Friday, July 9, 2010

The Festival

On the 25 of April 2006 I was surprised to receive the following email from Andrew:

Dearest Rosemary,
I apologise for my last email.  Maybe it was because of Anzac Day. Also yesterday I found myself under psychic attack twice.  And it all got the better of me.  And my computer clock is up the creek.  It's actually 6.20am. I'm fine today. Have a great Beltane Ritual and Forrest Fest.

I responded:

Have no idea what yr last said, as it is no longer in my inbox. They only stay coupla days and I have not been able to log on since Thursday. Am now at Neil and Dorsey's briefly, having had opportunity to do session 2 of Voice Dialogue, and begged use of the spare Mac laptop — before going on to open mic at The Hideout tonight.

Glad you are fine now.

SLIGHTLY LATER: Had another look, found the previous after all. Oh dear, I am sure it must be hard for you. I am over here having all the fun!  Won't be long now, luv u too, heaps n heaps. And despite the fun starting to feel a wee bit homesick.

But anyway, must seize chance to tell you all about Festival. Yet more skiting!!!

As you know I was one of the featured poets selected to perform at Opening Ceremony, an audience of renowned poets — rather different from the venues around town. I was on early — with The Dress, naturally. I was SO nervous, and nearly fluffed lines coupla times in the Down Under poem (which I will send copies of to people when I get back). Most of the audience was listening expressionlessly but attentively. Scary! Only one guy was killing himself laughing (silently), and my few pals there — e.g. Neil, Patricia, Christine, and Patricia's friend Agnes Meadows, featured poet from London — were beaming love and encouragement, but otherwise I couldn't tell how I was going. I followed it with Vagabond and The Goddess Without (we only got a 5 min sample reading each). Luckily all got great applause. Neil came up after and said, 'You did good!' and Rod Stryker, my host at one of the San Antonio readings, clapped my arm approvingly. But I really did not know how I had gone — in fact knew it was my worst performance so far — until next morning when Anne and Sally from Kerrville picked me up and went to the registration venue, and a man sitting there told me had written about me on his blog that morning. I asked what he had said, and he told me, 'Oh just that you were the highlight of the Opening Ceremony.' (Not to mention this GORGEOUS — and very young — black slam poet, male of course, who said, 'Hey, dahlin', where you reading next?' Ooh, instant melt!) And all through the Festival various renowned poets expressed delight in my work and/or regret they had not been able to hear more — as after the Opening, venues were scattered all over town at same time and we could not all get to hear everyone else.

After the Opening, Patricia and I and her guest Agnes were all on at a bookshop — and it went very late and was tiring ... and a few more people of all ages and genders fell in love with me. One old man said he had the title of his next poem about me, something about bodaceous bazooms!

To return to Opening Ceremony, a well-known woman musician-poet around town who was introduced to me there, said, 'Oh, Rosemary — you're a legend! Welcome back to Texas.' I said, 'It's my first visit,' and she said that she had heard so much about me and read my name so often that it felt as if I was already part of the Austin family for a long time.

I moved into the Austin Motel a few days as guest of the Festival — very small room after the luxury I've been used to, and I moved back to house-siting Patricia's friend Kate's place Saturday night, more convenient for Patricia to drive me around Sunday (yesterday). But the resaurant next to motel was real good, authentic Mexican which I like so much better than Tex Mex. Great to see Anne and Sally, who took me about on Friday, and Anne and I read together at The Hideout that afternoon as part of the Festival. It was a most exciting reading, some great poetry. I am also outrageous in audience, and stamp and whoop and yell for the good ones, and clap till my hands hurt.

(Just had phone call with you — so great! Glad you rang.)

I found out a while back that witches in Texas do wear their pentacles, and in Austin often visibly, so went and got one — silver, very good price, smaller than the one I left home, and I love it and wear it all the time now, and all the witches around the place (many of them poets) are delighted. Agnes is another. She says The Dress is a Hogwarts gown! She is a wonderful, bawdy, witty lady who writes great poetry. Patrcia kept saying, 'You'll love Agnes!' I didn't know the half of it. We have chummed up like mad, and she wants me to go to England next and be part of her women writers' network. She didn't join me in Kate's house though as she wanted to be in with Patrica, her great pal for years. Suits me; I like the place to myself, and they are close enough, just across the lawn. We three wicked women together are dangerous, I tell ya! Well, would be except the others have been fairly ill with coughs and Reiki only relieving symptoms temporarily.

