We had a beautiful day to explore the Cite (the medieval town) of Carcassonne. I hadn't visited the cathedral inside the Cite in the fall, so I appreciated having a tour led by Maria with the class this time.
We have been so fortunate with the weather during our stay in France. The air is dry, warm and fragrant (in a good way). I might even say we've been blessed.
John Fanning, who owns La Muse with his wife Kerry, let us in the ancient chapel today. This is a beautiful, peaceful space—it calms a person right down. This is John meditating in the chapel.
Today was also the book swap in La Muse's library. All of the students brought wonderful gifts to leave.
Alex Emmons, Aaron, Alex and I had a little adventure in the course of finding a place to buy bread and some necessities—we hit the epicerie in Mas Cabardes at just the time when it was closed and tooled up to Mazamet instead.
I'm back at La Muse in beautiful Labastide Esparbairenque, France with photography professor Alex Emmons and our class of eight students enrolled in "Creative Writing and Digital Photography in Medieval France."
Today was our first chance to get out into the sunshine and explore the area. Suzanne Blons and Brandy Dohrman (right) relax on the overlook before our extraordinarily long hike.
Well,though the novelists have grabbed November (National Novel Writing Month--NaNoWriMo) as their own, in the spirit of prolificacy, I am taking on November as KaNoPoMo (Kathy's November Poetry Month).
In April I wrote a poem every day for NaPoWri Mo; and I had 30 poem drafts as a result. I had as added incentive an agrreement I made online with the cool website ReadWritePoem to post a link to each new poem draft. About six of those new poems have been published already in journals, like Sweet and Pif. Some of those poems have ended up in my second full-length collection, Summer, Posthumous.
I was telling a poet friend the other day that the process of writing a poem every day took away the pressure that I would have "writer's block" or that my best poems were behind me. I kept surprising myself with my new poems--and it delighted me to have some much new material to revise, explore, work on. The experience of writing daily, in the middle of a very busy quarter, also showed me that there is no end in an artist's life---the intimate world of writing a poem is there for me as long as I am alive and as long as I am willing to enter it.
While I won't be posting new poem drafts in their entirety, I will post related material and some fragments/ideas. I have 15 drafts for November so far—I hope you will keep checking in! I'm also knitting lots of stripey birds in November (I'm on sabbatical)!!
Today we drove up the mountain north of St. Julien to do LAND ART with the artist Christophe Eppe. Homer couldn't come with us. He would have been in the way.
Two of our sculptures began as spheres and then collapsed. It was a little discouraging. On the left, Christophe checks out our ultimately successful rock egg. On the right, Jaclyn, Christophe, and me after all of us completed the egg.
More reasons to love Paris:
5. Dead king's heads in the Musee du Moyen Age (Medieval Museum)
6. Walking through streets forever trying to find the aforementioned Musee and one crosses the street into Luxembourg Garden (below right).
7. Sitting down at lunch at Le Comptoir with complete strangers and getting invited to visit them in New Zealand<./p>
8. On Rue de Bourgogne (very short street) there is a wonderful little hotel AND a bar called Club des Poetes (Poet's Club)—did you all get that??? My street had a Poet's Club!!!
9. This representational portrait (below, left; very unusual for the time—most art was religious) in the Musee du Moyen Age, which became my favorite photo from this trip so far and 10. The last macaron
Paris doesn't suck at all if you greet everyone you meet politely and show that you appreciate what is around you. I was treated beautifully and everyone made little jokes with me. Maybe at me too, but I didn't know!I tried to speak French whenever I could--which was not much. I ate by myself in nice restaurants and got great service and nice seats. What really cracked me up is that I come from a little town in central Washington state where it is notoriously hard to get dates—and I hadn't even made it off the subway before I got hit on by "Emil." I had slept in my clothes all night, had chocolate gateau smeared on my jeans and my greasy hair was hanging in my face. Emil showed me how to find the Magenta line to the Haussman station, told me he liked Obama and asked me if I wanted to go sightseeing with him. I said Non, but thank you (I have a sweet boyfriend) and he said in perfect English: "You are very welcome. It was nice to talk to you. Obama is better than George Bush."
Reasons Why Paris Doesn't Suck1. Jet-lagged as I was, I located macarons within the first three hours I was in Paris along with a big baguette sandwich and a "Coke Light." I just had to walk into Boulangerie Eric Kayser and point! My first photo on the ground in Paris was this caramel de sel macaron in front of the Louvre.
2. I stumbled into line at the Musee D'Orsay, where I had forgotten how much I loved this sculpture: Charles Cordier--Negre du Sudan
3. Views like the one below. After a much needed shower and nap, I ran to the Eiffel Tower (having overslept and nearly missing my ticket time).
4. Dinner at Les Cocottes sitting at the bar.
Welcome to Southern France, where for the next two and a half weeks I am at La Muse Artists' and Writers' Retreat in the Languedoc village of Labastide Esparbairenque. I am lucky to be on a sabbatical from my job as a writing professor at Central Washington University and very lucky to be here at La Muse right now.
My friend in the photo above, Homer, La Muse's pet spaniel, has been accompanying me on my long runs on the mountain roads that surround the village. I will be blogging about poetry, writing, running, food, animals and other loves of my life. There will be a daily poem and a running journal. Say hello!