March 15, 2010

Split this Rock, Friday, March 12, Workshops

I really could have just stayed in bed, no one is taking attendance, but the workshop selections are so good, if I could be 2, or 3 people at once, I would be. As they used to say at the school dances, one has got to make a choice. So the first of the day’s workshop was one on teaching creative writing to war veterans, at the Thurgood Marshall Center. The panel members all were involved in running writing workshops for veterans, one was a Viet Nam vet (George Kovach), the others young women (Lovella Calica, Laren McClung) & the moderator, Cathy Che. As at any of these workshops, the involvement of the audience is as important as the “expertise” of the panel members. There was a wide range of ages from 20-somethings up to the grizzled-grey like me, & included therapists & folks involved in all kinds of community literary (& therapeutic) programs. I picked up an interesting journal called Consequence Magazine  & heard about projects like Warrior Writers  & the “combat papers” project.

From there on to Busboy & Poets Langston Room for the panel discussion on Documentary Poetry with Martha Collins, Mark Nowak & Philip Metres. Martha Collins explores racism from the perspective of a white woman in a book of poems about lynching in Ohioi, & a work in progress “White Papers.” Philip Metres read poems using the photos from Abu Gharib; in the discussion raised the issue of “appropriation” of other’s lives/material versus the necessity to get the word out. Mark Nowak had trouble with the technology & couldn’t show his slides, but continued on with poems about the Chinese miners. It was interesting that a couple of the panelists referenced Muriel Rukeyser’s Book of the Dead. Also a pointed quote from the essay, “My Adventures as a Social Poet,” by Langston Hughes that I now must read.

After a wonderful lunch across the street in Eatonville (tender, juicy barbecued baby back ribs), back to the Thurgood Marshall Center for a discussion of contemporary Chinese poetry by scholar/poet Arthur Sze & Beloit Poetry Journal editor, John Rosenwald. The handout included poems from Bei Dao, Xiao Kaiyu, Gu Cheng, Duo Duo, & Shu Ting. The most recent poem was from 1995, while the rest were from the 1970s. Arthur Sze has edited a book of essays, Chinese Writers on Writing, which has just been published & contains rare contemporary Chinese critical writers in translation. Sze quoted Yu Jen, “poetry is not a noun, but a verb” & “to write real poetry is to repudiate all metaphor.” They also mentioned a forthcoming anthology of contemporary Chinese poetry from Copper Canyon Press, edited by Howard Goldblatt.

If you want more information about each of the workshops/panels & the bios of the presenters, go the Split-this-Rock website.

I’ll be posting a separate entry about the readings later in the evening.

No comments: