Poetry Friday: Poems from the Writers’ Renaissance, Florence, Italy

May 31, 2013 23 Comments by Renee M. LaTulippe

Writer's Renaissance - Florence 2013

Buongiorno, amici miei!

duomo-circle

Benvenuti! We’re in Italy today! Back in April, I left for Florence at the crack of dawn to tape some poetry videos with the delightful women participating in Julie Hedlund’s Writers’ Renaissance Retreat.

The whosie whatsit, you say? Well, first things first. This is Julie Hedlund, hard at work on one of her reconnaissance missions to Florence:

JulieHedlund

Julie founded the 12×12 picture book writing challenge, which is currently in its second year. Then she put together a writing retreat that would whisk a few lucky women (sorry, guys!) away to Florence, Italy, for a week of inspiration via art, architecture, gelato, and good company.

Look, here I am with Julie and faculty member Katie Davis, getting inspired over cappuccino! What fun it was to finally meet some online friends. We yakked it up like we’d seen each other yesterday…which I guess we had, considering Facebook and all.

reneejuliekatie

If you want to treat yourself to a writing getaway extraordinaire, you can find out all about it on Julie’s Writers’ Renaissance 2014 page. The next retreat is set for April 6-12, so you’ve got plenty of time to cajole your loved ones into letting you go.

Here’s the group of lovelies from this year. See any familiar faces?

Writers Renaissance Group

I didn’t have a lot of time with this fabulous group, so we got right down to poetry video business. The whole group got together to recite their group poem, created in a session with Katie that she likes to call the Vulcan Mind Meld. It’s very much like Irene Latham’s Progressive Poem, but the participants see only the last two lines written, rather than all the lines. (Oh, did I “forget” to edit out the messy parts? Oops! Sorry ladies — you were too fun to leave on the cutting room floor!)

 

BELLS TOLLING, RIVERS ROLLING

Bells tolling, rivers rolling
Rowers sliding free
Their oars flap the water:
Slap! Slap! Slap!
Oops! down, down the tower!
tumbled, jumbled
like a pile of Pinocchio legs and arms.
Their noses grow and prick the air.
Their aroma lives on forever.
Light, sweet, dancing on air
through the streets and over bridges
pulsing through verdant hedges
over narrow, frightening ledges…
I jump, I fly
I sing, I cry
Bend like a willow tree.
Cry like a river.
Tell us your song.

duomo-circle

Next up was Julie with her brief but heartfelt ode to gelato. I have been singing this ode for ten years, and it shows.

GELATO

I tried to eat a frittata
and had to wash it down with wattah
and now I think I gotta
eat a lotta gelata.

© 2013 Julie Hedlund. All rights reserved.

duomo-circle

One of the many highlights of the morning was meeting and chatting with the warm and wonderful Esther Hershenhorn of TeachingAuthors.com fame! I had no idea she would be there, and since TeachingAuthors is one of my favorite blogs, it was a real treat to meet one of the women behind it. What a generous, joyful soul! I wish we’d had more time to talk — she’s one of those people who covers you in warmth like your childhood blankie.

ANYWAY, Esther wanted to share a poem by her TeachingAuthors pal, April Halprin Wayland — another wonderful surprise! April wrote this poem as a response to her participation in the 2013 March Madness Poetry Tournament. I think it pretty much sums up the experience.

MADNESS

There’s a Superwoman
caffeinated rush
in my veins!

I’m becoming that crazy woman
at the top of the highest roller coaster
laughing hysterically for fifty-five minutes!

And then, bleary-eyed in the morning,
wearing my robe and slippers,
finding a severed head

in the vegetable bin
of my refrigerator
next to the iceberg lettuce

when I read my poem
posted for all to see
and realize

it doesn’t scan
the way it seemed to

last night.

