Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Last Day

I was sitting outside the Stone Science building, watching a far-off soccer game on the quad and the occasional person walking down the sidewalk. So many of these people seem so close and intimate yet I'll forget their names in a few days, forget what they looked like, what we talked about. Six such intense days. Even if we stay in touch, as we say we will, it will all be different.

Baron was, as always, wonderful in our last workshop. I asked if you shouldn't "know" what a poem was about, the subject matter of it. Just like JBH, he said no. That was the thing about art; it isn't necessary to "know" or to figure out the "meaning." He said in his two books on writing poetry the word "mean" does not appear; it isn't important. Just like JBH always kept telling me and I keep forgetting. Open yourself to the experience without judgement; that's how you grow. To search for meaning is reductive, Baron said. To be open is expansive.

I asked him how to know when a piece of writing is an essay or a poem, and he said it would become obvious the more I wrote.

I can't get over how much like JBH he is. They laugh in the same places of discussion, they both come from the same sensibilities.

When will I learn and remember that things fall into place in their own time? Baron came, completely unexpected and unplanned, at just the perfect time.

As I expected, he said to unpack the poem "Return," and to write more about the last two stanzas of "River Blues." And here I was certain that "River Blues" was finished. But I can see his point and even see now where I could expand it to make it more powerful.

Write more, he told me during our conference. He said what marked the professional from the amateur was the use of big words like "time," "world," "justice," "we." That amateurs indicated, filled in the blanks, used a kind of shorthand rather than delving deeper into the language. I swear I learned more this week than I did in one whole semester getting my MFA. And that's saying a lot.

He lives here in Vermont, in a round house. He said it made him more aware of the space around him. And that he only does these types of workshops once or twice a year, so it doesn't get boring.

A beautiful day today, sunny. Last night I went to the ice cream social. Yep, they served Ben & Jerry's. I got some butter pecan and walked back to Dewey Hall with Cathy. Everyone was going to tell ghost stories, but I didn't want to stay and listen. I figured if they told a ghost story about Dewey Hall I'd lay awake all night thinking about it. Instead I started packing.

Last night I got online and ordered $71.00 worth of Nutriberries and those little chew toys the cockatiels like, especially Flash. sigh . . . .

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