Dienstag, 25. März 2014

Writing poetry in Lisbon?

"Everything that surrounds us becomes part of us." Fernando Pessoa

When one is writing, success is not necessarily something you wanna count on. In the beginning, when I was like 15-25, I thought, I would one day be famous and of course rich. But later I learned, step by step, that in my case it was rather realistic to say, it was about the writing itself and the adventure it meant, inside and out, to just keep writing, no matter what, and to see where it leads me to. I still never cease to send my writing out into the world, for contests, to publishing companies and the like.
I try to follow the rule to send out something once every week. And in 50% of the cases I get an answer that sounds like: "interesting work, but no thanks", in 49% of the cases I get no answer whatsoever and in approximately 1% of the cases I get an answer that is like: " congrats, you were a semifinalist!" or "congrats, we will publish your poem in our e-book collection" or even once "congrats, you are on the shortlist", Whenever I get this kind of answer, I fall into utter disbelieve and shock, because probably somebody mixed me up with somebody else. Since yesterday now I am in shock again, because I got the answer with the semi finalist, which in this particular case means: a partial scholarship of 500$ to cover parts of the tuition ( a pretty expensive tuition I might add) for a 2 week international writing workshop in Lisbon/Portugal. It is called Disquiet International Literary Program in Lisbon and it was founded by american writers, who have ties to Portugal and want to deepen the mutual understanding between american and portuguese writers. (See, they must have mixed me up, because I am neither american nor portuguese!!) It takes its inspiration from The Book of Disquiet by Fernando Pessoa, which I could read, finally, after buying it 25 years ago and keeping it in the stack of unread books beside my bed and somehow in my heart. I always knew, I would read it and love it and that Fernando Pessoa was somehow a soulmate to me. Ever since I have been to Lisbon over 20 years ago (and I actually went there to have a little wild love affair with a portuguese guy named Jose, whom I met, of all places, on the spanish stairs in Rome, I AM NOT KIDDING!), I dreamed about returning and writing there. Because Lisbon is one of those places you can just drop and leave me, and I will be happy and feel homesick, when I have to go home again (I had this kind of feeling only with a few other places: Richmond/Va., Rome, New York and Berlin, maybe New Mexico, to name a few). I felt like I belong and that this city was also a soulmate to me and that I might as well stay and spend the rest of my life there. Which I didn't, because I had to spend most of it in Berlin so far. But here we go now:  I could take a workshop in poetry, walk the streets of Lisbon, take a trip or two to nearby beaches, sit around in the beautiful parks and cafés of Lisbon, revisit Belem, (did I mention, that I even slept one night on the street in Lisbon, but that was 25 years ago and I was on my way to the Algarve and waited for the bus to bring me there and did not have money to pay a room) I could meet interesting writers, make new friends, write and write and write and find out, if my feeling from over 20 years ago is still valid. But no matter what will happen, Lisbon could surround me and become again a part of me and for good or worse, that would be a great experience.

These are the ten poems, which might have helped a lot to make this dream come true, which proved again, to me, that writing is such an adventure and can lead you everywhere, maybe even, where you need to go?!
Now I just have to decide, if I am generous enough (with my self maybe) to spend part of my money for the remaining tuition, for a flight and a room, ultimately for one of my many dreams. I will sit in silence for a while and ponder this question now. Good night!

© Susanne Becker