Saturday, October 29, 2005

South of the Border...

San Miguel de Allende

It feels good to be back on foreign soil, Bush. Not that America is not (still!) a wonderful country, but things definitely feel different down here in the middle of Mexico. As our host said to us—with more than a hint of sadness and cynicism--last night at dinner, "Down here, there are three things people care about: festivals, family, and food. In America, it’s money, money, and money." And, sadly, there’s more than a hint of truth in what she said. Down here, Bush, you really feel the grit and grind of life. You’re close to the bone all the time. And close to the heart and soul. It’s time to be gearing up for the Day of the Dead. Memento mori everywhere: grinning skulls made of sugar, skeletons dangling their bony extensions, ghosts and goblins. A bit like Halloween. Except that Halloween has lost its heart and soul. Nobody thinks any more that it’s REALLY about the dead, and about what death and dying mean in our experience of life. Halloween is about giving the kids a good time. It’s about treats.

Well anyway, Bush, one half of our mission down here is accomplished (to borrow a phrase that might bring you some small discomfort!) We came down to give a reading, first, which I did last night; and to lead a workshop, which we do together this morning, in a little while. The reading was a wonderful experience. It has been a while since I did a public reading, and it felt really good to have an audience out there, listening to what I spend my life writing—especially an audience as warm and receptive as this one. It was the first time I had read extracts from our Diaries, Bush, too, and you would have been interested in the response. You might expect an ex-pat crowd—and there’s a whole colony of them down here—to be open to a somewhat liberal attitude to what’s happening back home. To judge from the reception for those snippets from The Bush Diaries, Bush, there’s a lot of concern about the way you’re doing business up there in the States.

It would be great to think I’d found a few new readers for our venture at the reading, Bush. The applause at the end was certainly warm and, I think, heartfelt. What a thrill for me, and a privilege, to have such an opportunity to communicate with a few dozen fellow human beings! When it was done, I felt really good about the work I do, on both fronts: the poetry and the blog. And a lot of gratitude for those who took the time to come and hear me…

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