Kagean Ni House Proposal (September 3, 2022)
We envision a literary arts retreat center on the Olympic Peninsula. Kagean Ni would be a bioregional knowledge center and unofficial Cascadia Headquarters, would aid researchers by creating a library focused on Cascadia topics and would help poets live the life of a poet 24/7 in a manner that would honor the spirit, work, and life of Sam Hamill, the late Founder of Copper Canyon Press, poet, translator and friend of the organization. It would continue — & give a physical space again to stage — the organization’s commitment to a spontaneous/place-based and embodied poetics to shift the paradigm away from the abstractions and generalizations of Western culture and the disconnect from biosphere that stance enables. Our project is to site a small literary arts center in the Brinnon/Quilcene/Dabob area. In addition to the cultural aspect, the project has a strong land preservation component and will include an effort to bring a diversity of poets, authors, and students together who write from the voice of the land in our region. We envision workshops, authors in residence, community readings and events, and providing access to the Olympic Wilderness for those who may not have had that opportunity, including BIPOC poets.
The house would be purchased (or built) to serve as bioregional knowledge center, retreat center for the CPL Board, a place for extended workshops, individual literary retreats putting poets of color and others at the margin first, CPL events and events sympathetic to the CPL mission of “Empowering people to practice poetry & deepen connections to place, self & the present moment.” We envision a place from which participants could walk into the wilderness. There would be Airbnb-ready cabins to aid revenues, poetry events, retreats, writing workshops, computer literacy classes and natural medicine events.
The ideal property has a house with kitchen, bathrooms, a large area that could be used for group workshops, yoga/meditation retreats, small cabins on the property to house visitors as well as campsites. Estimated budget: $2M for the property and upgrades. (An additional $1M for operations.) The Olympic Peninsula is home to Olympic National Park, a U.N. World Heritage site and was Sam’s home for decades. The proximity to the park opens up wilderness writing experience opportunities. The priorities of the house would reflect CPL and Sam Hamill’s dedication to peace, Asian wisdom traditions, translation, consciousness, poetry of place and poetics.
Born in 1943, Sam Hamill was raised in Utah, attended the University of California–Santa Barbara, where he served as editor of the university’s literary magazine. In 1972, with money awarded for editorial excellence, he co-founded Copper Canyon Press. Sam wrote numerous books of poetry, four books of literary prose, edited several volumes of poetry and published several books of translations. Editor of Copper Canyon Press for 34 years, he founded Poets Against the War, a movement of poets protesting the invasion of Iraq. Sam received numerous honors and awards, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, and the U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission, as well as the First Amendment Award from PEN USA, and two Washington Governor’s Arts Awards. He died in Anacortes, Washington, on April 14, 2018.
Sam Hamill Photographed by Ian Boyden