Rachel Bunting

gotta get away from me

This weekend was the annual Poetry and Prose Getaway in Cape May, organized and hosted by Murphy Writing Seminars. It was, in a word, AMAZING. This is not unusual.

The prompts were crazy-difficult again. I got two solid drafts out of them, poems that I’m happy with and think will fit well in the manuscript (which I think I will constantly be revising even as I send it out). I spent time with good friends I don’t get to see often enough. I ate a delicious pizza that was as big as the very large plate it was served on. I skipped breakfast every day in favor of sleep. I didn’t take enough pictures.

Sunday evening, Patricia Smith and Dorianne Laux gave a reading. I was simply blown away by Patricia Smith. If you’ve never heard her read anything, you are really, really missing out. And I will try to help you with that by linking you to the following videos:

Building Nicole’s Mama

Patricia read three long poems, “34” (which is in her book Blood Dazzler; this link will take you to a video of her reading at the 2008 Dodge Festival), along with “13 Ways of Looking at 13” and a third poem that I can’t remember the title of, but which was incredibly moving). She is a standout reader, to be sure, and throughout the poems my body felt like a tightly-clenched fist. I didn’t realize I was holding my breath  for most of each poem until Patricia finished, and I let out a giant exhalation. I mean, really, just stunning. I had the good fortune to speak to her after the reading (many thanks to Donna V, who introduced me), and even had a picture snapped with her, which you can be sure I’ll post as soon as I get a copy of it!

I also had the great pleasure of workshopping this weekend with BJ Ward. I haven’t done that in about 5 years, and I’d forgotten how much fun it is to work through poems with him, line by line, examining each word and image. My draft for that workshop was a bit strange–a poem of revenge, in which a bully is set upon by hornets–but I came away with good ideas for revision and a strong sense that I am still in love with words.

Donna and Ashley were also there this weekend – not as official Getaway-ers, but as room-crashers. They had their own little getaway in my room, giving each other prompts and writing all day Saturday and Sunday. Donna kicked ass and finished two stories this weekend that she’d started some time ago. I read one of them last night and cried my eyes out – the only time she has been permitted to be happy that I’m crying. Ashley, for her part, cranked out her first poem in some months – and what a poem it was. So it was a good weekend for everyone, I think.

I feel like there is more I wanted to say, and of course now I can’t recall.

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