My Blue Muse Writing Life

October 4, 2004

Dodge Part Deux, Part Deux

We got here much earlier to day. Definitely more relaxed. No need to walk as quickly through wet grass and hay. Pant check: only bits of grass and mud.

So here’s what we attended on Saturday:

Going Public With Private Feelings:
Stephen Dunn, Edward Hirsch, Jane Hirshfield, Galway Kinnell

1) Value private feeling accurately, discard inessential to reveal the “yes” for our readers. 2) He never writes for an audience.
3) Excludes everything he’s working on to try to understand, to bring into being something satisfying.

1) Writing can be a “vicious acts of exposure.”
2) Know it can be excruciating.
3) “If you found compassion would you still put it out there?”
4) Give yourself freedom to write.
5) Wildness in subject, inclusion with ever farther ranges of things.

1) Ethically conscious.
2) Don’t censor.
3) They’ll get over it.
4) There’s something ruthless about making poetry.
5) Language is always public; there is always a reader on the horizon.
6) It takes “Chutzpah”!

1) Transform rather than just utter, if a poem is too private then it is a poem that has “failed.”
2) “The merely personal rots.” Yeats
3) Poetry is the only ART where kids don’t think they need to practice and take the craft seriously.
4) He tells his college classes: I’m “already bored by their feelings.”

Poets Among Us:
Ralph Black-we came in late, but he seemed great
Suji Kwock Kim-excellent
Donna Masini-also excellent

Just ate lunch same thing as yesterday. It’s so amazing to think that everyone here is for the same reason! Love of Poetry! I even ran into an old workshop mate standing in line for the women’s restroom. I was going in, she was going out. She’s in DC now in the George Mason MFA program. I was sad we didn’t trade email addys. Perhaps, I’ll run into her again before it’s time to leave. At lunch I met a couple of poets form Princeton and we had a nice chat.

Sensory Overload:
the cat pee smell in the hotel hallway
the reek of wet hay underfoot
the flies and yellow jackets
the squelch of mud
uncanned laughter
the smell of threatening rain
Pan People Steel Orchestra
the sound of applause
the chorus of crickets
the smells from the food tent
the sound of poetry everywhere

Paul Muldoon-wonderful presentation
Jane Hirshfield-such a presence!

Conversation: Poetry and Class
Lucille Clifton, Philip Levine, Joyce Carol Oates, Franz Wright
PL: He wanted to write for his old workmates but getting them to read it was hard. They viewed him as snooty and betraying his class as an academic, when they were the subject of his poems.
LC: Feeling is beyond language even if you don’t understand you can feel it. “It’s not what they call you it’s what you answer to.” She says academia is working class. Write for those who can’t speak for themselves. “The Quilt that does not have my square is not a complete quilt.” “I come to comfort the afflicted and to afflict the comfortable.”
JCO: Since 1950’s irony, disappointed idealism, complexity is what defines a poem. Compares T.S. Eliot to WCW. Poet and poet lovers have a hunger to read, have to find poetry. Hart Crane was a technical genius who learned by reading the Elizabethans and Rimbaud.
FW: He didn’t seem to think poetry had anything to do with class. You can make a living as a poet if you do an MFA, eat up all the little fishies, and teach at an MFA program. He says the problem of poetry in this country is mediocrity that MFA programs render bad poetry. Reading is everything. It’s a hunger that needs to be satisfied. Wade through the bad stuff, but you can find it (good poetry, that is). Thinks you should find a mentor instead of getting an MFA.

My response: I ask what established poet is going to take me, for example, under their wing? If there are “500,000” writing programs, that must mean there are a lot of fledgling poets wanting to take up the space a few dozen poets. We’re talking The Gods here.
So I wind up more confused than ever if I should get an MFA or not.

We decided to stay for the evening festivities. We were too tired last night to come back. Martin said if we go home we won’t come back. It’s as simple as that and I agreed. I’m glad now we stayed. We’re listening to a great jazz duo while I write. Fantastic really. I need to pause and listen. … The music commands it. I love that. Like good poetry.
Anyway, it didn’t rain. Forecast predicted thunderstorms, but they never came. Even some of the mud has turned to clay. Pants check: not too bad.

Cecilia Vicuna-fantastic, called a “Shamanic Chilean”
Edward Hirsch-Great, great, great!
Joyce Carol Oates-such presence, also
Philip Levine (with Dave Douglas & Uri Caine a jazz duo)-fantastic

Marriage, A Conversation in Poems
Galway Kinnell & Sharon Olds-really beautiful, stayed for most of it.

Posted by mybluemuse at October 4, 2004 4:14 PM

Pan People!! they were so awesome...

I was disappointed not to be able to hear Stephen Dunn in one of the conversations, as i Heard the second half of his readings on thursday, but oh well.

Did you see or hear Coleman Barks at all? He had such a melodic voice, and I really liked what he was saying.

(sorry, i'm just cruising the net, and I found your site when i googled pan people, looking for info on them, I'm a hs student that went to dodge on thursday)

Posted by: Yuki at October 17, 2004 8:35 PM

Just saw this! Yes, Pan People were such a welcome presence at the Festival.

I actually didn't hear Coleman Barks except the two poems he read at the Poetry Sampler on Friday.

Thanks for stopping by!


Posted by: PJ Taylor at October 21, 2004 9:45 AM
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