Monday, March 17, 2008

The wind was so wild on the way back from the Isle of Wight tonight the FastCat was nearly cancelled. Wonderfully hospitable though our venue was - it's run by Yannis Andricopoulos, also Oberon to the magic island of Skyros - I do feel the 10 participants on my course deserved better weather while finding their Writers' Voice. The Grange is only a spit from the lovely sandy coastline at Shankhill, but the rain spitted back throughout most of our weekend stay, though this didn't diminish the exuberance of a talented and delightfully goodhumoured group. You know something's gelled when the entire course reconvenes after a demanding day's work at the village inn (helpfully named The Village Inn) for late-night supper together.
The retro charm of the Isle of Wight featured in several pieces of writing: 50s? 70s? We couldn't quite decide...

Pastel shades on the seafront have the dainty dilapidated charm of Miss Marple's theme tune, but the live music at the pub was Eagles era. What will I take with me? Full grey skies, golden gorse, pewter seas. Generosity, warmth, laughter. Passion, integrity, constant coffee.

According to Ted Hughes, Ovid was interested in passion too, I'm told by the programme notes of 'Tales from Ovid: Metamorphosis', as presented by the A/S Level drama students at Frome College. It's a vibrant and unequivocal production, all the more impressive as the students apparently shared the direction as well as, literally, the characters they portrayed. This is passion in extremis, mutating through violence into something surreal... I'm trying to make a link here with the tempestuous sorrow Lorca talks about, in order to morph into a final comment on the concept of duende, which I had never heard of until this week. Duende is the kind of inexplicable sadness at the heart of many songs - not with the poignancy of tristesse, but with a force that 'jets up like blood'. I read about it in the Back page of the Guardian (which I bought for the Philip Larkin booklet): "a terrible question that has no answer...Bob Dylan has always had it. Leonard Cohen deals specifically with it. Tom Waits can summon it.'
...Sounds like a Writers' Voice to me.

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