11 January 2006

Parra vs. Neruda: Match of the Century

The workshop sessions have been going really well. Susan and Gord Siddeley are our hosts at Los Parronales, and the "directors" of this informal retreat, and Susan is also one of the workshop participants. The other participants are Eileen, who I´ve worked with previously at Centauri, and her friend Barb, as well as Merle from Oshawa, and the, um, irrepressible Frank from Yorkshire (there are four Brits in the group!). What a wide range of style, interests, and experience, but what brings everything together is a real dedication to poetry, and to exploring poetry. I think the exploration thing is what poetry is all about.

Already, after just a couple of days, there has been some very fine stuff written, though the writers don´t always agree. Some of what I have them write is pretty weird, some more conventional. They seem to enjoy doing the oddball stuff but find it difficult to consider it "poetry" -- I always find this the biggest challenge in doing workshops. Some of them will come around; for the other, hey, it´s great that they've been enthusiastic enough to try out cut-ups and homolinguistic translations and so on, even if it´s something they'll never employ again.

It´s exciting to think we´ve only had two full days of workshops so far: I know great things will come out of this group.

The other aspect to the workshop is the one-on-one meetings with participants: so far I´ve met with three of them, and it´s felt good. This really is a gang who is interested in discussing the art in depth.

Right now I´m at Isla Negra, a little ways from the Pablo Neruda museum here. We have a group tour in an hour, but it´s been exciting just wandering the streets of the town, having some empanadas con queso y papas fritos estupendos. I´m going to try to duck into a grotty little bar and have a beer before the tour.

Yesterday´s main outing was to a nearby home on a hill. Nice to sit out and have some snacks with the family, and then venture up the hill a little more to see Incan "cups" in the rocks. Supposely used so long ago to hold corn and beans and so forth, but we wondered if they were used to hold blood -- if there was some kinda sacrifice thing involved. No way! we were told. Pretty cool, though: storage vessels, concavities the size of tea cups, right in the rock. There are probably hundreds scattered across that hill.

I´ve been doing some writing here: poems at night (inspired by gunshots: another rabbit bites the dust in the dead of night), some work on my novel (writing about Yellowknife while in Chile!), poems in the workshop (I´ve done about half the projects).

OK, un vaso de Cristal Cerveza awaits me. And then the Neruda museum. I´ve already made it clear to my group that I prefer Nicanor Parra, but I´m getting a new respect for Neruda -- ignore those most popular love poems, and he´s got some dark, surreal, radical stuff going.

Over and out y que rico las empanadas.


At January 11, 2006 2:50 pm , Blogger Kate S. said...

It all sounds amazing. I'm glad that the workshop is going well.


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