Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Femfest 2009, Part 2-The I Am Poems

As I mentioned in an earlier post, Femfest has been going on for over twenty years. It has evolved from a spontaneous campout into a highly organized and anticipated half week at a State Park, with a fine river nearby. The air-conditioned cabins are fully equipped with kitchens and tiny but complete bathrooms. We bring enough food to stay for a week and enough magazines for a month.

For several years, we cabin-hopped, trying various locations around the park, including the Big Red Barn, a fly-ridden bunkhouse with an unfortunate proximity to the horse stables. My sisters and I finally settled on the two hilltop cabins with adjoining fire pit, and for a few years we also rented one of the “primitives” across the road (no ac, kitchen, or plumbing, just a couple of bunk beds and a fridge.) I slept there. A few of us would go behind this little cabin to hide from the kids and smoke. Furtive ironic flashbacks.

Now the kids are growing up, boys moving towards manhood, girls getting jobs, and several sisters have made it a habit to sleep outside, so we’ve given up the primitive cabin rather than pay for empty beds.

One constant through the years has been Chief’s craft project. (Chief was her name or her rank back at Christ Child Camp, circa 1969, and it’s her Fest name, too. I’m Granny by virtue of being older than everyone by at least 4 months. We also have a Pee-Pee—yep—and a Pinkie, a Scary, and a Crazy-Eye.)

Chief has a stash of paints, glue guns, glitter, sequins, beads, seeds, feathers, rocks, sea shells, bark, interesting bits of flotsam from her farm, and a wood-burner. One year she brought birdhouse gourds; birds have never come to live in mine, perhaps they’re put off its ostentatious fabulousness, but I still think it looks cool hanging on my porch. Another year we made mobiles, and I still have mine hanging in my bedroom—when I’m just waking, it looks like the ocean, drifting in the corner of my room. The projects always turn out to be cooler than I think they will.

This year Grasshopper, the Chief’s daughter, (who was not yet born when we had our first Femfest on the beach at Fremont Lakes) is twenty-three. She took it upon herself to have t-shirts made. She sent out about a dozen goddess images for us to vote on. We agreed to a Greek image of Diana, with stag and quiver, which she had printed on lavender t-shirts. This theme was the inspiration for our first writing craft project.

Initially, we were supposed to write our own goddess myths, but nobody could get started. Then I remembered the “I Am” poem. This is a project familiar to teachers everywhere, something even the most reluctant writer can do, as easy as filling in a survey. I couldn’t remember the form exactly, so Scary Googled it on her i-phone and we went to it. The brave among us wrote these I Ams from the persona of whatever goddess we perceived ourselves to be.

And that’s how I spent my summer vacation.

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