© 2013 April Halprin Wayland. All rights reserved.

duomo-circle

And then yet another surprise awaited me. When I arrived, one person at the breakfast table greeted me with, “Hi, I’m Cory, from David’s blog.” Being still in a fog from the early start and long drive, I had no idea what that meant. After just a couple sips of cappuccino, however, I made the connection and yelled, “Oh, you’re THAT Cory from THAT David’s blog! Hugs must happen!”

Yes, it was fellow David Harrison groupie Cory Corrado! We see each other all the time on David’s blog, where Cory is a regular contributor to his Word of the Month poems and all his wacky poetry challenges. What a sweetheart she is!

Cory Corrado and Renee

Cory offers us a poem from her new book of photos and poetry called Word Blossoms, which you can flip through right here. I was sad to discover that the strong wind that followed us that day often overpowered Cory and the video camera. But Cory waxed philosophical about it, saying, The fact that it is windy and my voice gets carried away is perfect in a way because I say I want to be as free as the wind, and it happily obliged… .

If you’d like more info on Cory’s book, feel free to contact her at word.blossoms@bell.net.

SPACE

I love to gaze at e n d l e s s skies;
behold the boundless seas.
I love to w a n d e r among the trees
look out into the vast unseen.
I love to m e a n d e r with the stream
delight in f r e e d o m’s flow.

Give me space to find my place,
to set my pace and live with grace.
Give me room to find my groove,
to breathe,
to be,
to feel w i n d-f r e e

I need v a s t n e s s of endless skies
I seek freedom of the birds that fly.
To me and to my heart I give
s     p     a     c    e  to find my place
to breathe,
to love
and live,
to grow and thrive–
to be just me.

© 2013 Cory Corrado. All rights reserved.

duomo-circle

Although this was a whirlwind trip, I’m so glad I got myself together long enough to meet this charming group of writers. I have to thank Julie for making space for me in her itinerary, and all the writers for their generosity and willingness to share their time and their work. Tanti baci e abbracci a tutti voi! 

This is me looking wistful that I couldn’t stay for the whole week!

renee

[heading style=”1″]Extension Activity for Group Poetry[/heading]

  • Vulcan Mind Meld Group Poem
    • In one of her sessions with the retreat group, Katie Davis encouraged participants to let go of expectations and just write, letting the words flow in and out organically. The Vulcan Mind Meld group poem exercise is a great way to let your imagination wander and your creativity come out without over-thinking it.
    • To create a Vulcan Mind Meld group poem:
      • Have one person in the group write two lines at the top of a page and pass the paper to the next person.
      • Person #2 reads the two lines, adds two lines of her own, then folds the paper down so only her lines are visible.
      • Person #3 follows suit, reading Person #2’s lines, adding her own, folding the paper down, and passing it on.
      • Continue until everyone in the group has contributed. Then do a group reading. Then eat gelato.

CIAO!

La bella Betsy has the roundup today at Teaching Young Writers. Take her a plate of pasta, already!

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[divider top=”0″] Video Location: Florence, Italy

See more poems in my poetry video library.

All poems © their respective authors. All rights reserved.

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22 Comments

  1. April Halprin Wayland
    4 years ago

    Hi, Renee! Three cheers for your fabulous round-up of the Writers’ Renaissance! Thank you and thank you Esther, for reading my poem –I’m thrilled!
    xxx

    Reply

  2. Tabatha
    4 years ago

    Isn’t it a bummer to find a severed head in your vegetable bin? Looks like it was all gelato and hugs at the retreat! Thanks for sharing it with us, Renee!

    Reply

  3. Matt Forrest
    4 years ago

    Sounds like a wonderful retreat – if for no other reason than because gelato appears to play an important role. Thanks for sharing these poems, Renee! I have to admit, I think I identify with April’s the most!

    Reply

  4. Katie Davis
    4 years ago

    Renee, seeing these videos brings me right back and I miss everyone! And I miss that food that I was apparently in the middle of chewing as you shot that photo! 😎

    Thank you for coming and sharing this day with everyone. I wish you could’ve been there longer…next year?

    Reply

  5. Cathy Ballou Mealey
    4 years ago

    Beautiful poetry, beautiful women.

