18 January 2006

Skull of cow, and more!

Little time to blog here in Chile, and so much happening. Tomorrow afternoon I deliver my seminar "The List Poem as a Language-Teaching Tool" at English Summer Town, a two-week conference for Chilean teachers of English. A little anxious about it, but it'll likely go well.

The workshop has been fantastic, and I'm really excited about the work my "kids" are doing, especially now in Week 2. Everyone is pushing beyond what they'd previously done in writing, and have delved deeper. I continue to be amazed that they put up with me, but I assume the fact that they do means they're pleased with their work. A nice bonus is that I've been writing a fair amount in the workshop myself and will have a neat mass of stuff to deal with when I get home, when I get home.

Yesterday we took a day trip to Valparaiso, a very large seaport city where Neruda had yet another of his houses. The house was pretty neat, but the city was especially exciting. Very hilly, with 15 funiculars, a cemetery atop a hill, houses built in the most precarious places. Did an hourlong boat tour of the harbour, and while the Spanish tour-guiding was out of my range, I really enjoyed the crazy trip. Think I might spend a few days in that city to round off this trip, after the workshop is done.

Which I'm sad about -- that this workshop ends in just a few days. But I'll continue to put that out of my mind.

I've been having some great conversations with Susan about poetry, about the retreat, about the workshop. Really enjoying meeting with her about her poems, too. She is pushing way beyond the limits of the rhyming mostly light verse she'd been doing before. I love it when people surprise even themselves.

Monday, I went into Santiago to wander a bit. I really feel the need to get out there every two or three days, and connect with Chileans in the city. Rounds off the experience beautifully for me. Explored Cerro Santa Lucia, this incredible structure downtown that stretches way way up, with winding stone staircases and interesting nooks and crannies everywhere. Tons of young couples making out: Susan explains that most of them live in such close quarters that teens need to go to public places like that to get some privacy.

We wound up at The Crazy Bar (I kid you not), where a guy named Andreas was playing guitar and singing Chilean songs, Silvio Rodrigues, the Beatles, and even My Way. He was amazing, and the feeling in the bar was so upbeat. I approached Andreas after and praised him in my faltering Spanish and he was very gracious. Just about everyone in this country has been gracious, smiling, and helpful. Perhaps because there aren't a huge number of tourists? Perhaps because they just elected a promising new president, a woman, a leftist? I dunno.

At my favourite bookshop, Heavy Metal, in Santiago, a guy there recognized me and told me he'd enjoyed the poetry leaflet I'd left them with last weekend. I couldn't believe he remembered. We had a little chat and he recommended a poet I'd never heard of. Bought it, and will try to make my way through it when I get home. Again, everyone was so friendly in the bookstore. Magical place, this Chile.

This evening, Alejandra, the very young poet whose parents work here on the parcela, came over before dinner for a read-around at the patio table. We all read a couple of poems to her in English and she read a few of hers in Spanish again. Great time. Frank stood up and read some bombastic satirical pieces about the church. Eileen read her excellent new poem about the moon. Barbara read her pantoum, and it was fun to hear her explain in Spanish what a pantoum was. Merle chose not to read her own stuff, instead reading several poems by Charles Bukowski! Most in the group had never heard of him before, but everyone seemed to like him. If only they knew....

Los Parronales is a fascinating place: great paths, cows, vineyards, horses, dilapidated old houses and barns awaiting renovation or the wrecking ball, the beautiful main house, trees and cacti all around, and the occasional cow skull in distant corners of the fields.

Gotta get me some sleep now. Big day in the big city tomorrow.

Thanks for reading.

Over and out.


At January 20, 2006 9:17 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Having serious crumbling brick envy.


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