Pinning the Butterfly

I’ve been putting off writing this blogpost. It feels a little like pinning down a butterfly. Flying around it creates wonderful glimpses of colour but I know if I don’t pin it down, it will flutter on its way and the memory of it will fade.

I attended a poetry workshop in the local university a few weeks ago. It’s the first time to my knowledge that an English-language poetry workshop has been held so I jumped at the chance to attend.

So I found myself sitting in the Turkish Australian Cultural Centre with an acting lecturer (as in one who lectures about acting), two English teachers (one of whom was American), several literature students past and present, and one genetic engineer. We sat expectantly looking at our fearless leader through flowers, feathers, wooden cats, incense sticks and scarves. Oh, and two stones, one small smooth marble and the other an odd-shaped water-sculpted stone from Bozcaada.

Image from Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University website

Robyn Rowland was our guide for the workshop. She’s from Australia but lives part-time in Connemara. With nine books published, she is currently working on poems about Suleyman the Magnificent.

Our first session was spent with the particulars, the nuts-and-bolts of poetry, and how the senses are stimulated by a good poem. After lunch during our second session we immersed ourselves in water. Pictures of waves and tsunami and dry lake beds (complete with warning signs for swimmers), and a pitcher of water to dip our fingers in. We talked and read some poems before meditation followed by writing. Afterwards we read our work in turn and finished an hour late without even realising.

The next morning we reconvened, this time on the topic of journeys. Not only did we have pictures of trains and rafts and hot air balloons, there were toy cars and trains too. After a discussion which nearly rambled off in unexpected directions, as the best journeys do, we had another writing session.

That evening Robyn had a reading at the campus downtown. Accompanied by students from the music department, Robyn read some of her newer poems, mainly about her time in Turkey. Some of the poems have been translated so we heard some in Turkish as well. The music was very good, a haunting rendition of “Uzun Ince bir Yoldayim” was a particular highlight.

Image from Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University website

It was a very stimulating few days and hopefully the start of some friendships too.

2 thoughts on “Pinning the Butterfly

  1. Judith van Praag says:

    Catherine, I love the title of this post, Roby Rowland must be pleased with such a poetic description of her self and the class she taught. There’s nothing like being submerged in a world of words, where everyone counts the meaning, weight and importance of imagery evoked. So glad for you that you all had the opportunity to find yourself in such good company. Pin ’em down, the words, that is.

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