This past weekend I flew to LA for a poetry workshop in hopes of “jumpstarting” my poetry writing. As I arrived at the airport I was greeted with hot, muggy air and the sounds of cars, vans, shuttle buses, and every form of vehicle the likes of which I have never seen at SFO.I had only a small carry on wheeled piece of luggage and my handbag ( altho both were packed to the brim).
Luckily I soon found the Residence Inn shuttle which would take me to my overnight as it was already 9:30 pm and the workshop did not begin til the next day. I thought it was only two miles away, but it seemed longer as the driver wove thru traffic, talking about his two jobs ( both driving) and two kids who he adores. We did at last arrive at the Residence Inn, where I was getting a free night’s stay.
All went well, and the next morning I went back to the airport in the same van ( different driver) and caught the Super Shuttle to the location of the workshop. Traffic was much better on a Saturday morning,and there was only one other person in the van. Soon we were pulled up in front of a building in a residential area
but way too early. I had wisely noted a Starbuck Coffee a few blocks away, so walked back there, had a
container of energy juice, and read my email with their
I then retraced my steps and rang the bell of the poetry teacher, whom I had met some years ago. She can bounding down the stairs, slim as ever ( why do some people never gain weight?) and helped me with my carry
on bag. We chatted a bit til the other three students arrived ( for some reason this was a very small workshop, I’m probably lucky she had not cancelled it).
The other three participants were local, younger than me, and had worked with the teacher in the past. We all
read one prepared poem we had brought with us; I would say they are more experienced, or at least better poets than I, but so be it. We then did a few writing exercises, which hopefully I will return to in coming weeks. We broke for lunch ( the instructor had asked that we all bring something for a ‘potluck’ lunch, which had presented another dilemma for me, but I brought to small loaves of coffee bread, and some cheese, and it all worked. For the second day I would have to bring whatever looked like lunch from Starbucks, which is easier than it used to be. We spent a few more hours with poetry and tangent–conversations on various authors, and before I knew it, it was 4 pm,and very warm in the non-air conditioned 2nd floor.
I set off for my second night. I’d found a small B & B nearby and clarified with the owner that it was less than a half mile. Indeed it was a very short distance and easy to find. I was greeted by the portly lady who was apparently the owner, and led to the ‘small room’
where I was to stay. Perhaps they should have said ‘tiny’. There was a double bed which took up most of the room, it was two steps from the bed to the bathroom,(also small). There was no room for a chair, altho there was a large bureau on which sat a modern TV
set. They also had free WiFi. What else did I need?
The owners went out for the evening after giving me the keys to house and room, and after a short rest, I went in search of a dining spot. Amazingly I was not very hungry, so when I say a Japanese restaurant in a small strip mall decided that would do. I was in fact the only customer, altho several people came in for take-out. I finally chose some sushi with salmon covering it, and a bottle of water. When I saw the TV, I realized Stanford was playing that night, so decided to hurriedly eat my dinner and get back to watch the game.
Imagine my disappointment to learn it was not being shown in La until a re-run at 10:30 that night! (too late to stay up for that!) Recovering, I spent most of the evening on my computer and re-arranging my pick up for the next day as the instructor had said that as there were so few of us we would end at 3 instead of 4. I was able to arrange for Super Shuttle to pick me up at 3:15, and even emailed my airline pass to the instructor to print for me. (that was more brazen thanI usually am, but after all, I was feeling that the situation was casual enough I could chance it; she could only say no.)
The next morning I was served breakfast by a Spanish maid who didn’t speak much English, but did not see any other guests. She fried me an egg, with two pieces of toast. There was cut watermelon for fruit. Certainly not my most lavish B & B experience, but this was only for a place to stay the night. I stopped again at Starbucks and got some small rolled chicken items packaged in a box as my lunch contribution, and trekked back to the workshop for day 2.
We again read a poem,this time one we were working on, and had discussion.I will basically have to completely re-write mine, but I did get some good ideas. Then we did another exercise using a poetry form none of us had tried. We read what we had done, and commented, had some more discussion of poetry, authors, etc. and then had lunch. Today one person was missing so there were only three of us and the instructor. Our lunch discussion went a little long before we got back to work, but did one other exercise, which we shared with each other, then I hurried down the stairs to catch the Shuttle, which came within the 15 minute framework. I was back at the airport with time to spare, but still not very hungry, even after waiting any hour, just had a coke and a pastry. I was home before 10 pm.
It’s difficult to evaluate how much I got out of the workshop, one of those things that will take some time and effort to really make useful. I guess you could say I have some new perspective and tools. But it was an interesting weekend in LA.