Thursday, September 28, 2006

Dispatch from Dodge, Thursday, September 28th

I am here again, a journey of 277 miles that took two years.

I come to Dodge alone; this is a deeply meditative thing I do, take 4 days from my life and immerse myself in the magic of words. No family to tend, no dog to walk, no patients to care for. This is time I give to myself.

Leaves slap
against the tent roof
fat, dry raindrops

Juggling a backpack, poetry books, a plastic cup of iced tea, a sandwich, I find a picnic table with space to sit. Another poet shares his space with me. We talk. He is from Massachusetts also.

We exchange names.

He recognizes mine from this blog.

In the silence between breaths
a cricket sings

In the main tent, we listen to Glen Valez and Lori Cotler.

Alone, each is a skilled musician. Together they make magic.

Then they are joined by Ekiwah Adler-Belendez. Ekiwah is supposed to read after the musicians are finished, but he asks them to play while he reads. He reads as they play. It is a dance and we witness this new creation where words no longer follow music with polite applause between them, now they cannot be prised apart. A fusion of sound and sense, both sharing a passion, sparking new meaning in each.

and the cricket sings
and the poet chants
and the drum beats
and we hear the heart
beneath the words

Linda Hogan reads from her older work and links cultures and time. One of the pieces she reads is about the corn dance and it took my breath away.

The sides of the tent shimmy,
bringing the night inside.
When did the sun set?
I haven't been sitting here long,
certainly not long enough for darkness
to claim my sharp sight.
Words dizzy me, the earth spins
turning beneath me, the coriolus wind
nosing its way against my hand
like a lovesick dog.

I am jazzed up on coffee and poetry--a potent combination. I need to sleep. Five hours in the car have left me achy and bleary-eyed. But I stay for one more poet. Brian Turner reads from "Here, Bullet," the collection that won the 2005 Beatrice Hawley Award.

He earned his MFA and served in the US army for 7 years, most recently in Iraq. His poems have the power to both wound and cauterize, delight and terrify. After his reading, I have to return to the hotel. I am filled, saturated. Poetry leaks from me like light around a cracked casement.

I have forgotten what it was like to be here.

I am here again.


  1. The rain finally came in heavy during Gerald Stern's reading competing with his voice. It made little riverlets running down the slope between the chairs. Folks picked up their bags from the floor as they realized what was happening.

  2. I am so glad you are enjoying the festival. Of course I'd be gladder were it me (grins). Soak it all up and come back with stories, poems and dreams.

  3. How I wish I could be there, too!

    four day retreat --
    I forget the song
    the wind plays

    (p.s. I mentioned your trip to Dodge and your blog entry on my blog:

  4. I know how you feel. I just finished two days painting with pastels at a pastel workshop. I was just exhausted when I got home on Wed. Two of my works are on my Blog (thanks to you!) You are my model of self indulgence! Even if the indulgences are months apart!

    I'll be celebrating my birthday in Atlanta next weekend...Hugs...LK

  5. I'll be there at Waterloo tomorrow (Saturday), maybe I'll see you among the crowds.


  6. Whole Foods. You forgot to mention that without the cooperation of Whole Foods these lines would not be possible. The revolution shops at Whole Foods!

  7. Lisa,

    It was great to meet you at Dodge. Lovely to read your thoughts here about one day's events.

    I've yet to pull anything together expect a few comments on my blog about Billy Collins.

    The Dodge experience was an amazing one.

    Billy Collins' Conversations on Craft alone was worth the price of admission. Hard for me to articulate at this point exactly what being there meant to me.

    Did you ever see Being There?
    Great film!

    I drove 860 miles yesterday to get back home (at least it wasn't pouring down rain all the way home!) and didn't pull into my driveway until 11:45 p.m.

    Still felt the wheels spinning beneath my feet for hours afterwords so didn't go to bed until after 2 a.m. Can't believe I actually made it to work this morning at 8!

    I'll check back in here to catch up on more of your thoughts.

    Again, it was a pleasure to meet you and to be in your company, and I do hope to see you again in 2008!