March 5th, 2012

Canada Goose

Speculative Poetry at ConDor

I always appreciate attending ConDor because the organizers are so speculative-poetry-friendly! ConDor is down in San Diego, but I always prefer it over attending Loscon in Los Angeles because as a poet, I am made to feel so much more welcome.

This year, as we have in the past several years, we had a two hour block on Saturday. There was a poetry workshop at 4 p.m. and a poetry reading at 5 p.m.

Workshop panelists: David Lee Summers, Denise Dumars, Nancy Ellis Taylor,Samantha Henderson, Deborah P Kolodji, Deborah Flores

This year's theme was "Men In Black: Aliens, Conspiracies, & Feds, Oh My!" which meant some fun panels on UFOlogy and debunking conspiracies, including a powerpoint presentation by UFO skeptic Robert Sheaffer. This included profiles of various UFO conspiracies such as an alleged CIA cover-up to hide the fact that Barack Obama has been to Mars. (You just can't make some of this stuff up!) Men in Black creator, Lowell Cunningham, was the guest of honor.

For our poetry workshop, we riffed off the conspiracy theme and used it for one of our prompts. For the last several years, we've been doing variations of a prompt mash-up, where participants are given prompts from various items that have nothing to do with each other, just to see what happens when they are juxtaposed together. This year, each participant received three prompts: a conspiracy theory (Grassy Knoll, the Princes in the Tower, Princess Diana murder, Origin of AIDS, UFO coverup, Sky ChemTrails, etc), a quote from Shakespeare, and an astronomical object.

I ended up with "The Moon Landing is a Hoax," "the Play's the Thing," and "rogue planet." Oddly enough, they seemed to fit together and I was able to write my first speculative poem in a long drought of speculative poetry writing. (I am not going to post it here, because I'd like to work on it a bit more and actually submit it somewhere!)

We also read a section from The Discovery of Poetry by Frances Mayes regarding synesthesia. Synesthesia is when one sensory perception is expressed in terms of a different sense, for example "I know the seven fragrances of the rainbow" from The Blindman by May Swenson or "green wind" from Romance Sonambulo by Federico García Lorca. The object of the exercise was, if possible, to use an example of synesthesia in the prompt mash-up poem.

I used "the smell of gray" and "sharp lighting" as elements of synesthesia in my poem.

After the writing session, we shared the poems we had written. Charles Nelson prefaced his poem with a testamonial. He told us that he had attended the ConDor Poetry Workshop last year and was so inspired that he continued to write and just received an acceptance letter for an upcoming poem in Space and Time.

The poetry workshop was followed by a poetry reading in a read-around format. We kept on reading poems until we ran out of time. I don't know about my fellow poets, but I could have done that all night long! It was wonderful listening to everyone's poetry.