Last Wednesday staff from Sport Studies at the University of Canberra met the poet Harry Laing at the Old Cheese Factory at Reidsdale to develop our writing skills as part of the Faculty of Health‘s 2010 Writing Week. I have been thinking about the workshop a good deal since then.
On one of my journeys into the University of Canberra I caught a Book Show discussion of Paul Celan.The program note included the quote “There is nothing in the world for which a poet will give up writing, not even when he is a Jew and the language of his poems is German.” Ramona Koval discussed with Charlotte Ryland the limits and possibilities of language in relation to Celan’s poetic project.
The interview was prompted by the publication of Charlotte’s book Paul Celan’s Encounters with Surrealism: Trauma, Translation and Shared Poetic Space. The Legenda summary of the book is:
Paul Celan (1920-1970), one of the most important and challenging poets in post-war Europe, was also a prolific and highly idiosyncratic translator. His post-Holocaust writing is inextricably linked to the specific experiences that have shaped contemporary European and American identity, and at the same time has its roots in literary, philosophical and scientific traditions that range across continents and centuries – surrealism being a key example. Celan’s early works emerge from a fruitful period for surrealism, and they bear the marks of that style, not least because of the deep affinity he felt with the need to extend the boundaries of expression. In this comparative and intertextual study, Charlotte Ryland shows that this interaction continued throughout Celan’s lifetime, largely through translation of French surrealist poems, and that Celan’s great oeuvre can thus be understood fully only in the light of its interaction with surrealist texts and artworks, which finally gives rise to a wholly new poetics of translation.
I like the idea of a ‘poetics of translation’ and its resonance with developing ideas. I ought to track down the book to learn more about Paul Celan and Charlotte’s account of poetics. This may take me to Jacques Derrida too!
It is surprising where a misty day in Reidsdale can lead you.
Today staff from Sport Studies at the University of Canberra met the poet Harry Laing at the Old Cheese Factory at Reidsdale to develop our writing skills as part of the Faculty of Health‘s 2010 Writing Week. We visited Reidsdale on one of the wettest days of the year in the wettest week of the year so that the glories of the Monga National Park were obscured by cloud and mist.
Harry was a delightful facilitator and manged to guide us through a great day of writing and voice exercises.
Our day included:
- Two free flow writing exercises (writing without taking the pen off the paper as a stream of expression).
- Writing about an object (two truths, four lies).
- Completing a fifty-word piece that followed from the starting line I stroked the tiger one last time then …
- Writing about a person we know well.
- Completing a fifty-word piece that followed from the starting line The stadium went quiet then …
- Writing about My Left Hand.
- Writing about an object (description then an imagination piece about the object).
- Two voice exercises: one to Charles Causley‘s I Am The Song and one as a Chant.
- Writing a Tanka on the theme of a Hero or Fallen Idol.
- Exquisite corpse exercise (partners take it in turn to write words: adjective, noun, verb, adjective, noun without seeing what each other has written) to develop unimagined sentences.
Harry interspersed these activities with readings from his own collections, Philip Larkin and Simon Armitage.
There was lots of opportunity to discuss writing and narrative whilst having the most wonderful food and drinks from the Old Cheese Factory kitchen (provided by Gary, Gina, Margaret and Robert).
Today is the start of Writing Week in the Faculty of Health at the University of Canberra. We had a preliminary event last week with Robert Brown. His writing workshop provided an excellent stimulus for disciplined writing for publication.
This is the Faculty’s second writing week. There are some blog posts about the 2009 Writing Week in this blog. This year the Faculty has scheduled no meetings for the week in order to create time for writing. On Wednesday staff from Sport Studies are meeting the poet Harry Laing at the Old Cheese Factory at Reidsdale to develop our writing skills. We are in for a treat judging by an excerpt from his poem Wordsmith:
…Cold forgery is impossible,
Words must bleed from a hot core –
They bulb at my fingertips
Exuded like beads of mercury, my sons
Hatched from the ashes and into the blaze with them
See those salt blue flames singing at the margins –
That is spirit, quicker than embers
Thumping, banging smith-spirit.
Whilst the Faculty’s Writing Week is in its second year Meanjin is celebrating its seventieth anniversary. A recent Radio National Book Show (24 November 2010) celebrated the anniversary and discussed the role of literary publications in a digital world. The discussions about a published journal compared to an on-line journal mirrored debates in the academic world about open access.
It was interesting to listen to Jim Davidson and Christina Thompson discuss Meanjin and the role of editors in forging a publication’s identity. I was very interested in Christina‘s discussion of her work at the Harvard Review and the positioning of the Review in a digital age. I noted the importance Christina attached to Laura Healy‘s work with the Review’s website (see too Laura’s Chocolog site).
Just as I was savouring these thoughts, Colm Toibin appeared on the same Radio National program to discuss his Off the Shelf books (Off the Shelf is a regular segment on the Book Show where writers and artists talk about a book or books that have influenced their thinking, or one that they go back to for inspiration). His discussion of Ernest Hemmingway’s The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast explored the art of writing. (James Topham said of the A Moveable Feast “I think there is no author that makes you want to write than Hemingway; every sentence he writes seem to suggest a joy and delight in his craft”.)
I am looking forward to the joy and craft of writing this week.
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