...is the title of the writing workshop facilitated by Anne Simspon that took place at the Mendel Art Gallery on Sunday. I registered as soon as I heard about it as I knew I'd be in Saskatoon on the weekend. I couldn't believe the workshop was free.
H and I arrived at the gallery early as I wanted to spend time with the exhibitions before the workshop. I was especially interested in seeing Ed Pien's Haven of Delight after reading the description of the exhibition on the gallery's website. It says "Pien has succeeded in creating his own unique, phantasmagorical visual language of tales and myths and half-human and half-animal figures, plunging the viewer into worlds which spark the imagination." Spark the imagination it did. Here's the Mendelog feature on Ed Pien. The podcast from the artist talk is worth a listen.
After I spent time with the work I headed down to the auditorium where the workshop would begin. I had a nice chat with a couple of established poets I know before we got to work. There were many new faces. I wish I'd written down their names, but I was in the middle of reading the workshop handout and it never crossed my mind.
I registered for the workshop for a reason. I've written a number of poems about art, some of which have survived the ax and might find their way into my next book. I have poems in a new manuscript that respond to art as well, but they're troubling me. I admire Simspon's work and was hoping the workshop would offer different approaches and new ways in. Sure enough, the handout offered many intriguing questions and exercises that I'll continue to explore.
Next we were given a whirlwind tour of the exhibitions, shown the rack of folding stools and off we went. I knew exactly where I was headed. I plunked my stool down and proceeded to get lost in Ed Pien's Sacred Tree, the darkest of the paper cuts. Or perhaps it speaks to the darkest part of me.
The gallery was busy, but before I knew it I gave in to the work. I can't believe how much I wrote in that short time. When we were asked to pull together a piece from what we had just written to read at the public reading, I was doubtful, but to my delight a poem emerged.
The public reading went really well. I was amazed at the work I heard. For the reading we were asked to stand next to the art that we had focused on. I can't get over how strange it felt as I led the audience to Pien's Sacred Tree. Stranger yet, there I was offering a look at the world into which I had plunged. It felt as if I was still plunging. And I still am. I think the rawness of it all has opened things up.