April 12, 2016

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Amok at the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival: I

Dodge expected 5,000 high schoolers from around the country at this year’s Student Day.
The energy on Student Day (Thursday -- it’s free for preregistered students and teachers) is crazy. 5,000 creative, lit mag geeks, song-writers, book worms, would-be graphic novelists gathered up with teens just like them.
Meeting the Heroes of Poetry for the first time: Sharon Olds, Billy Collins, Charles Simic, Lucille Clifton. It’s like getting a tour of the Poetic Super Friends’ Hall of Literary Justice. Sometimes it feels like the big green tent over the main stage is going to levitate.
I missed Student Day this year. My friend, poet and teacher Michael Z Murphy, is a Festival Assistant. He’s going to fill us in as soon as he dries his clothes – it rained all four festival days. To whet your appetite…
I was a high school senior in October, 1986. My wild, weird creative writing teacher took us on a field trip to the very first Dodge Poetry Festival. I still have my journal.
Here’s what 17-year-old me wrote as I was listening to the poets (two found poems?):
notes on sonia sanchez tie up your thoughts, subject with what’s going on real business, honesty and truth can’t bring dishonesty into poetry (white horse in background) perfume around america – east coast subtle racism day is not real…waking up dark and going into light extra words thrown in also etcetera whatever you know notes on galway kinnell in a country church “the spinning girl” feeling liquid the naked fat girl use of size to describe poe, whitman & emily dickinson understanding your subject fully within self on feeling small mortal acts and mortal words things you know no pure description And stuck between some love angst about my boyfriend (now husband), I found this: “the festival was brilliant. I adore sonia sanchez and a dozen other new names who are more than names to me. it’s as if their faces were magic wands that immediately brought me upward.
It’s 22-years later. I woke up at 4:30 AM Friday to make the rainy, four-hour drive to Stanhope, NJ. I was listening to Joy Harjo read by 10:30. Worth it? Harjo had my answer. She said, “Each sound makes a path back to the place of origin.”
More from my place of origin – northern NJ/physical birthplace, Dodge Festival/poetic birthplace – tomorrow.
Poet Joy Harjo’s blog: Website:
Here’s a taste of Harjo's wonderful chant/poem: “She Had Some Horses.”
She had some horses. She had horses who were bodies of sand.
She had horses who were maps drawn of blood.
She had horses who were skins of ocean water.
She had horses who were the blue air of sky.
She had horses who were fur and teeth.
Read the rest of the poem here:
Kids’ Lit friends – Harjo has a children’s book coming out soon. “Poems for a Girl Becoming”

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