It's Sunday morning, and my desk need some serious tidying. That's because it's covered with notes I took during the Blue Metropolis Literary Festival, which comes to an end today. Yesterday, I went to hear two writers speak about their work. The first was James Frey, the controversial author of A Million Little Pieces; the second was Irish poet Paul Muldoon. The two couldn't have been more different. Frey spoke mostly about the relationship between fact and the memoir. (You may know that he got into considerable trouble when it was discovered his memoir of his experience in drug rehab was heavily ficitonalized.) Frey did not try to hide his disdain for fact. He said what he's after is the truth, which he believes is not the same thing at all as fact. He certainly gave the audience lots to think about. People seemed to react strongly to him -- either they thought he was terrific or awful. I have to admit I was a little put off by all his swearing and one of my friends walked out of the room after 20 minutes because she was so turned off by the language he used.
Now Paul Muldoon was much gentler, much more comfortable, I think, with himself. He read several of his poems, all of them lovely to hear and playful, too. He told us that one of his favourite parts of being a writer is that he gets to "ventriloquize" -- speak in other people's voices. I thought that was great and I loved how Muldoon invented a new word to describe what he does.
Muldoon will be reading again today at Blue Met, but I can't make it. I'm doing a different sort of talk this morning, for a Jewish women's group. They've asked me to talk about a subject I generally prefer to avoid: domestic violence. Long ago, and it seems most days like a lifetime away, I was the victim of domestic abuse. But you know, as a teacher, I'm always urging my students to write about difficult things -- the most difficult things, in fact -- and I guess this morning will be my turn to go to those places myself. Wish me luck. Later, or perhaps tomorrow, I'm going to post a photo of my spring garden. It'll be a reminder that even when awful things have happened or are happening, there is new life and renewal afterwards.