They drove me about on Saturday and Agnes and I read at same venue in the arvo. Evening, there was a reception, with the three biggest stars reading. Apart from The Dress, the most successful clothes have been the pieces I got from Ariba. In fact everything I brought has been good, and The Coat of The Dress very versatile. The hair has faded to auburn — very pretty actually. The shampoo Parvati sold me refreshes it when needed and it is still magenta enough to work with poems referring to it. So on this occasion I opted for quietly elegant glamour!

Anyway, one big star was Russian born Ilya Kaminsky, both sweet boy and unique, brilliant poet. I bought his book; he said, 'You're the one who made that wonderful rhyme we've all been talking about.' (vestibule/festival, from the Down Under poem). Now that is high praise! My cup runneth over.

Another nice man was Eddie Tay from Singapore whom I met first of all as I registered. Oh and so many other people; I have lots of email addresses. I particularly bonded with Marian Haddad, very beautiful woman and beautiful poet, Arab-American, living in San Antonio. She writes a lot of woman-centred stuff so of course liked my work, as I hers.

I left out account of Poets' Forum on Saturday arvo before our reading. Five of the big stars discussing a quote from Brecht which implied we should be writing about issues rather than pretty things about trees. All spoke well. When audience comments/questions were called for, I was first up and pointed out that trees are an issue now and how guilty I feel about paper, and asked if they had any ideas, e.g. should we all go to computer only. Most panellists said how they love books; the Chinese lady, Zhang Er, said in China they make paper from grass, which excited me, but later she told me it is not very good quality paper.

One way and another I have become repoliticised as a poet via this Festival; so much discussion of what we as poets might do to help our troubled planet. And so many great political poems aired!

I withdrew from the Dead Poets' Slam Friday night, just did not feel easy about presenting Michael Dransfield's work in that context. Nancy (organiser) eventually said, 'It's meant to be fun, not torture' and accepted my withdrawal — which freed me to go off that evening and play with some witches (non-poets) of which more another time. Patricia sent Rod Stryker to pick me up at motel Saturday morning to get me to a venue she was hosting, poetry and music. I got to just listen, and it was beautiful.

Sorry I am getting this all out of order.

Back to Reception. After the readings it was eat, drink and mingle. An arm came around me, and it was Anne Schneider, teary and saying a final goodbye. Had great time with her and Sally Friday; had gone to Reception mainly in hope of seeing her but didn't until just then. They were not staying for the Sunday poetry brunch, so that was it. I was sad too, despite knowing we'll be in touch for life. It's not the same.

The poetry brunch was not like it sounded — was a reading upstairs of cafe, no food provided, we had to order our own. Staff (volunteers) not properly informed, and snowed under. It worked out in the end. Agnes was reading. She asked at one point did we want sex, trees or anti-war. People dithered and muttered coupla minutes, till this Aussie larrikin at the back of the room put her hands to the sides of her mouth and yelled, 'SEX!' Everyone looked around and laughed; it was what they had all been wanting to say.

At the end, I was sitting with coupla middle-aged men outside waiting for my lift. They were discussing whether another bloke was going to succeed in chatting up this gorgeous young woman poet, whom many ment had been trying to chat up. I had seen her Thurs. night with very nice boyfriend, and had given her some discreet mentoring on not apologising for her verses when reading. So what happens? She flies downstairs, falls into my arms and begs to know where I'm reading next. (Have I got it or have I got it?!) Then I get to hug goodbye the rather nice bloke who was hoping to chat her up, on the grounds of being an older woman who can be allowed such familiarities!

My lift I was waiting for was this lovely Reiki Master who took me off to participate in Reiki shares. Different way of working, but luvverly. Just what I needed by then. I got great foot massage too!

Sunday night (last night) party at Patricia's — Thom and Wendy, Christine, Neil, Patricia's neighbour Kathleen, coupla visiting British poets, and an activist publisher called Susan Bright. I drank too much red wine and ate too much of everything. Great! Poor Agnes went to bed instead but is feeling better today.

And then I got invitation to come here and do second session of Voice Dialogue which was just great.

And now Neil will take me off to the venue, where Patricia and Agnes will be too, and my gorgeous young female fan, then later back home to Kate's place. Don't know when I'll be near a computer again. Can't make Patricia's or Kate's work for Gotalk. Hope to sort out books tomorow; going up to Lamesa with Thom late Wednesday after Cafe Caffeine. Some other friends will be going there too. Ruta Maya tomorrow night; improv venue. I MAY get game to have a go....

Luv & many xxx

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