Poetry is for sissies.
Or so I thought.
If you had told me two years ago that I’d not only read a bit of poetry, but I’d write some, as well, I would have scoffed condescendingly. But take one English poet, add the allure of a French countryside and open an often closed American mind a little, and it’s possible to turn even a jaded and cynical hard news journalist into a believer.
The setting was the French House Party located in the Languedoc region of Southwest France. Carcassonne, a 400-year-old medieval World Heritage site, sits nearby, adding to the appeal of the area. The French House Party “Experience” is an all-inclusive creative arts vacation retreat that offers a variety of courses in such topics as painting, movie-making, singing, cooking and creative writing.
As a longtime newspaperman, I knew how to write. Stringing sentences together in a coherent and concise manner is easy for me. What’s difficult as a crime reporter – my job in my previous life – is dealing with the horrors of society without letting them affect your psyche. Writing about rapes, robberies and racketeering were staples of my day. That was my life as a crime reporter. Dealing with death and destruction daily for nearly 20 years definitely hardened my view of the world. And I guess I took some of that cynicism with me when I turned my back on that era to write about less grim and solemn subjects.
So, just 18 months removed from my life as a newsman, I decided to venture out of my comfort zone, take a trip to Europe and check myself in to a creative writing retreat. I had no idea what to expect. Not only was it my first trip overseas, but it also was my first foray into creative writing. I figured character development, setting, dialogue and other novel-writing topics would be covered. And they were.