Friday, September 29, 2006

Dispatch from Dodge: Friday Sept 29, part 2

After the rain stopped this morning, the sun streamed through gold and amber branches. Just enough to set the ground and the damp benches steaming and to preview winter's chill. A group of musicians from Equador had a stand selling sweaters, ponchos and scarves. I bought a shawl in earth and moss green dyed llama hair. It is soft, light, and warm, like the music they play on multitones pipes and drums.

We sat on the aformentioned (damp) picnic benches eating dinner. Grilled vegetable wrap and sweet potoato fries and the ubiquitous coffee. A poet's favorite drug.

An older couple sits with us; or rather, we invade their space, sit five of us at their picnic table. They are from Virginia and neither teachers nor poets, just a well spoken couple, white haired, retired, who enjoy reading poetry. The husband reads a piece from Linda Pastan about labor and delivery. She had read it earlier this afternoon and I enjoyed his deep voice reading the same words.

We return to the main stage. Inside the great tent envelops us like some yurt constructed of words. There is no cricket singing counterpoint this evening.

Sekou Sundiata's band performs jazz and poetry.

Who knew it would be so exhausting--
this sitting, this listening
with open heart. I struggle
to pick out the words from
the thrumming bass line, chittering
piano notes, distinguish the throb
of drums from my own pulse.
Then I let go and simply hear.
Simply here.

Kurtis Lamkin mesmerizes us with his West African lute/harp--the Kora. He strums it, casually, absently, as he weaves a warp of sound for the weft of words. He takes me on a journey from an African marketplace to a double dutch game on a city street. I feel as if he is whispering in my ear and that it matters to him that I hear it.

I had not heard of Linda Gregg before. I know here words are well crafted. In each piece, a kernal of her authenticity, but she doesn't speak to me. Rather the poems like post card meant for another, land in my mailbox by mistake.

And I end my night with the poetry of Tony Hoagland. He writes between the moments of life's events with unflinching honesty and unflinching humor. It is self-deprecating and biting social commentary.

Perhaps if Philip Levine and Billy Collins had a love child, he would be Tony Hoagland.

Tomorrow is another full day, starting with Coleman Barks reading Rumi with the Paul Winter Consort at 8am. That was a highlight for me from the last Dodge and I don't want to miss it.

More tomorrow from Dodge.


  1. Hi Lisa,

    Leaving very soon, so I should be there around 7:00 pm.

    Here is a post with a picture of me--over to the very right.

    Poets in the Norwegian Arctic

    I decided to wear precisely those clothes to be that much more recognizable. I have a very red windbreaker I may need to put on, though.


  2. I'm glad you'd been able to hear Sekou Sundiata then - I believe I had just missed him this time around. I remember his style of reading well from previous Dodge festivals, though. Sad to know that he's gone.