Geez Louise. Another pretty cool day at the Bridgewater Fest. Keeping in mind the nature of this festival — that two poets share an hour onstage in two separate reading locations, and that this goes on for basically eight hours — you’re bound to miss something, so you have to rely on your newly-met colleagues in the art to find out what they saw and liked. I did not arrive until the afternoon session, so if anyone reading wants to add insight on the morning poets, please add in your comments.
The first poet I saw this afternoon was Mark Fitzgerald. Author of one previous book, he was reading new material that was strong, resilient, and had a unique beauty I’m finding hard to describe. He doesn’t bring you a storm, he brings you the sound of leaves starting to scramble across a forest floor, and then he brings you the wind, and then sound and light and rain–and the storm of the poem is assembled in your head. Hoping not to misquote here, I believe he read a line that went something like “The song was winter not knowing it wanted to end.” And in a long poem for his son about setting out into the world like a buccaneer onto the unsteady sea, he wrote, “Understand the tug, and you will find kind winds.” I cannot wait until this guy’s manuscript finds its way into a book.
Following him was Suzanne Rhodenbaugh, who read a memorable poem about a Texas woman intent on getting some Scottish broom transplanted from Virginia where she saw it to her property, enlisting the help of two Virginians of somewhat Scottish names to help her.
Performance was a key element in the presentations of Aimee Suzara and Lady Caress, who wow’d the afternoon crowd. Later, down in the Eagle’s Nest, I found the poetry of Lynn Martin particularly haunting. In the next session, it was great to hear Leah Green read her poetry, including a line in a poem entitled “Once Home,” that went something like “My friend could feel the maples not being there / even in the dark…” What a beautiful and concise way to begin to speak about absence. I was happy to find out afterwards that this poem, and another moving poem she read entitled “Venison,” were both in the copy of the journal Ecotone that I had picked up the day before from Anna Lena Phillips, who seems to be able to be in multiple places at the same time during this Festival–reading her own work, attending readings, manning the Ecotone table, and speaking on the editorial process.
This has all gotten my on-demand mind conjuring up all sorts of wacky ideas–wouldn’t it be cool if when going to a conference like this you could pick a selection of your favorite poems from the contributing poets and have an instant epub generated to take home? A kind of pay-per-poem deal, where you can take home with you a little bit of every writer’s work you enjoyed the most, and where each writer can go home with a little extra money? A kind of Make-Your-Own-Bridgewater-Fest-Anthology? Don’t nobody get frightened, it’s just my mind talkin. And knowing that all the tech exists for this kind of thing to be done.
On to Sunday tomorrow. My only real concern is that I get home in time to watch my beloved Patriots play in the AFC Championship without missing a snap — or a poem.