Monday, November 5, 2007

Mighty Tieton: The LitFuse report

This past weekend, I traveled to Tieton, Washington with the intrepid Kathleen Flenniken (who drove) and Susan Rich. There, in a small town amid orchards growing gold in late autumn, we met up with poets from all over the state and even Pennsylvania.

I was staying at my aunt and uncle's house, and my uncle pointed out that I really needed a vehicle instead of walking into town.

On Saturday, I drove my borrowed silver pickup truck toward town, turned on Sharp Road (wasn't the route on the map, but I love Sharp Road), and got lost. Or, shall we say, took a very circuitous route. It was sunny and gold and Mount Clemens rose over the valley and I made it to the workshop in time for coffee. Goodness.

After the opening group meditation, I took a morning class with Kathleen on "Taking the Dross Out"—how to figure out what really needs to be in your poem.

At lunch, we dragged chairs out into the parking area and soaked up the sun. It was warm and the sky stayed blue both days.

In the afternoon, I had my first taste of typesetting in the letterpress section. I was instantly enthralled. Something tactile that even I could do.

Then we attended a panel on (and I paraphrase) the role of the poet in the American Empire.

At dinner's end, Susan spoke of her experiences and read poems. That sounds very light. It wasn't light. It was moving.

We strolled back to the warehouse under a sky of many stars and watched the movie "Voices in Wartime," which discusses the role that poetry holds in conflict.

By then, it was late—and dark. So dark. So dark that I took another circuitous route home. Clearly, I am not a cartographer and certainly not a navigator.

On Sunday morning (after another long road into town), we printed our set type. We stepped on the pedal, placed the paper, and then rolled it over the printer bed. Awesome! I dubbed myself "the printer pig," mostly because everyone else was busy chatting.

Later, I sat in on Cody Walker's session on synesthesia in poetry. We dragged our chairs out to the deck to bask in the sun and discussed Dickinson and Baudelaire and some very astute middle school students.

The weekend wrapped up with an open mike and a closing meditation. After that, we watched the sun drift down as we drove west toward Seattle.

A fine weekend, indeed. If LitFuse is lit next year, be sure to be there.


ka said...

Thanks for sharing this. It sounds absolutely incredible.

I'd love to hear more about Kathleen's class. How do you know what really needs to be in a poem?

Thanks for this, J.


Peter said...

Sounds like a great time. And the weather cooperated, too! Wish I could have been there.

Joannie said...

ka & peter,

Next year, I'll try to bring back pictures--but I hope you'll join me there instead.

LitFuse is also thinking about or planning a fiction workshop, and even though I do not have the necessary fiction-writing genes, I'm thinking of trying to go anyway, incognito.