Truth be told at poetry workshops Nov. 29 and Dec. 6

The poet June Jordan said, “The first function of poetry is to tell the truth, to learn how to do that, to find out what you really feel and what you really think.”

This month, Orcas Islanders will have a rare opportunity to learn how to tell their own truths through poetry at two workshops held at Doe Bay Resort in collaboration with the non-profit Artsmith.

“Telling our truths in writing is really what we’re doing already through our weekly event- building a community of writers,” volunteer organizer Jennifer Brennock said.

Seattle poet Paul Nelson will teach The Personal Mythology of Organic Poetry on Sunday, Nov. 29 from 1 to 4 p.m. at Doe Bay Resort in the Otter Lodge. Tuition for Nelson’s workshop is $35.

“The process of training your ear to capture the chaotic energy of the moment, organic poetry, is where composition’s an occasion of experience,” Nelson said.

Nelson is a poet, father, and teacher as well as the co-founder of the Northwest SPokenword LAB of Seattle. He is the author of Organic Poetry and he has been published in Golden Handcuffs Review, Jacket Magazine, Fulcrum, OlsonNow Blog, The Argotist, and Raven Chronicles. His book of poetry is entitled A Time Before Slaughter.

Performance poetry team David Perez and Jen G of The Pincushion Orchestra will teach the workshop “Performance Poetry” on Sunday, Dec. 6 from 2 to 4 p.m. in the yoga studio at Doe Bay Resort. This workshop is specifically designed for all ages and all levels of experience are welcome. Tuition is by donation to include all who would like to learn more about reading creative work aloud.

David Perez and Jen G. will include Orcas Island on the northwest tour of The Pincushion Orchestra. Jen G. is the coach of the 2009 San Jose poetry slam team and has performed widely through the Bay Area. G. is also part of an experimental filmmaking duo which won the 2008 Viscera Award. In 2008, David Perez represented San Jose at the Individual World Poetry slam. In 2009, he competed at the National Poetry Slam with team San Jose. For the past two years, Perez has coached San Jose’s youth slam team and worked as Performing Arts Program Coordinator for MACLA, Movimiento de Arte y Cultura Latino Americana. Perez is currently an MFA candidate at Goddard College.

Each workshop precedes a reading by the instructors the following evening. Paul Nelson will read Monday, Nov. 30 and Organic Poetry workshop participants are invited to join Nelson to read their work at the salon. The Pincushion Orchestra will perform Monday, Dec. 7 directly following the Orcas Island Chamber mixer. All Artsmith salons begin at 7 p.m.

To register for a workshop, email Rene at or call 376-2107.

The Artsmith Salon Series will complete its fall season on Dec. 14 with readings by two local talents, Sandy Thompson and Joe Symons followed by the writers’ open mic.

“As a creative writer, something happens when you actually read what you’ve put on paper out loud to other people. When it gets out in the open, things shift and you really can’t help but see yourself differently,” Brennock said. “It’s like a proof.”