Monday, May 31, 2010

Poetry Festival, Part Four

Two weekends ago, La Conner hosted the 6th Biennial Skagit River Poetry Festival. Poets from all over the world (and fans) gave (and attended) talks and workshops all over the town.

Due to the length of the original post, this is the third part of the series--which makes it easier to read. Last post can be found here.

The third set was right after the half an hour lunch break. I had a ticket for a different event (something about Grief and Healing), but I thought the Poetry Slam would be so much better. And it was.
All images are from the Skagit River Poetry Festival poet bio page. I claim no rights to them, and encourage you to see the original page to learn about the poets. 
 The last set was another Poetry Sampler at the Museum of Northwest Art, and had the poets Sherman Alexie, Lorna Crozier, M.L. Smoker, and Michael Dickman. (At least I think I have the right twin named...)

By this time, it seemed like everyone (poets and audience) was getting tired of the day and all the events. There was a sort of heavy energy, and it didn't help that a few students from a few schools started being obnoxious with laughing and clapping.

This set was right after the Poetry Slam, and Sherman and Mandy (Smoker) still had a line stuck in their head from a student poet: "I'm tired of hearing Asians have small dicks; I'm not big or small, but I can still pull chicks."

Sherman commented about the students' courage, and that at that age (15-17) he would never have gone up there and read poetry "let alone about pulling chicks. I think at that age there was the one" he added.

  First up was Sherman, who had a few poems about ants and spiders, and killing them in they were in his house. He also teased that poems with long titles can be shorter than usual. One of the poems he started an intro saying "I travel a lot for my job as a writer. We're all writers; we all end up in La Conner." He even pointed out in La Conner there was a sign saying "Poet Food," and he had no idea that there was a difference between that and what normal people eat.

Lorna had some poems related to being in high school and explained when she was in freshman year (in Canada) there was "such a thing as 'going steady' and the boys would let you wear a cheap ring that had to be held together with tape to stay on your finger. Do you have that here, or do the boys buy you a new ring now?" she joked. Lorna commented how a lot of her poetry in college anthologies has been censored, and she read her poem, Bad Poem, with the idea that you could blame all the crude language on the poem, not the poet. (i.e., the dog farting under the table at a fancy dinner, or humping the leg of the most timid person in the room).

 Mandy had a few somber poems, one related to deaths on a Reservation while she was a principal, and sort of that struggle within a community after that shock of losing someone (or multiple people). She also had a poem called Intertribal, which was about a group of girl cousins that would walk around in a pack having fun (or getting into fights).

Michael asked who had seen his brother earlier that day, and the audience laughed and clapped. "You can tell who has seen my brother, because everyone is like 'yeah!', and then when they see me they're like 'oh...'." He had a poem about how he thought all men were mean, had to join the army, and beat on people (based on his childhood neighborhood), and then he found out it was only Some of the Men. He also reinvented the birth of him and his twin brother, and used awesome imagery about space and astronauts within the womb.

To close the Poetry Sampler, Sherman suggested that they should all create an 8-lined poem going through each poet one line at a time. All of the poets ended up borrowing images and lines from each others poems, and it was really fun to watch the cross-creativity in action. On the second run through the poets (lines 5-8), Michael said "I should have asked what it was before I put it in my mouth," and Mandy had to follow it up. She was at a loss of words to try and not make it worse than it was, and ended up using "And he was an asshole." I really wish I had taped this last segment as well, because it was fun to see the free-form.

Well, hopefully my "reporting" on this year's Skagit River Poetry Festival wasn't too boring, and was actually somewhat entertaining.

I'd like to send a hearty THANK YOU to all of the poets, from all over the world, who took time to migrate to La Conner for the weekend! (The destination of all writers and poets apparently). This thanking is also extended to the Skagit River Poetry Project, and their numerous donors and sponsors. The work that this project does to get poets to come into classrooms, as well as the biennial Festival is excellent and necessary for our communities, and I hope it keeps going for decades from now.

Can't wait for 2012's Festival!

To donate or become a volunteer, I suggest going to their site.

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