Poet Katie Kingston was selected as a 2011 Finalist for the Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize for her poem written during our Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat in Oaxaca. Katie gave us permission to publish the poem and to share her workshop experience (below).
Teotitlán del Valle, Mexico
I have been waiting days to move
to the hammock, to drift
beneath the white portal into a white
dream delineated by black
Above me, the green tree
full of green grapefruit and a cluster
of yellow birds. My sky sways
with palm leaves and wingspan.
like a lullaby.
In the distance a child
wails blue syllables and the rooster
releases another qui-qui-ri-qui-qui.
I sketch their sounds on paper
alongside the corrugated bray
The hammock swings
in the key of G. I am surrounded by tuning
forks and pomegranate blossoms.
I call this place
Lull is the word that comes
to mind. Lull says the wood smoke, lull
says the sheet on the line, lull says
the loom’s shuttle tapping wool strands
of indigo and cochineal
into the snug fit
Sometimes the name for gold
dye escapes me, so I put down the pen, feel
the rhythm of my body as if I too
am a leaf lulled by breeze,
as if I too am held to the branch
by a nub of stem.
–Katie Kingston, Finalist in the 2011 Pablo Neruda Prize,
First Published in Nimrod International Journal, Vol.55 Titled What Time Is It?
What Katie Kingston says about the Women’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat:
Immersion in a new culture with a group of talented and inspiring women was definitely the catalyst for this poem, “Woman Resting.” One day I found myself resting in the hammock, and while letting its hypnotic sway take over, I experienced the flooding of the five senses in this magical place, Teotitlán del Valle. I was motivated to write this poem, to try in one small way to capture the experience of this slower paced lifestyle. I haven’t experienced such a “lull” since childhood.
Teotitlán del Valle is all about weaving; indigo and cochineal dye hangs in natural wool skeins from the roof top lines. It fact, it seems that everything hangs from the sky in Teotitlan: the drying threads, the hammocks, the pomegranates, the grapefruits, the laundry, and even the sounds: birds, burros, roosters, pigs. The experience at the Oaxaca Woman’s Creative Writing and Yoga Retreat was enhanced by the meditative atmosphere that allows for interpretation with a gathering of women who believe in writing as a spiritual plunge into the unknown.
When I returned to the United States, I submitted the poem to Nimrod International Journal’s 2011 Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, firstname.lastname@example.org, where it placed as a finalist and was published in the Nimrod Award Issue titled, “What Time Is It?” Other good news followed. I submitted my manuscript, What Does Lorca Own?, which had been reviewed at the conference by Professor Robin Greene, our instructor. We discussed the manuscript in depth, and I sent out the revision to several competitions. It placed as a finalist in the 2011 Idaho Prize for Poetry, www.losthorsepress.org, and will be published in October 2012 by Lost Horse Press (distributed by the University of Washington Press, Seattle) under the new title Translating Clouds.
No writer ever writes alone, and I have many individuals to thank for their support including Norma Hawthorne, Robin Greene, Susan Florence, and the other talented participants of the 2011 Oaxaca Women’s Writing Retreat. For me, the experience was a success, giving me the time to write new poems, forge new friendships, and experience a new culture, where I felt welcome and safe as I hiked the village roads and spoke to goat herders, children learning English, and women who smiled back.