Thursday, June 22, 2006

Fellows' Readings - Tuesday and Wednesday

Folks, We have now completed two days of fellows readings and workshops. The last two days have been full of movement and hustle, and lots of laughter. The workshops have developed their own personalities, each one representin' hard when they step to the mic at the fellows readings. For those who have not attended, let me explain. On the first night of the retreat, the 54 fellows are randomly split into 6 groups, designated A through F. Each day, the groups meet to share and workshop their poems with a different instructor - Kwame Dawes, Cornelius Eady, Toi Derricotte, Cyrus Cassels, Patricia Smith, and Elizabeth Alexander- a very stellar crew. For three nights, twe all get together to hear the fellows poems. Fellows get four minutes to read their work, and that is four minutes of pure appreciation. It is the time that the entire group gets to hear your poetry, a time that we all get to really see where we are all coming from on an artistic level. It is always amazing to me to see so many different voices come out of this experience - Older (our oldest participant this year, Ms. Carrie McCray, is in her 90's) and younger - quite a few of the folks are in their 20's and 30's - and all ages in between. Voices from the east, west, north, south and Caribbean and beyond. Poems from the sidewalked city and poems from the far out countryside. Verse in all kinds of accents - from carefully "broken" english to the high diction of PhD's to the Caribbean lilt. Gay voices and straight voices, "political" poems rubbing soulders with love poems rubbing (whatever) with "spoken word" poems gettin' funky with formal poems, and all of them poems dancin' a huckabuck electric slide across the room. I have heard from some folks that there is a "Cave Canem" poem - that there is a formula behind the kind of poem that gets one accepted into this experience. I wish that those folks could sit in on some of these readings, to see just how incredibly wrong that notion is. There ain't no particular kind of poem you need to write yourself into CC. You just have to write what you truly feel needs to be written, and to do it the best, most skillful, most honest, most original way you know how.


1 comment:

Cave Canem Poets said...

Cave Canem rocks!