FROM SHOCK TO RELIEF Another terrific GWG writers’ workshop Yun Wei, back in Geneva from New York, set out to reveal What Poetry and Fiction Can Learn from Each Other. To begin with, she laid out the defining features of Poetry vs Fiction. Deterred by the stringent requirements enumerated under F, I ticked off the entire list under P and instantly recognized the pitiless mugshot: the lost, lopsided poet, cut loose from time and space, precariously holding on to her soaring balloons of words. It was a shock. Soothingly, Yun encouraged adepts of both genres to dare cross borders and be free from conventional stereotypes. There was a powerful reason to trust her invitation to try out genre-bending – had she not, barely arrived in Switzerland and GWG, in one fell swoop won the Geneva Literary Prize in both fiction and poetry? Talk about a reality test! Yun showed how each can enrich the other: how poetry can entice fiction to seduce with magic and musicality, and how fiction’s narrative, setting and specific detail can give poetry a firm foothold in reality. We were offered a wealth of information and insights, a list of multiple points of approach: cross-border fluidity, a broader canvas and unusual takes, with magical realism a possible choice. Helpful handouts gave examples of how various authors accomplished beyond-genre expansion. We were encouraged to try it ourselves — with the promise of an adventure pregnant with possibilities. The morning workshop (and even more so the masterclass – only an afternoon instead of a full day) was fast-paced, precise and focused, in an ambiance of common endeavor, caring and cooperation, with new, fresh voices coming to the fore. It exemplified the growth and perfection GWG fosters. A pervasive sense of the Geneva global spirit and our no-limits-times was present in the teaching, the pieces presented and read, and the participants themselves (in the masterclass alone: ten voices from four continents including Down Under). A single, intense day witnessed a symbolic tearing down of walls and surprise trans-genre fiançailles, with the weather echoing our theme with sunshine and rain. Yun rode off on her bike into the evening as the sky showered down its blessings.
Excited how words make us come alive and connect us across time and space. How we can share our love for shooting stars, jacaranda trees and the mystery of thunder storms. How the crystalline design of snowflakes holds a world of meaning.
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