participate in the fest are linked here. 

This year poets will be organized in groups of 32 and the list will be released as each group gets the required amount of participants. The signup will end July 19 at 11:59pm PDT. There will be a $10 fee (+ service charge to participate this year which will go to stage the Cascadia Poetry Festival in 2017.) 

The page at which to register is: is the main page for the fest. The signup period only lasts two weeks this year, so take note and plan accordingly.

2017 is the second year funds go directly to the Cascadia Poetry Festival and is the first chance for ticket-buyers to get their Gold Pass for the 2017 Fest in Tacoma. (Registration is open now at: A contribution of $10 covers the fest.  $25 more gets you a Gold Pass and entry to all CPF events except Master Workshops. (Space is limited, so get to fest events early.) We’re also asking for participants to cover the small costs BPT takes to handle the funds and signup process.


1. Make sure you want to do this. It means writing at least 31 original poems onto cards and mailing them by August 31. There are no excuses short of (lord forbid) injuries, sickness or other unfortunate events, but if you sign up, please send 31 cards.

2. Look to see where your name is on your list. You will get a list emailed to you soon after your group hits 32 participants and NOT when you pay the registration fee. Make sure your info is correct and each address is complete. LET ME KNOW ASAP IF NOT. Each group will have 32 poets, so each list will be a closed loop and early signees will not be penalized by waiting for the last minute registrants to sign up. It pays to get in early. I’ll send the whole list to all participants when registration has closed.

3. When you see your name on the list you get for your group, send three original poems to those three people JUST BELOW your name. ie: If you are #10 on the list, you should send cards to: # 11 #12 & #13. Do it before July 27. If you want to send more, that’s ok. If you are at the bottom of the list, start with the names at the very top. ie: #32 will send to #1, #2 & #3. No later than August 1, start sending postcards until you have sent at least 31 total, continuing down from your name and going to the bottom, then going to the top of the list. (Some people also pick out a few extra poets, friends, neighbors, and write 35 or 40! I will provide all the participant addresses, but not until the entire list is final.)

4. Once you start receiving poems, see if there is a thread, a tone, an image, a fragrance, something that can inspire you in the next poem you send. Please refer to the call and the handy links there for more help on the how of this. and other links that drop down from there. If you don’t get inspired from cards you receive, no biggie. Just write and mail.

If you have people from outside your country on the list YOU MUST SEND EXTRA POSTAGE. From the US, in 2016 a card anywhere across the border cost $1.15 in postage, or FOUR .34c POSTCARD stamps. Some people recognize that the stamp itself can add flair to the card. If you send oversized cards, you’ll need a regular letter stamp in the U.S. See:

6. If you are on Facebook, check out the Facebook Postcard Fest page. Many people get excited about the fest, but I would suggest writing your poems and then chatting about them on the Facebook page or other social media AFTER the fest. Let’s try to recreate a feeling of the time (gasp) BEFORE SOCIAL MEDIA. That page is moderated and posts will not be allowed if the spirit of the fest is violated.

7. DO NOT POST YOUR POEMS ONLINE UNTIL 30 DAYS AFTER THEY GET SENT and more if the card was sent overseas. Pity to see it online before it arrives in the box. Kinda defeats the purpose. Also, ASK PERMISSION to post other people’s poems. OK? The image is fair game, but make sure the poet who sent you the poem grants permission for you to publish in any way.

8. Just putting this list together is a task. If you can get a question about the fest answered by reading something here (and all the links above) please do. Leave a comment in the comment section.

9. Document your cards before sending them out. Scanning both sides is one way, if you have a home scanner. Then re-typing the poems and recreating the line breaks is the way I have done it. There are many examples on the blog. See: and and

10. Have fun. This fest is designed to get you to trust your gut in the act of composition. Learning about the traditions of spontaneity in North American poetry and other disciplines has been life-changing for me and if you participate with trust in the process, you’ll also experience some degree of liberation, a little high, or both. Goddess-speed.

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