Yesterday I attended the first New Hampshire Poetry Fest and it was great. This was my first poetry fest experience so it was kind of nice that it was also the first fest for NH. There was great poetry, conversation, and inspiration. Plus I got to spend a lot of time with a few of my friends, including a delicious lunch.
A key part of the day was attending a workshop. There were a few choices and one had to preregister for which workshop they would attend. I chose:
Obsession in Poetry
Instructor: Tim Liardet
Many writers use the obsessive nature of language to give their work power and duende. In this workshop, students will be encouraged to understand how obsession can be a driving force for poets; to explore their own obsessions in order to be better able to tap into them when writing poems.
The group will consider several great poems with obsessive drive, and what elements make them successful. Having done that, they will be encouraged to write about their own obsessions.
It was excellent. I really wish I could be a student of Liardet, and I'd love to get the chance to hear him doing a poetry reading sometime (I missed the one he did yesterday). I started a couple poems out of that discussion so look forward to seeing if I can make something out of those beginnings.
Then there were three periods where there were several panels to choose from to attend.
Here are the ones I enjoyed:
Robert Frost and the Metaphor of the New England Landscape
Panelist: Robert Crawford
This talk explores the importance of metaphor—conceiving one thing in terms of another--in Frost’s poetry and how he used the stone walls, maple trees, the storied fall of the New England landscape in that role. Crawford will explore the three distinct levels of his poetry—the denotations, the experience reported by the poem; the connotations, the metaphors of the poem; and the whole experience of the poem itself. He’ll show how the New England landscape was vital to each level by taking an in-depth look at “Hyla Brook,” “Mending Wall,” “The Need for Being Versed in Country Things,” “Stopping by a Wood on a Snowy Evening,” “The Onset,” and “For Once Then Something.” He’ll conclude with a discussion of what Frost called “Ulteriority” and how Frost’s being an outsider, not a native, of New England helped him to see and use the landscape so effectively.
The Poetry of Lost Voices
Panelists: January Gill O’Neil, Jennifer Jean, Kirun Kapur
What role can poetry play in recovering and preserving voices that have been swallowed by the past or made invisible in the present? Voices from history, voices from vulnerable populations—the forgotten, the abused, the enslaved, the neglected. How can we render them alive in our poetry and what are the ethical considerations in doing so? Who has the right to speak for those who can’t speak for themselves? What part should factual, secondary source material play? Where is the line between empathy and appropriation? Three poets read and discuss their process and practice.
Ekphrastics and Collaboration
Panelists: Wayne Atherton, Kate Knox, Jessica Purdy, Susan Schwake, S Stephanie, Mimi White
Poets S Stephanie, Mimi White, and Jessica Purdy along with artists Wayne Atherton, , Kate Knox, and Susan Schwake collaborated in an ekphrastic project this year in which the three poets composed poems inspired by collage and artwork by the three visual artists. They created 6 pieces each, held a reading and show in Dover titled After You…, and had many productive conversations around our experience of collaboration. This panel will include a short reading and showing of a few of the pieces with a panel discussion on our experience with ekphrastics and collaboration between community artists.
After that there was a reading by the headliner, Charles Simic. I'm glad I got a chance earlier this year to hear him read at a small bookstore as I had a hard time hearing him yesterday.
I also purchased a few new poetry books and am busy falling in love with some of them poems I've read in them so far. I can't wait to read more, as well as reread some Frost and some other poets that were discussed.
All in all an excellent, albeit exhausting, day.