Please enjoy these blogposts, written between 2011 and 2015. Another blog is on the way.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Learning to Tell It Slant in Wales

This year, as you know if you've been checking in with my infrequent blogposts, I'm willing to go just about anywhere if it will help break the logjam in my head. I'm in North Wales for the next two weeks, taking two consecutive writing workshops offered by Literature Wales. This week's workshop is "Telling It Slant: Writing about Climate Change," and the tutors (that's what instructors are called here) are Jay Griffiths and Robert Minhinnick.

View of Criccieth Castle and the sea
It wasn't easy to get here. I flew from Vancouver, British Columbia (just over the border from my home in Bellingham, Washington) to Heathrow, now a labyrinthine shopping mall as much as an airport. After schlepping my baggage from one terminal to another, I missed my connecting flight to Liverpool, flew to Manchester instead, then took a train to Liverpool. The following day I boarded another train to Wales, to the town of Criccieth, on the wrist of the Welsh hand that reaches into the Irish Sea.

Once the train reached the Welsh beaches, vacationers climbed on and off in droves. Because I'd transferred to this line in Shrewsbury, England, I hung onto my window seat all the way to Criccieth. Across from me sat an amateur painter who travels to Wales every summer. He filled me in on the landscape and the beach towns. He talked at length about Welsh history and politics. All was friendly until, near the end of the trip, I told him I was traveling to take a class on writing about climate change. His face, his diction, the tone of his voice immediately altered: "We may be experiencing climate change," he said, "but I can't believe we caused it." He wasn't so chatty after that, a reminder that approaching this subject directly still doesn't work with most people. Hence the second half of this workshop's title, "Telling It Slant," which is borrowed from the Emily Dickinson poem that begins, "Tell all the truth but tell it slant/Success in Circuit lies."

Literature Wales holds its classes, one at a time, ten students per class, in a beautiful old house called Ty Newydd. Room and board (lovely food!) are included in the cost. I don't know yet how to write at a slant about climate change. In a day or two, I hope to have at least a clue.