American Prophets


We are grateful to 4 Culture for their financial help to sustain this archiving project.

Paul Nelson first started conducting interviews in his early radio days, Chicago 1980. In 1990 he was promoted to News & Community Affairs Director of KKNW (106.9 in Seattle) and over the next 14 years created nearly 500 hours of innovative and compelling public affairs radio programs. He continues to do interviews to this day and this is the main page for all his interview activity. It is updated regularly and thanks to a grant from 4Culture, we are digitizing our archives and posting links to the audio here.

Allen Ginsberg

Rupert Sheldrake

Building on his early interest in holistic medicine, his interviews soon began to see the holistic approach in all facets of life, as well as the inadequacies of the industry-generated culture. In 1994 he interviewed Allen Ginsberg and three years later co-founded the Northwest SPokenword LAB in Auburn, Washington, now known as SPLAB, Seattle Poetics LAB.

If there was an “A” list of whole-systems luminaries, Paul interviewed many of them and is editing a manuscript of some of the most fascinating interviews into projects called American Prophets and Cascadian Prophets. These are people who inherently understand some angle on the limitations of the materialist/neoliberal world view and the industry-generated culture (or anti-culture). In 2011, the Occupy movement was born, expressing outrage and indignation at the worst abuses of the military-industrial complex, but Paul was there in 1990, interviewing authors, poets and activists, all of whom had an angle on how things could be and how things were evolving past the notion of human as machine and the competition/ domination/colonialist ethos.

Jean Houston

The archives created by Paul include interviews with David AbelCecile Andrews, Richard Atleo, Peter Balakian, Pablo BalerBeaver Chief, Medea Benjamin, Peter BergRobin BlaserGeorge Bowering, Ian Boyden (on Ai WeiWei), Shahar Bram, Darius BrusaferroDavid BuuckTrev Carolan, Wanda Coleman, Stephen Collis, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, Peter CulleyPhyllis Curott, Bhagavan Das, Gloria DeGaetanoJohn de Graaf, Sarah De LeeuwDominick DellaSala, Marita Dingus, Diane diPrima, Larry Dossey, Eric Drooker, George Draffan, Riane Eisler, El Habib Louai, Kurt Elling, Maria Amparo Escandon, Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Gary Ferguson, Nikky Finney, Evan Flory-BarnesJack and Adelle Foley, Father Matthew Fox, Tom Frank, Emily Kendal Frey, Arun Gandhi, Allen Ginsberg, Sallie Ann Glassman, Sam Hamill, Sam Hamill (Poets Against The War), Thom Hartmann, Andrew Harvey, Dennis William Hauck, Jeanne Heuving, Steven Hill,

Brenda Hillman, Brenda Hillman (2017) on Seasonal Works with Letters on Fire, John Hogue, Jeffrey Hollander, Jean Houston, Graham Isaac, Neil Jacobson, Jewell James,

Tina Schumann

Sam Keen, Leslie Korn, José Kozer, Joanne Kyger, GP Lainsbury, Frances Moore Lappe & Anna Lappe, Ed Larson, Claudia Castro LunaNate Mackey, Amalio MadueñoDaphne Marlatt, Jerry MartienBarb Maynes, David McCloskey (Cascadia Institute) Michael McClure, Colleen McElroyBarry McKinnon, Corrine McLaughlin & Gordon Davidson, Russell Means, Erica Helm Meade, Michael Meade, Brooke Medicine Eagle, Finn Menzies, Ethelbert Miller, David Montgomery, Kathleen Dean Moore, Michael Murphy, Eileen MylesLoretta Napoleoni, Brett Nunn, James O’Dea, John Olson, (John Olson Dec 7, 2016 on In Advance of the Broken Justy), Judith Orloff, Dan Pontbriand, Charles Potts, Dawn Prince-Hughes, Jamal Rahman, dan raphael, Paul Ray & Sherry Anderson, John Robbins, Judith Roche, Steve RothJerome Rothenberg, Douglass Rushkoff, Rudy Ryser, Ed Sanders, Andrew Schelling, Leonard Schlain, Mona Lisa Schultz, Tina SchumannCheryl Seidner (Wiyot Tribe),

Anne Waldman

Brenda Hillman

Rupert Sheldrake, Richmond Shepard, Michael Shuman, Laura Simms,Willie SmithJuliana Spahr,Marilyn Stablein,  George Stanley, George Stanley, Susan Starbuck, Hal & Sidra Stone, Solihin and Alicia Thom, Robert Thurman, Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman & Robert Ullman,V.J. Vaitheeswaran, Ed VarneyAnne WaldmanWang Ping, Jerry Wennstrom and Marilyn Strong, Daniel Williams, Jason Wirth, Xi Chuan, Lawrence Paul Yuxweluptun, Stephen Zunes and other SPLAB audio, here.

Arun Gandhi


Rudy Ryser

3 Responses to American Prophets

  1. Consider interviewing Major (“Maj”) Ragain? Little known beyond a hundred mile circle around Akron, Ohio, he is, to many, including myself, teacher/mentor/poet supreme. Having lost the use of his legs to childhood polio, he has not a spark of self-pity nor is he handicapped by the obvious condition. Disdaining wheelchairs etc, mostly these days he crawls, often through rain or snow, to his car specially outiftted for his needs and conducts writing workshops at Kent State, a Veterans’ Poetry Workshop circle, and huge monthly poetry readings at an independant bookstore. Neither shy nor coy, he is by nature at once ecstatic and humble in such a way as to make one suddenly proud to be of the same species as this man. Decades ago I had to urge him to publish when he, the same age as I am, took a workshop from me at a racetrack in Boise, Idaho, bowling me over with his astonishing work. When I assured him his work was publishable he merely shrugged; when I pointed out that work such as his is rare and is needed by many many of us to be reminded of how miraculous a thing life all around us is, only then was he willing to considered publication. He has now published, w/small places such as Pavement Saw and Bottom Dog Press, several collections. His spirit is imbued with a profound knowledge of poetry, zen, Taoist philosophy, and he is an inexhaustible font of racetrack history and lore. Like his fellow track rat, Bukowski, he is earthy; like Rilke, he knows the angelic orders and so he is as conversant about the spirit as he is about the spirited creatures who race on those dirt tracks. He can be reached a [email protected].

    I am William Pitt Root, at [email protected].

    • Splabman says:

      William, thanks for reading this blog and for your inspired testimonial.
      I am focusing on bioregional poets (Cascadia) for the foreseeable future, but thanks for keeping me apprised of Maj Ragain. Paul

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