Wild Writers Literary Festival

Last Saturday I had the opportunity to attend the Wild Writers Literary Festival,  where I attended a poetry workshop, attended a few panels, and mostly soaked up a day spent with my mother and other book lovers.

First thing in the morning I was part of Amanda Jernigan’s “The Poetry of Change” workshop. We opened with the Odyssey, discussed Shakespeare, and shared poems that had impact on us. I shared Atwood’s “Their Attitudes Differ” while others shared sonnets, nursery rhymes, and other classics. It was very interesting to go around the table and have poets of all ages recite the poem that had influenced them, changed their way of thinking, or spurred them to write.

We discussed change in poetry, how change can be reflected in the text, and ways to induce change in readers. I found this interesting, but went down my own path of contemplation in regard to translation, and the meaning that can be lost or gained after a poem is translated. Many of our most valuable texts are translations, the Bible, the Greek classics, etc, and their passages construct meaning in our contemporary world. I followed this rabbit down its hole for most of the day, which I think means the workshop was a success, as it got me thinking.

Later, I attended a panel on moving from publishing in literary journals to small press. This was interesting, but because I’ve yet to publish anything really, it was more food for thought than actually something I could put into practice.

The last panel I attended was “Falling in Love with Poetry” where writers discussed their first forays and loves in poetry, the poetry that changed and influenced them. This panel was an interesting balance to my morning workshop, and I was able to see the similarities in the passion of published and aspiring poets.

Overall, it was an interesting day, and had me thinking critically about my own work, which is always a positive.

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#NaBloPoMo day 1

 So, for Day 1 (technically yesterday but I worked late!) I’m going to talk about the book that started it all. 

Well, it didn’t start anything as revitalise and streamline things for me poetry-wise. In 2008 I read Atwood’s Power Politics for the first time. Until this book, I’d enjoyed poetry, fancied myself a writer, etc. 

Power Politics changed not only how I viewed poetry but how I viewed the woman’s experience. It seemed to me like the first time a poem was calling out the flaws of relationships, the failings. And Atwood’s voice, which I’d loved in the Handmaid’s Tale, was even stronger here. 

This collection is where her famous poem “you fit into me” can be found. I remember turning to that page for the first time and feeling like I’d taken a shot to the face. The starkness took me aback and the cleverness of the lines had me thinking about it days later. 

(This is all very stream of consciousness, as I’m typing on my phone during my break)

I’ll share one of my favourites from Power Politics:

 

What is it, it does not

move like love, it does

not want to know, it

does not want to stroke, unfold

 

it does not even want to 

touch, it is more like

an animal (not 

loving) a 

thing trapped, you move

wounded, you are hurt, you hurt,

you want to get out, you want

to tear yourself out, I am

 

the outside, I am snow and 

space, pathways, you gather 

yourself, your muscles

 

clutch, you move

into me as though I 

am (wrenching 

your way through, this is

urgent, it is your

life) the

last chance for freedom. 

 

 

I’ve gone on to read as much of Atwood’s poetry as possible, but nothing affects me quite like that first book.