    Great job everyone!

    Reply

  6. Sylvia Liu
    4 years ago

    Ladies, your hair is perfect. Great videos & poems. Thanks for sharing, Renee. Sounds like a wonderful time.

    Reply

  7. Julie Hedlund
    4 years ago

    Renee, just as I was feeling a long way away from Italy, you brought it right back to me with this fabulous post! I am now sitting on the terrace at the hotel, in the wind, and giving you real-life hugs! Thank you so much for this incredible give you gave to all of us.

    I love how we’re all congratulating ourselves at the end – glad you didn’t edit that out. 🙂 A good dose of embarrassment about that gelato poem might have been a good thing before we recorded it – LOL

    You are right about Esther being like a warm blankie. That’s why we gave her the Jewish mother award for the week. And to see Cory in her full glory (rhyme intended), well, it makes me miss everyone so much!

    Thank you again Renee. Speaking of Jewish mothers, I must say I am quite verklempt right now!

    Reply

  8. Catherine Johnson
    4 years ago

    That was lovely to share the Italian experience with you, Renee. Thanks and so funny that the windy poem got so much wind. Beautiful poems, ladies!

    Reply

  9. jama
    4 years ago

    A whirlWIND of fun and great poems and good times. Thanks for putting this all together. Oh yes, I tuned into the gelatto and frittata :)!

    Reply

  10. Carmela Martino
    4 years ago

    How fun to watch these clips. Though it makes me VERY jealous that I wasn’t there. 🙂

    Reply

  11. Linda Baie
    4 years ago

    It looks as if the gathering was wonderful with you there Renee. Thanks for telling all about it, for the poems and the work to get it all together. The poems are terrific!

    Reply

  12. Ruth
    4 years ago

    This post made me happy. What fun you all had!

    Reply

  13. Iza Trapani
    4 years ago

    You must have had so much fun! Thanks for the sampling of poems and glimpses of beautiful Florence. Wish I had been there too! Ciao for now 🙂

    Reply

  14. Erik - This Kid Reviews Books
    4 years ago

    Wish I was there! 😀

    Reply

  15. Teresa Robeson
    4 years ago

    What a feast of poems and fun photos of the Renaissance! Since I’m a die-hard Trekker, I love the idea of a Vulcan Mind Meld Poem though I don’t know that I’ll ever get to do one. 🙂

    Reply

  16. Doraine Bennett
    4 years ago

    What a gorgeous place for poetry gals and gelato.

    Reply

  17. Charles Waters
    4 years ago

    What an AWESOME retreat. Wow!!!!

    Reply

  18. CC
    4 years ago

    Just when the dream was fading, and I was missing everyone,
    along comes Renee working her magic. Click, click! and there we are, LIVE! perched atop our tower–eight new found friends, reciting our freshly-spun poem … and all the memories come flooding back … to the great times, to “Ciao bellas!”, to THE Florence we shared.

    What fun to relish Julie’s GELATO again and be blanketed by Esther’s MADNESS!

    Thank you, Julie, for making your dream, forever ours. Thank you, Renee, for sharing your place with us and for giving me SPACE time with the perfect s o u n d effects. I love it!

    Cory

    Reply

  19. Robyn Hood Black
    4 years ago

    What a wonderful group! (I know, I’m late – was travelling last weekend and have been trying to get to this post for a week.)

    It’s “the next best thing,” but I know actually being there with magical Julie at the helm and everyone else there (Hi, Cory!) was probably fun and inspiration beyond words.

    Thanks to Esther for reading April’s poem (Hi, April!) – love that “severed head… next to the iceberg lettuce” – HA!

    Reply

  20. Penny Klostermann
    4 years ago

    What fun to see the Renaissance group doing their thing! Thinks for bring it to us, Renee!

    Reply

  21. Deborah Holt Williams
    4 years ago

    What a wonderful post–you can just feel the camaraderie between all these talented writers! Thanks for sharing this, Renee!

    Reply

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