Friday, September 26, 2008

Dodge Download, Day 2

In order of attendance...
  • More stories in the morning with Dovie Thomason, who argued storytelling is not the sister art to poetry (as the festival literature claims), but rather the grandmother, predating even the cave wall paintings on the festival program cover. She related a Rabbit story to the elections. She made more cogent points than either candidate in the debate (at least the disrespectful bits I caught). "All traditions (in any culture) share the the thought of doing something for future generations."
  • Chris Abani (a late addition to my plans - he blew me away yesterday) covered writing exercise and thinking exercise, Shakespeare and reggae, Britney Spears and Jabberwocky, and the parts of this thesis that referred to Batman. Absolutely the most contentful event thus far for me. "Treat the poem like a pop song. Don't be afraid to throw the poem open and play with the language."
  • Joy Harjo has a million projects going. She shared poems, songs, parts of her play, canoeing stories and the meaning of her name ("So brave you're crazy"). She spoke of tribal and poetry ancestors, joined poetry with other arts, told of learning from the ocean ("don't fight it"). "Do you know who you are? Can you sing it?"
  • The poetry sampler was good, though by this point I'd already heard many of the poems presented.
  • Afternoon panel on Going Public with Private Feelings - featuring Mark Doty, Lucille Clifton, Sharon Olds and Linda Pastan. That's pretty much the "A"-team. Very good dialog on shame, privacy, fear, and other good reasons not to take poems public - but consistently insisting on writing those poems and holding them until they are ripe and you are ready. I have 8 pages of notes from this one. Lucille Clifton: "If we can talk about the awfulness that has happened, we can talk about its complexity."
  • Steve Canfield was engaging and likable, though I'd have stayed away from the Native stories with Dovie already having read at the festival.
  • Evening poets (up to when left) were Brenda Hillman, Franz Wright and Naomi Shihab Nye. Good stuff; my hand was cramped up by then....

Favorite moments: Learning Dodge has launched a You Tube Channel (name: grdodge), finding hot cider at one of the concession stands, having Dovie Thomason sit next to me at an event, lean over and say "You're a good listener. I've seen you.", noticing the fist-sized spider on my notebook before it started up my shirt.

I was already looking forward to tomorrow before deciding I needed some beauty to get the Mets and the debate out of my head. As long as the parking grass and walkways are not hopelessly sloggified after today, it should be great.

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