I am home again.
This weekend was all about words; their music, their beauty. Words and the essential, crucial importance of words.
Dodge '10 was a gift. And a gift that was nearly taken away before it could be wrapped and offered. I am beyond grateful that Dodge happened.
All weekend long, people were talking about the new venue. "What do you think of Newark?" was often a topic of conversation. My reading of the consensus was that the venue had some advantages and some disadvantages. No one missed the mud, though even I was a bit nostalgic for the cold rain and leaky tents in both '04 on the Duke estate and '06 at Waterloo Village. There was something of a camaraderie of misery with all of us huddling for warmth and comfort.
I think that the Dodge foundation and NJPAC did a great job putting together an urban poetry village. Of course the beautiful weather was a plus. :) And the poetry. Glorious poetry. Well, that is the joy of Dodge in any venue.
My own opinion is that the urban setting made the festival more accessible to more people, especially those who might have only been able to come for one day, or at best a part of Dodge. Having such easy mass transit access across NJ and in and out of NY was a bonus.
The organization was superb with plenty of volunteers available to give directions or other needed information. I loved the free shuttle into the Ironbound section of Newark. Yummy food to be had there!
The main stage at NJPAC is a thing of beauty. With amazing acoustics. My ONE main complaint was the assigned seating. In the old venue, the main tent allowed for mingling and an ability to come and go from event to event on a more casual basis. There was an almost uncomfortable formality about the rigid seating that made it difficult to make new friends 'on the fly' and attend the main stage readings with them. I missed that about previous festivals.
I would also have liked to see some seating (picnic benches?) or some small tents on the common/park by the main food court across the street from NJPAC. There were very few people congregating there. In fact, several festival goers I spoke with didn't realize there were more food choices there. It would have been nice to have some more informal venues for public/open readings. That would have been a good place to have them.
I *loved* all the recycling centers. Kudos to Dodge for working toward a greener festival.
One last sadness: there was no morning Rumi or Coleman Barks. I really missed those early morning sessions.
Overall, thumbs up to Newark on bringing poetry to the city, and welcoming all of us with open arms. I am renewed. I am inspired. I am peaceful and fierce, full of words.
I am counting down to '12.