Doing Poetry Down in Old Mexico
by Art Goodtimes
Mar 04, 2010 | 1535 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
FIELD NOTES … In his Paris Review interview that appears in the Gary Snyder Reader, my favorite American poet suggests that his writing method includes working up field notes from his experiences in the world. It’s an anthropology habit that can serve poets well, I think, especially those that accept the bardic function of speaking for place … I’ve adopted the technique and am sharing some of my Mexico field notes with you this week.

MEXICO… Sporting a Squirrel Farms Ranch car door logo and an “Indian Country” bumpersticker, Ridgway songwriter/painter/poet Jane Shapiro and I drove the Mexican spine from Monclova almost to Querétano and Mexico City – me for the first annual Gourd South gathering at Simple Choice Farm on the road of Jalpa outside of historical San Miguel de Allende – a World Heritage site (Telluride ought to be one as well). And she to attend the Fifth Annual San Miguel International Writers Conference … Finding Mouse back in town to help the kids out at Mouse’s Chocolates in Ouray, where they make my favorite mocha in the whole world … Camped at Santa Fe’s campy El Rey Inn straight out some Route 66 book of Thirties Southwest kitsch (where they advertise wifi that doesn’t work) & wandering around Fanta Se in the dark for an hour, looking for someplace to eat, only to stumble upon the marvelous Café Maya, with its fabulously delicious New Mexican-style rellenos and enchiladas. Natural ingredients. Moderate prices. Even the beans were delicious … Surreptitiously snapping photos at the Anderson Museum of Contemporary Art in Roswell, with its quirky collection of erratic but often brilliant sculptures and paintings … A passerby helping us with directions across the border from Eagle Pass (Texas), personally shepherding us to the moneychanger’s storefront, smiling at our disreputable Spanish … Federale at the checkpoint outside Piedras Negras (Coahuila) nervously fingering his Uzi as our gas-guzzling gringo SUV inexplicably backs up in front of his military post … Spending a luxurious night in the sumptuous Fiesta Inn in San Luis Potosí after motoring day and night from Monclova south in a driving rain, locked in a train of fast driving trucks (one’s rear trailer weaving horribly in front of me, about to jackknife at any moment, I’m sure, though it doesn’t) … Doing 110 kilometers an hour near Saltillo, the truck ahead and I pass a donkey standing frozen in the fast lane, the headlights illuminating its wet long-eared silhouette for a second, immobilized in fear, as we whiz by … Delivering Joan to the elegant Casa Quetzal on the narrow cobbled streets of San Miguel de Allende, where the owner walks us through its lovely rooms, artwork and roof-top gardens … Cozy rooms, elegant grounds, outrageously ample and delicious (if simple) meals at Simple Choice Farm, where Judyth Hill and Michael McKenna orchestrate food as an art form in a converted chocolate factory & host the first Gourd South for a handful of writerly cognoscenti and a few adventuresome souls www.simplechoicefarmartistretreat.com … Farm staffers Lupe, Rosa and Chewy delight us with their smiling indigenous wisdom and eagerness to learn … Catching up with professor emeritus Leonard “Red” Bird formerly of Ft. Lewis College in Durango at the writers’ conference, where Barbara Kingsolver headlined and Gran Gourdita del Sur Judyth and yours truly opened the event with a Talking Gourds bardic tête-à-tête that was very well received (CDs available at www.sanmiguelwritersconference.org). Got a signed copy of Red’s slim but compelling combination of poetry and prose, Folding Paper Cranes: An Atomic Memoir (Univ. of Utah Press, Salt Lake City, 2005) … Meeting two life coaches for cancer – a powerful healing couple from the Wellness Institute of San Miguel de Allende, where they offer a powerful program of mind/body techniques that bring a non-invasive, multi-therapeutic approach to the resolution of all types of illnesses, especially cancer www.thewellnessinstituteofsanmiguel.com; … Making a pilgrimage to the hot springs at La Gruta, with its luscious grounds, swallowtail butterflies and flowering cacti. Wading the waist-deep tunnel to the giant rock-domed pool with its waterfall of hot water every couple hours and its arrow straight beams of Euclidean sunlight hitting the roiled clear mineral spring waters & dancing an alchemical image on the deep shadowed inner roof … Driving several wrong way streets in Santa Maria del Rio (on Highway 57 north of San Miguel de Allende) – one of the cleanest and most colorful cities seen on our 3000+ mile drive south of the border … Passed through Pecos (Texas), with its intriguing sign claiming it as the “home of the rodeo” (held July 4, 1883). However, Wikipedia disagrees and suggests: “Early rodeo-like affairs of the 1820s and 1830s were informal events in the western United States and northern Mexico with cowboys and vaqueros testing their work skills against one another. Following the American Civil War, rodeo competitions emerged, with the first held in Cheyenne, Wyoming in 1872. Prescott, Arizona, claims the distinction of holding the first professional rodeo, as it charged admission and awarded trophies in 1888” … Running into Tellurider Kari Malver on the looms at Tierra Wools in Los Ojos (New Mexico) where I always stop anytime I’m through the area to gather loops of hand-dyed churro wool for my basket-weaving. Kari’s hosting a weaving workshop in Oaxaca with a Zapotec master weaver May 13-22. For more info, contact Kari at 728-6743.


That’s U.S.

One Halliburton

Under Goldman-Sachs

With Great Riches for the Few

& Servile Freedom

for the Rest

-Jack Mueller

Log Hill Village

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