I am happily home after a wonderful, exhausting trip away. My lap-top was dying and the internet connection not satisfactory so I could rarely post and perhaps that is the way it should be. I was in a valley, a place to interact and reflect. Actually, I feel like I was dissolved and now it is time to put myself back together in a new, more open and edgy way.
I have so many thoughts, so much to share, and perhaps I will begin with the power of poetry. Poetry is meant to incite and invite action. This conference alternates each year between experimental and more formal work. This was the experimental year. How do we wake people up?
I will be sharing the material once I get it organized. I have notebooks and notes scattered all over the place. I want to emphasize that there are people writing. We need to listen, buy and then read their books, and act. Where I stayed there were three fiction writers, another poet, and a spouse of a fiction writer. The fiction writers were stunned by the ferocity of the poets. I really "got" that throughout history the poets have led the way. They are not there to comfort. They are meant to poke, prod and be a pain in the gut and heart. They are our conscience, and I Nick Flynn, Claudia Rankine, and Brenda Hillman are masters at that. I was too tired to hear Mark Doty speak, but I understand from the fiction writers that he was more gentle and accessible. Brenda Hillman wears her code pink t-shirt and is in Washington and Berkeley demanding peace. We need actions as well as words.
Nick Flynn spoke on bewilderment. Remember these words of G. W. Bush, the night before we invaded Iraq, 2003
“The outcome of the current crisis is already determined.”
“The mistakes are there, waiting to be made.”
Savielly Tartakower, chess grandmaster