...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.
sounds like a rich and rewarding experience, Brenda. Thanks for the links to the art and gallery.Interesting stuff.
It sure was! I must say it felt good to write with pen and paper again. I can't remember the last time I did that. In fact I found an abandoned moleskine in the computer bag. The work dated back to 2006. I hope it hasn't been that long.
Cool! You've found a new way into your work, which is always exciting. The artworks looks intriquing (to the point of stimulating) as well.
Exciting indeed! It's been such an odd year so far. What a treat to just sit there and lose myself.
Odd or even, it's good to hear you had a good trip. (And also to know I'll see you soon!)
Yes, not long now! I look forward to poking you!
wonderful post! so glad it was such a breakthrough experience!
Thanks, Shawna! I'm still enjoying the after-effects! Or maybe afterglow is a better word for it.
I am so jealous. I was in the city shortly after they hung the show so I had a chance to see it. When I noticed the workshop, I earmarked it, but things just weren't to be. Isn't it just the most satisfying thing to be able to 'hear' at least a piece of what something is saying. If you are willing to share the exercises and questions, I would be more than interested.
Glad you had the chance to see the show! If you're like me, the Mendel is always top of the list when I hit Saskatoon, but my trips are always so quick and packed that I never have enough time there. You're right, it is most satisfying. I'll put the handout in my computer bag, so the next time our paths cross you can have a look.
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