my first symposium on poetic inquiry, my first lobster

Posted by Daniela Elza on Oct 20 2009

I am back from the Second International Symposium on Poetic Inquiry. It is an event that takes place every two years. Initially it was held at UBC (Vancouver) and this year in Prince Edward Island. I missed the first one, so this second one was my first. I enjoyed meeting people from different disciplines in the humanities who were brought together by the passion to pursue, re/present, and integrate poetic consciousness into their research, and work. The presentations ranged from performance of poetry that embodies re/search and thought, to papers about the poetic way, its benefits and challenges, how it has been incorporated in class, or research and the opportunities it brings. The next one will take place in Bournemouth, England.

It was interesting to see the different levels of comfort and discomfort with poetry in our work. There were also quite a number of poets in the midst of the symposium at evening poetry gatherings and readings. Overall, a great experience. For once I went to a gathering/conference where I felt I belong. At most conferences I feel like the oddity, a bit on the periphery. But not this one.

The other thing of note was that I had never travelled this far east in Canada. The farthest I had gone was Saskatoon, and that was for the CSSE congress/ conference. PEI reminded me of England, especially as we were coming down on the plane. And talking about firsts, I had my first whole lobster on Saturday night. Also my first seafood chowder at lunch on Sunday. It was heavenly, the chowder I mean. The lobster was ok, a bit of work while trying to hold a conversation and make sure neither the lobster nor the conversation got out of hand.

Ok, I will also confess I tried curried butter chicken on hand cut fries. They had the rice option, but what’s the fun if one does not move with the spirit of a place. It was surprisingly good, I have to admit. But am not sure if that was because I was really hungry after having had orange juice, oatmeal cranberry crunch cookies, and Bits and Bites on the plane all day. Yet, all that is irrelevant. In that moment at 11 pm on Thursday night, in a PEI pub called the Gahan, a block away from my hotel The Great George’s, it was awesomely delicious.

While I was at the conference I also got a note that I have won an Honorable Mention in the Surrey International Writers Conference (SiWC) poetry contest. That was pretty cool too, but not a first.

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