A Late Letter from Umbria:Poetry & Piero della Francesca Workshop

In March I had the chance to participate in a short workshop in the region of Umbria in Italy —  under the auspices of Civitella Rainieri—with poet Mark Wunderlich and art historian Dana Prescott. It was remarkable to travel with a small group of artists and writers to see frescoes and altarpieces in small museums, churches, and shrines in rural Umbria—in and around Perugia, Monterchi, Arezzo and Urbino.

       

I wrote drafts of poems about Mary Magdalene, about the lapis lazuli blue in della Francesca egg tempura, about the incredible archaeological arboretum; hilltop orchards preserving ancient species of pear, apple and fig.

           
The whole trip, from Vermont to Italy and back again, was a whirlwind immersion into the raw wind, fresh rain, soft sunlight of the countryside of Umbria and into the warrens of little cobblestone streets of the villages and the deep conversations that I was lucky to have with new and old friends about the work of this transcendent artist.
       
I’m still working on the poems from this trip—some much new light and color in my brain! It was a reminder that there (almost) never is (enough) time or the right time to travel, take a break for yourself, or even to write your poems.             And because there is no time or not enough time, we have to take a deep breath, pay attention, and go.
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