I spent the past 6 days going to a morning poetry workshop at the Port Townsend Writers Conference with a group of 12 poets, led by Ilya Kaminsky. If you are a poet and you’ve never met, or work-shopped with Ilya, I urge you to do so if you can. He is the most generous, funny, creative and insightful of the many wonderful poets I have work-shopped with at PTWC (and elsewhere) over the past 10 years, each of them delightful in their own way. How Ilya stands out is for his process, his ability to converse with poetry, his teaching savvy, his inventiveness in overcoming any barriers to getting the poem written. And his generosity, especially. He spent his lunch hours holding in-depth individual conferences with each of us.
I’ve been in a “poetry cloud” for the past week, and need to return to earth. Return to hospice visits, clinic work, volunteering, and the general decline of civilization. Spending time with poets this week reminds me that there is kindness, generosity, and creativity in this world, and that our work does matter.
here are some small 3-liners from a workshop exercise
The only difference between sex and death is sex. Gather materials: seaweed from a mermaid's hair corn husks from a pig's mouth A small problem: getting from nowhere to here Poem, I love you but why work my ass so hard when what I long for is a soft landing my life is the size of a small cabin in the woods composed of decades I only remember riding my bike in the rain, along empty streets preparing for the grief to come As if I came to the Pacific ocean having known nothing of water but rivers We used to have so many suns but every time a species goes extinct another one burns out I watched you crumble your body unsteady and compressed your enlarging spleen and those cigarettes