Friday, June 09, 2006
Here's a quick update on my literary shit. In May, I was selected as the Naomi Shihab Nye scholar and I was able to attend the Poetry at Roundtop Festival which is held in Roundtop, Texas every summer. Most people, including Texans aren't aware that this wonderful campus exists. It is nestled between Houston and Austin and is home to one of the greatest festivals dedicated solely to poetry. I am honored that I was selected to attend and able to experience three days of workshops, music recitals, and readings. Claudia Rankine, Rich Levy, Carolyn Forche and Jack Myers were some of the main presenters and readers. Naomi Shihab Nye was also in attendance and I finally got to meet her in person, which was wonderful. She's such a wonderful spirit. One night she pulled me aside and we went to listen to an army of tree frogs croaking in the night. We were far away from the soundtrack of the city--no ambulances moaning their sirens, no street lights littering the night. I haven't been so close to nature in such a long time. It reverted me back to my natural state, a state I'm not use to. It's great to rediscover yourself among strangers and friends who share the same passion i.e. poetry. That night Naomi wrote this wonderful poem about the tree frogs we listened to and read it to an audience filled with poets. I also got to meet some of the talented poets from the Michener program at the University of Texas including Abraham Burickson and Darius and we took a stroll around the botanical gardens. I had such a pleasant experience. If you're ever in Texas during the month of May, I strongly urge any poet to attend the Poetry at Roundtop Festival. It will give you a completely different perspective of Bush country.
Here's the poem by Naomi Shihab Nye. Enjoy!
To the Tree Frogs Outside the Window
for Radames Ortiz
Tree frogs, we were born wrong.
Why didn't we get a song like you?
Something we could all sing together?
In the big dark, strumming our throats?
All night, branches alive outside our screens,
you paddle the long boat,
nothing could sink
on a note like yours.
I'd press myself against that twisty bark,
be part of the leaves.
I'd shrink, stretch free
of these heavy syllables,
curving perfectly into chorus,
something we could all sing
© Naomi Shihab Nye 2006