Friday, September 29, 2006

Dispatch from Dodge: Friday September 29, part 1

It poured last night, not long after I left the festival to collapse in my hotel room. It rained all night, a gentle rain, a tentative rain that continued on this morning as I drove back for the morning sessions.

Red fox
neither of us can outrace
the rain

Mark Doty spoke about writing as a laboratory, both for the poet and the reader. He reminds us 'you are full of things to say'. That we must explore what bubbles up and consider why it matters. That a poem is something more than lovely, more than description. That poetry is not always a consoling force.

I love his voice--the way his words on the page are fully and uniquely his.

Billy Collins took the main stage at midmorning. He was greeted like a celebrity, like a rock star.

He reminded us that poetry is a home for ambiguity--a place for complexity, paradox, ambiguity, and uncertainty. That poets "are busy doing nothing."

That poetry is the place where prose reaches its limitations.

He urged us to find the poets we were jealous of. I see him as 'coyote'--in the signature playfulness that is an element of his writing.

In the main tent, poet after poet
sings. My head is thick, I sneeze
into my sleeve. Across the row
Billy Collins sits, his arms folded.
After he speaks, he sits back
down looking bored. He rarely
smiles now, though he is playful
as an otter on stage.
During the applause for someone else,
he ducks under the tent flap
taking his poems with him
like the Cheshire cat and his smile.

More later. I am meeting Laurie Byro and her poet friend Maggie Brown for dinner.


  1. I remember hearing Mark and Billy at previous festivals - great readers both. But the best was the time I heard Stanley Kunitz read - and afterwards I was able to get him to sign my copy of his book! He will be missed.

  2. Can't wait to see what comes up with Part 2 - anyway, you should have been here Thursday - there were thousands of high school kids wandering the woods of western New Jersey.

    I've linked to your site at

  3. HI Lisa-
    I've follwed this blog with great envy. I'm going to work even harder to make the trip next year. PS I've take that quote from Billy Collins for my signature at Wild.