Poetry Weekend



A few weeks ago I went to a poetry weekend near Rochester (on East Hill Farm).
Here are a few excerpts from the journal I kept while I was away to give you a flavour of some of my time spent there…

June 24

I’m just staring into bliss – ferns – a fan of trees hugging the pond on the other side. I’m dumbfounded or is it lulled by the beauty of this place. A very loud wasp is right behind me. The yellow irises are bowing to the pond – are they naturally this droopy or are they dying?

Love and Death. Li-Young Lee says there are no other subjects in poetry – everything else is just dross. I’ll go and pick an iris – I must!

There are so many stories afoot. When you’re out on a farm everyone has a story to tell. Apparently the population of deer is so high in Rochester that they eat all the flowers in the city. You can light the water on fire in the creek near Alice’s place – because of the natural gas. I also heard the story about the chaplain who was two hours late for a wedding.  (That’s a new one.)
Last night’s dinner was East Indian food and watermelon for dessert. Yoga is in ten minutes.

June 25

I’m tired. I don’t want to go to yoga. It’s 5:10 a.m. and I’m on the wraparound veranda. You can see Lake Canadaigua from here. There’s a hundred-year-old oak tree on my right – just gorgeous. Birds are chirping in surround sound.
I stayed up late – I am worried about reading a poem tonight at the soiree. I haven’t written a poem yet that I’d like to share.
I’m thinking about one of the poets in our workshop – her poem was really working. It was a list poem that began, “The one who….”
Alice’s car is just rolling in. Bobo, her black Lab, just said a very welcome hello to me.
I realize that the poem I was trying to revise isn’t going to work: “When no one’s looking I’d like to…” is the refrain. I can’t change it into a poem I’d like to share because it’s about things I don’t want anyone to know about!

June 26

I’m sitting under the maple tree I want to climb. I tried to, but it wasn’t possible to get up on the first branch. I scraped my wrist, which felt wonderful. I haven’t scraped myself “playing” in a long, long time. Did I mention that I saw a deer on the road? They move so quickly you can’t really take it in, but it’s still wonderful. I also saw some brown hares.
For breakfast we had rhubarb crisp, rice porridge (with yogurt and rhubarb sauce), cantaloupe, honeydew and coffee.

This weekend has seemed so incredibly long, because it has been so incredibly rich.
I could look for gifts at the East Hill Gallery – that would be nice. But I can’t afford it. I’ll bring back my poems – maybe that’s enough.
Almost time for poetry. I think I’ll just lie down under this tree for a moment.

Poetry Workshops

Photo by Arthur Radin
We had poetry workshops in the mornings and in the afternoons – writing on different themes which basically boiled down to love and death.
We studied a number of poets (Robert Bly, Louise Gluck, Seamus Heaney, Jane Hirshfield, Jane Kenyon).
We also studied some different forms: ghazals and sonnets as well as looking at how refrains can be used in a poem.
Click here to read more about this poetry weekend. There are all kinds of different creative workshops every summer at the Craft Weekend at the Rochester Folk Art Guild, not just poetry!