7/29/11: back briefly

I’m home for a couple of weeks, and then off to the annual beach week with family at Cape May, NJ.

I’ve just returned from a week at the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference and then 5 days on the Olympic Peninsula with my niece. Both events were memorable. (More on the conference below.) My niece is smart and fabulous and a conscientious vegetarian; has just graduated from college; and is gearing up to start a new job in NYC. The Olympic mountain range is pretty amazing; ditto the Hoh rain forest. We spent most of our time driving, hiking, eating healthily (with exceptions made for lavender ice cream), and talking philosophy.

At the conference, I spent the week in a daily poetry workshop led by Cate Marvin, who is a delicious poet and was wonderfully generous with her time and engagement. She started each daily session reading and discussing poems from Richard Hugo and Raphael Alberti, then we worked on three versions of our own “problem poems” and read our daily poem assignments to each other. The group comprised 13 serious and talented writers; criticism was spot-on and supportive; and I felt very encouraged and energized all week. The rest of the day was spent (for me) writing, walking, eating fresh and well prepared meals in the canteen, and selectively going to other workshops, craft talks, and nightly readings. It was my first time at the 38-year-old annual conference, and I’ll likely go again. It was well worth it.

I’ll post some of my poems from the week on Word Poems. Here is a taste of one of Raphael Alberti’s poems, from The Owl’s Insomnia, translated by Mark Strand.

The Bad Moment

In the days when I used to think
that fields of wheat were the homes of stars and gods
and frost a gazelle’s frozen tears,
somebody whitewashed my chest and my shadow,
and I was betrayed.

It was a moment of bullets gone wild,
of the sea’s making off with men who wished to be birds,
of the telegrams bringing bad news and the finding of blood,
of the death of the water that always had stared at the sky.



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2 Responses to 7/29/11: back briefly

  1. redmitten says:

    oh this poem! does everything find a bended knee inside you when you experience it? in me, yes.

    looking forward to experiencing more of your work as a result of this conference! did you meet toni?

    • Oh yes, this poem is a bended knee. And Alberti is a totally new poet for me. In fact, one of the greatest things about being at a writing workshop was the list of poets I now must read. And yes, Toni and I met!

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