Saturday, September 27, 2008

Dodge Download, Day 3

In order of attendance...
  • Early morning Rumi with Coleman Barks and friends was its usual self, replete with Sufi mysticism, home and ancient wisdom, and Nazradeen (or Bubba?) jokes. Video doesn't really do this event justice. "Putting Rumi to Bach. It's almost enough."
  • Morning panel on Poetry and Invention. Brenda Hillman stated that even her experiments are informed by her experience as a woman. Forrest Gander quoted D. H. Lawrence and Richard Feynman. Coral Bracho noted that two people looking at the same photo see different things when looking through their own filters. C. D. Wright reminded that discomfort and literary invention go hand in hand. They like literary invention, but aren't crazy about infusing literary works with other forms of invention. Forrest Gander:" When people are discomfited, they grab onto the familiar, which is rarely transfiguring."
  • Susan Jackson: "What a savage thing this writing down is. How it makes us believe this world will last." BJ Ward (an long-time favorite, after someone called out "Beautiful!" in response to his poem: "(Since) The poem exists between us, if you're seeing beauty there, there must be beauty in you." Luke Warm Water (likening his career to Rolling Stones lyrics: "This may be my last reading ... I'll walk away before they make me run."
  • More stories with Dovie Thomason. The infusion of modern stories really deepens the experience of listening to her. From a discussion with a counterpart at NASA: "Why do you call it Mars? We're not in Rome. We don't need a war god in the sky. Maybe it's red like love, not red like blood. How do you know it's a guy?
  • Quick quote from Steve Sanfield I forgot to include yesterday: "How many of you consider yourselves storytellers? What are the rest of you, fools?"
  • Coral Bracho with Forrest Gardner: Bracho's poem "Water" was presented several times in parts before reaching the main stage today in its entirety. In the original Spanish, it's an amazing aural experience. Gander's translation is entertaining and accomplished, but it sounds like a completely different poem. Gander on the creating of poems: "There may be a narrative, but there are all these clues that suggest a deeper meaning"
  • Like Forrest Gander, Peter Cole is both a poet and a translator, and he says that "may explain the extra bed in my hotel room". His work is heavily influenced by biblical and Jewish history. "Better a little suffering than too much cure."
  • Chris Abani suggested people not clap but "just sit there with the poems. It's sort of more fun for (you) that way." He read much of what he'd presented in smaller readings. Jim Haba commented about Abani after his reading that he "likes writing poems, and in his novels he gets to write a lot of poems."
  • Afternoon session on Poetry and Healing. Linda Pastan believes that "if death is everywhere, we might as well make marry it to beauty." Ed Hirsch sees applications for poetry in individual and collective healing. Mark Doty sees the healing poem a visible repair to a valued thing. Said Doty: "For most of us, poetry starts in struggle. You start writing and invariably come to a phrase that makes you stop and think 'I can do this better' and suddenly you have a little distance - sometimes the only distance you are able to get at that moment."

I wrapped up the day listening to Dovie Thompson. I departed with a few minutes left to her story, so I could take a little longing with me, to help me look forward to next time.

Favorite moments: The rooster joke, learning why NASA needs storytellers, new poems from BJ Ward, sitting next to someone grading math papers while listening to poems, meeting my family for dinner at the end of the day.

My brain is full.

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