Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What Festival Participants are Saying About Split This Rock 2010

Doug Carter at the BitLit blog of the Rose O'Neill Literary House[Photo Credit: Jill Brazel]:
The children of American, Vietnamese, or Chinese soldiers, these six rising poetic stars showed us how war extends itself into the domestic sphere of life. The poems demonstrated the curiosity of children who understand “war” is not a dinner-table subject, and the spiritual strength of adults who have the power to imagine the truth. These writers owe not only their creative impetus, but also their lives, to the war. Without the war, Cathy Linh Che said, many of us would not have been poets, we would not have lived in the U.S., and we would not have been born. As one panelist recited poems about her childhood experiences with her father, she came to the line “I don’t like you very much today,” then thanked our crowd and invited the next panelist up to read. She sat in front of me. During the remainder of the reading, I watched the panelist cry. I guess another really awesome thing about festivals like this is how they make you want to write. I foresee a poem in a word document, one about a girl reading a poem. Maybe her mouth will be an almond blossom. Maybe her words will be petals, and her tears, pearls of silk.

From Dan Wilcox, Split This Rock Panelist [Photo Credit: Jill Brazel]:
Time for dinner & a drink & then back to the Bell Multicultural High School for the evening's reading. Mark Nowak gave a reading with slides, touching on the Sago mine disaster & mining accidents in China, in what is being called documentary poetry. Lillian Allen, who lives in Canada, performed her poems in the tradition of "Dub poetry," reggae rhythms & the early roots of hip-hop. She took on the lingo & dance rhythms of the islands, mixing in sound patterns with the words, in such poems as "Limbo Dancer," poems about women in prison, in housing projects & giving birth, even a love poem ("would love to make a revolution with you").

Francisco Aragon's poem were mostly short, evoked the spirit of Garcia Lorca & Ernesto Cardenal. His poems to us "To Madrid," & Rome ("The Tailor"), & a strange slant translation of Rilke, "Torso." Nancy Morejon is from Cuba (& the Cuban ambassador was in the house). She read her poems in Spanish, then in translations done by others, often touching on the Afro-Cuban themes of slavery & oppression, but in the rich, colorful images often found in poetry from the Caribbean.

Patricia Spears Jones, another 2010 Panelist, shared the following thoughts [Photo Credit: Jill Brazel]:
I want to thank Patricia Monoghan and Michael McDermott, the co-founders of Black Earth Institute for inviting me to join this year's panel. Along with Patricia, Annie Finch, Judith Roche and Richard Cambridge, I spoke a panel, Speaking for the Silenc(e)d and of course, being the gentle contrarian that I am I spoke about listening--that we who speak are often speaking to indifferent, hostile or simply deeply ignorant audiences and that we have to start thinking of new ways to open ears. The panel was rich in information and deep connection to a rnage of communities from Annie's talk on collaboration in her Wolf Song project; Judith's work with incarcerated girls; and Richard's discussion of the media's mindset vis a vis our un-neighborly relationship with Cuba. Our audience was terrific--I got to meet Tracy Chiles McGhee and all the way from NYC, Marie Elizabeth Mali and Victoria Sammartino--teachers, arts group organizers, librarians, poets all. Patrica M. opened up the room for discussion and poetry and Victoria read an amazing piece about the incarcerated girls that she has worked with. It was deeply moving.

No comments: