Saturday, September 30, 2006

Dispatch from Dodge, Saturday September 30, part 1

Technical difficulties have plagued blogging today. This is the third time I have tried to complete this post, only to have my trusty laptop flash a brief and thoroughly unsatisfying and confusing error message and reboot, taking the beginings of this post with it.

Now that I am stopping to save the post as a draft, the computer will undoubtedly behave.

My ears echo with the wail of a saxophone and the chorus of wolfsong, but that is from this evening's events and for part 2 of this dispatch.

It is nearly tomorrow, but I will begin with this morning.

I woke early, the fog in my brain met and matched by a ground fog that filled the shallow basin of the valley where the Dodge Festival is held. It swirled around our ankles like the collective exhale of a thousand poets.

In the main tent, sleepy poets sipped coffee and woke up to Coleman Barks and the Paul Winter Consort.

The Water Wheel
By Rumi (1207-1273)
Translated by Coleman Barks

Stay together, friends.
Do not scatter and sleep.

Our friendship is made
of being awake.

The waterwheel accepts water
and turns and gives it away,

That way it stays in the garden,
whereas another roundness rolls
through a dry riverbed looking
for what it thinks it wants.

Stay here, quivering with each moment
like a drop of mercury.

I have heard him before--last Dodge, in '04, the Rumi sessions with the Consort were one of the highlights of my experience and I was eager to hear them again. He repeated many of the same poems I had heard before and they were sweeter still for the familiarity.

One of my favorite lines:

"Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are a hundred ways to kneel and kiss the ground."


And the music of the Paul Winter Consort carried me on its wide river of sound.

Later in the day, I wrote this.

The musical interludes frame the poetry
like auditory bookends. Or like a long
pull of cool water. I drink in cello
and upright bass, a deep river
where old man carp swims, one lazy
fin flicking as he glides. I am a vessel
made for sound; my mouth opens
and notes pour down my gullet
into the belly beneath.

In a small tent, Ekiwah Adler-Belendez, Kurtis Lamkin, and Brian Turner talk about 'going public with private feelings'. They riff off one another like an old jazz trio. Poetry is an act of courage, alchemy--transmuting pain and anger into beauty.

As the day wears on, I take fewer and fewer notes, unable to listen, feel, process, and write at the same time.

Ko Un takes the stage with a poet translator and a speaking translater. He is from Korea and speaks as if we understood everything he said. And maybe we do. His body language and his voice intonations are so expressive, I connect with him even without a common language.

I listen to him, first in his native tongue, then in translation and I think that my poet friend Gary would love to be sitting here. Beauty and humor twine in short poems and long. And I marvel that he can laugh, having been a political prisioner in his life.

"A thousand drops
hanging from a dead branch.
The rain did not fall for nothing."
--Ko Un

To have heard this man after the morning's Rumi is to feel the soul of 2 poets separated by centuries, culture, and language, joined by spirit.

One of the astounding things about Dodge is that the speakers and performers mill and meander around the huge tents and foodsellers with everyone else. Standing outside the main tent, I find Lori Cotler and Glen Velez. They welcome me into their conversation and I am trying not to gush over how much I enjoyed their performances. I buy two of their CDs and get a photo taken with them, get a hug from Lori.

I plan to attend Billy Collins' talk about the craft of poetry, but I am filled again and return to the hotel to sleep.

I put "Rhythms of Awakening" in my computer and meditate to the thrumming and the drumming and the rising and falling vocals.

When the music is over, darkness had fallen and I was confused again about the passage of time.

1 comment:

  1. Ko Un was great during his afternoon reading, and he nearly brought down the main tent when he came up as the last reader of that evening.

    I posted a picture of him (and of the two other early afternoon poets) on my blog. More to come.