Just kidding. I am 87% sure I didn’t commit any crimes while I was in England last week. However, we did go with a specific purpose: to attend the 50th annual Poetry Festival at the Southbank Centre!
It was kind of fun, but also sort of awkward, on account of I am not actually a poet. I dabble, but poetry is not one of my strengths. Strangers aren’t my strength either, and, being a foreign country, I recognized no one. Plus, there were occasions wherein participants could share the results of the activities we did, and I don’t like sharing first drafts. Ever.
There I was, sharing the first drafts of an unfamiliar discipline with strangers and my grandfather, a poet whom I could describe with a number of adjectives, although for the sake of propriety I will resist that urge. Basically, it was not my cup of tea.
Still, I had a decent time, and I felt like I did learn many things while I was there—though I decided to narrow the list down to five.
1. I’m Really Lucky to Live HereThe festival had a large Middle Eastern emphasis throughout the week, especially poetry as it relates to women. In some areas it is shameful and even dangerous for women to write poetry, so even if I don’t write poetry myself, I’m glad to live somewhere where everyone can.
2. Censorship Can Be an ArtOne of my favorite programs was designed for 14-18 year olds (Papa wanted to go, but he is 77, so they did not let him in). We made “blackout poetry” by crossing out words in newspapers. It was fun to do, considering that censorship has been used as a way to control, but in the context of art sets ideas free.
3. Poets Are Very Much Into Free WritingI like freewriting, but I don’t often do it because it never really accomplishes anything for me. Still, I think some of my favorite things I wrote all week came of freewriting, so even if it was a repeated exercise at the events, it was still something fun they encouraged me to do.
4. Poetry is About Experiences and VerbiagePoetry shares ideas and gives a snapshot into others’ lives; poetry says these things in powerful ways. No one ever defined poetry for us, but they gave us a lot of chances to see other people through it.
|via Disney Wiki|
5. I Haven’t Even Scratched the Surface of Middle Eastern CulturesMy latest WIP was inspired by the city of Toledo, Spain, where Muslim, Christian, and Jewish communities lived peacefully until Ferdinand and Isabella started expelling folks. (Funnily enough, doing so crippled Spain for centuries, so I guess the joke was on them.) After attending musical performances, poetry readings, discussions, lessons, and other events, I kind of feel silly for trying to write something within that setting. I came away intrigued and interested in the culture I was introduced to there, but it was also a discouragement, because it felt more like a proud showcase of their culture, almost a PSA, and not an invitation to get in their business.
Overall, the convention was interesting and educational, but I enjoyed my time in London most in other places. Still, I’m glad I went. I enjoyed the unfamiliar culture and art I saw, and came to value my own a little more, too.