Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dodge Download, Day 1

In order of attendance....
  • Dovie Thomason is back from a head injury which caused her to lose all (600+!) of her stories. And she's added some personal modern stories. "When you're young, you're a treasuure. When yhou're old, you're a treasure. In between, take care of your treasures."
  • Evie Shockley read poems, her own and others, influenced by music, folklore, and the sheer application of language. "There are some poems every poet must write, like every women poet must have a poem about her mother."
  • Charles Simic spoke eloquently of the need to find something new to write about, lest your poems be (intentionally or ignorantly) derivative. His life experience set influence his consideration of even the most mundane objects. Of his poem "Serving Time", he said "I just took the phrase literally and started wrigin. I had no idea where it was going."
  • Sharon Olds, having more fun than one might have thought possible, discovered her poems really do contain ideas, and misheard her way into a great new phrase: "Event sugar". She claimed influence from the "great poetry of the psalms, the bad poetry of the hymns."
  • Beth Ann Fennelly advised us to "take red taxi", which is to follow the less predictable path between points. "Being a poet is training yourself to look."
  • Naomi Shihab Nye actually relinquished her microphone to a student whose question during Q&A was "Will you read my poem?" She loves airplanes: "When else can I just sit and read for 3 hours?"
  • Chris Abani, Coral Bracho, Forrest Gander, Edward Hirsch, and Patricia Smith had a great discussion about the relative and complementary values of reading and of listening as ways to acquire poems. Forrest Gander makes a great hillbilly. Ed Hirsch doesn't rap. Coral Bracho's poems are beautiful to listen to, even if mi vocabulario es muy pequeno. Patricia Smith can write a sonnet. Chris Abani summed it all up: "A good poem aims to be misunderstood."

Favorite moments so far: Dovie Thomason gently but firmly tearing down the stage and lighting at the first event of the festival to make it "suitable for a storyteller, rather than a poet". Poets adjusting their presentations and selections based on real-time feedback, thanking the audience for "playing along", digging out seldom-read poems because they fit with a theme the crowd had wandered in with our questions. Discovering cranberry-pistachio biscotti. Finding friends' books on sale in the Borders tent; catching up with those friends before and after the readings.

I ran out of energy shortly into the evening readings. More download (and maybe some links above) to come tomorrow.


Rethabile said...

"A good poem aims to be misunderstood."

I'll have to think this one through.

David V said...

Possible it made more sense in context, though Abani's a bit of a stream-of-consciousness presenter, so I'm not sure how much context there was. He's brilliant, so I'm inclined to trust him.

Rethabile said...

He's brilliant alright, which is why I want to look at this more closely. I have a friend who may have been there when this was said. I'll wait for them to make it back and tell us.