Monday, September 28, 2015

OPA Fall Retreat at Malabar Farm



In the spring and fall, Ohio Poetry Association sponsors a poetry retreat at Malabar Farm, in Lucas, Ohio. Participants stay at the hostel on the property, a wonderful old farm house managed by OPA member, Mark Sebastian Jordan. The retreats are now in their fifth year. It’s a time of writing, reflection in a peaceful pastoral setting, and reconnecting with other OPA members who share a passion for poetry. During each retreat a workshop leader directs the group in Friday evening and Saturday morning sessions on a specific topic with prompts. Individuals who want to, read their drafts and ideas. The group enjoys an evening potluck meal together and a scrumptious breakfast prepared by OPA Treasurer, Rinda Sansom in the large farm house kitchen. After the evening session, many gather in the basement living area to share poems in a round-robin fashion that can go late into the night. It’s nothing short of 18-20 hours of artistic bliss with poetry comrades in an idyllic setting.
Workshop facilitator, David Garrison


This past September 12-13, Dayton-area poet, David Garrison, led the fall session which focused on writing about people. He shared the following poems as models: “The purpose of poetry” by Jared Carter, “Long Division” by David Lee Garrison, “The Farm Wife’s Vacation” by Janet Ladrach, and “Milk” by Diane Gilliam Fisher.

Workshop participant, Robin Mullet
The group discussed each poem and talked about such things as writing about people we know, how to bring the person into sharp focus, and more. Many created early drafts of poems about family members and people they’ve encountered throughout life. There was a lively discussion about poem endings.

Many individuals have been coming to the event for several years. Participant, Robin Mullet, indicated that often the seed of an idea starts at the retreat and it germinates, sometimes as early as during the ride home. It may not blossom for several weeks, but it’s clear the retreat is a place to generate new material. This sentiment was share by many. Some poems have ended up in the OPA anthologies and in Common Threads, the OPA annual collection, and in other journals.
Welsh poet, J. Tudor Davies with Janet Ladrach


This year, several members came on Friday evening—an option that is open to everyone who 
registers—and were treated to work by a Welsh poet, J. Tudor Davies, who had been staying at the hostel. According to OPA member, Janet Ladrach, he told the group he had won a major Welsh competition "Eisteddfod" in which the winner is given a throne at an elaborate ceremony called: "chairing the bard." The required form for the poem is a complex metered, internal rhymed form of poetry called "cynghanedd."

Before he and his wife, Barbara, left on Saturday morning, Tudor gave a reading of his poem, "Mountain Lake," about the mining disaster in Aberfan, Wales, in 1966. In an impromptu lesson, he showed the group  four lines of poetry in Welsh, highlighting the rhyme and the accent. Of this experience, Janet says, “This is one of the benefits of being part of OPA. If I weren’t a member, I wouldn't have known about the retreat, and I wouldn't have had this wonderful time with a Welsh poet set down among us in mid-Ohio.”

Additional pictures from the weekend 

L-R,  Susann Moeller , Chuck Salmons, Clarissa Jakobsons


Karen Scott



L- R,  Mark Sebastian Jordan and David Hetzler



L- R,  D’Aine Greene and Barbara Sabol


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