Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Skagit Poetry Festival


What a weekend!

I'm back from the Skagit Poetry Festival in La Conner, Washington.

The town of La Conner is ridiculously idyllic with its waterfront, small town feel, antique shops, wild turkeys roaming the streets (no, not the poets, but actual wild turkeys).  You walk from one event to another, passing one poet and other.

If you've never gone to the festival, I can only describe it as magical.

From what I hear, it's not at all as big as the Dodge Festival in New Jersey, but I think it's smaller size helps create that magical feeling.  Throughout the event, the poets are approachable and available to talk with.  I never felt overwhelmed (a feeling I've gotten at other larger events such as the AWP, etc.) and because of the size, the festival has an intimacy to it that we rarely get to experience as readers, poets, and poetry lovers.

I am someone who believes there are certain things that need to be documented.  For me, this festival is one of them.  Look at the list of some of the poets who were there--Sherman Alexie, Ted Kooser, Terrance Hayes, Alicia Ostriker, the Dickman Brothers--along with our own wonderful selection of Northwest poets-- Susan Rich, Nancy Pagh, Elizabeth Austen, Jim Bertolino, Sam Green.

With my trusty iPhone, I snapped moments I wanted to remember--  Lorna Crozier reading about the sex lives of vegetables, Ted Kooser "backstage" before his big reading, Terrance Hayes at the workshop he taught, Susan Rich with a random friendly cat that approached us after a poetry reading.

I know poetry is overlooked in much of our culture and community, and honestly, that's okay.  I know many of us live busy lives, but for me, these moments to see and speak to the poets who I admire bring me something satisfying that I don't always get in my every day life.

Though truth be told, when I really like a poet, I become ridiculously shy (um, I didn't speak for 90 minutes in the Terrance Hayes workshop then stood up and knocked the dried palm leaves off the crucifix. Smooth.)  But occasionally, I do approach a poet to sign a book or say hello.  And these brief moments matter to me.

So for this next week, I'll be blogging about my notes and some photos I took so you too can experience a little bit what I did.

I am so thankful I live in the region where this takes place.  

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