"I am trying to check my habits of seeing, to counter them for the sake of greater freshness. I am trying to be unfamiliar with what I'm doing." - John Cage

Thursday, July 23, 2009

July 11-17 Second Week at PSP

This weekend I discovered Café Slavia, one of the oldest large marble-hewn cafes in Prague overlooking the river. I went with Brendon, Nancy, Sean, and myself to write. We ate and then wrote on our computers or notebooks. Outside, river boats and swans and people-powered paddle boats wandered the wide river. The bridge passes over an island right outside the café. Trams rattle past. People with their dogs walk by the big windows. It is rumored that Franz Kafka wrote here, and that he even conversed with Ginsberg at the Slavia.

When I left the café, lugging my computer on my back, I walked back up Petrin Hill, through the public orchard, a great workout. The hill is steep and lush through a thick forest. A funitel tram runs up the hill but I hiked the winding paths. Suddenly I was at a café overlooking the entire city, gold rooftops shining. European hares hopped back into the underbrush. In the orchard, people picked sour cherries and sat in the shade and took photos. Near the top of the hill the path becomes narrow and muddy and passes sandstone caves in the hillside where homeless people had laid out cardboard beds for later when the sun set. A reclusive place for return. And then a round wooden fountain, just some water running across a bamboo spout and the rocks covered with moss.

On Sunday I wandered around IP Pavlova, found a restaurant and the teahouse in the photo above where I wrote for a long while. I walked the long evening light back along the river and crossed Charles Bridge as it got dark. The bridge was still crowded with tourists, swans in the water, beautiful light on the buildings.

I wrote a lot of new material this week for Pamela Ushuk’s writing assignments. She gave us detailed assignments for each class, generating new poems every other day. In the photo we are in workshop outside in the gardens of the Monastery, part of the Castle grounds. The Castle is still used by diplomats and other decision makers in the Czech Republic. Remembering the picnickers from before, I spent an afternoon in the orchard by the Prague Castle, napping and writing. This time I watched many people with bushel bags over their shoulders picking cherries, peaches, persimmon, apricots. The pears are still small and hard.

We attended two readings this week, Tuesday and Thursday nights. Students in the program read their work on Friday night. One afternoon I wandered the city in the rain and found a covered garden where I could sit and eat salad and write in my journal and read my book. I've been reading Milan Jundera's The Unbearable Lightness of Being. The evening when the day cools down is delicious in the orchard so I went back at least twice this week.