In the Beginning

By Michael Schein, First & Founding LiTFUSE Muse

A blank page, an open sky.

That’s what LiTFUSE was in 2007, when Mike Longyear and Ed Marquand asked me to propose some kind of literary event for their new arts venue, Mighty Tieton. Like a good poem, LiTFUSE came through me, not from me. Where did it come from? Look around Tieton. The apples (Yeats! silver apples of the moon, golden apples of the sun); the hills, voluptuously folded; the rhythm of our animal breath.

From the beginning, LiTFUSE had a few ideas of what it wanted to be (and not be). Welcoming to all. Not stuffy. Eager to learn from other art forms. Not too expensive. LiTFUSE is a workshop, not a “festival” a “conference” or a “performance”. Writers write, so Write on! At its core, LiTFUSE is a chance for poets from all over Cascadia to UNiTE! to share their voices and support one another’s work.

People—POETS & other strange creatures—make LiTFUSE what it is. The first LiTFUSE was held November 3-4, 2007. Thirty-seven brave poets signed up for two days of workshops and other events. Susan Rich was our featured artist. The rest of the faculty was Cody Walker, Kathleen Flenniken, Paul Nelson, Dan Peters, Carla Schultz & Clare Carpenter (book arts), Carol Trenga (yoga, meditation), and Jonathan King (filmmaker). From the start, an important part of LiTFUSE was infusing the wisdom of multiple art forms and body/mind practices into our writing.

At our first ingathering in 2007, I quoted Jim Bodeen: “Listening is making love. Listening is
the deepest penetration. Listening is a political act. Poetry brings the news of the other world…. Being called to poetry, it seems to me, is being called to listen. It is listening to the deepest sounds. Inside the body. Inside oneself. To the quietest impulse. In the many ways of listening.”

— Listen … hear the many voices of LiTFUSE, as POETS UNiTE!

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