How to describe this Festival, its participants, the attendees.? This is an energizing place on two fronts -- religious and literary. I admit that I am here more for the latter, but the religious themes are paramount here at Calvin.
Many people here are devoted to Christianity and dedicate their skills and work to it, give of themselves totally and willingly. Poet Luci Shaw describes it as giving one's self over to a massage from the hands of God -- just turning yourself over to his hands. She believes that it is her calling to write about the beauty of the world as brought to us by the Creator: "Beauty is grace embodied -- something extra given that we don't deserve." She believes that we fail the Creator if we do not celebrate beauty, particularly if we celebrate things that man created instead. "The natural world is where I find the transcendent."
Contrast this belief foundation and background with that of Mary Karr ("The Liars Club"), a tough, up-front, unreserved fireplug who grew up in a hard-scrabble Texas home with abusive and addictive parents, who fought for everything, with everybody; who abused drugs and alcohol as a young adult. She began using prayer to help guide her life decisions, did it reluctantly and with little faith that it will work -- and has discovered that the power is in letting go: "I surrendered. The solution to my problems is a spiritual solution." She began to see life connections when she prayed. She started her presentation with a prayer, which included, "God, I know you have a lesson here for each of us today, please guide us and show us what the hell it is."
Not your classic liturgical methodology. She has become a Catholic, and uses Jesuit prayer guides to help her through life.
The final startling highlight was at the poetry open mic tonight. One of the presenters was a young man who did performance poetry -- rap, without the music. He stepped away from the microphone, bounced with the words, pointed and waved his arms, shouted, whispered. This, amid some of the more traditional poems read by the rest of us...
Creativity comes in all forms.