Thursday, November 08, 2007


"Queen of fragrant Eleusis,
Giver of earth's good gifts,
Give me your grace, O Demeter.
You, too, Pesephone, fairest,
Maiden all lovely, I offer
Song for your favor"

My writer's group, The Scribblers, goes on retreats to an island every year. We always have a theme and dress accordingly. This was a Rites of Spring retreat and we followed the theme of Demeter and Persephone. We made flower garlands for our hair and dressed in appropriate costumes. This was me as Persephone.

I actually visited Eleusis once with my Finnish classical scholar friend Vesa. He's an architect so was mainly doing research on the archeological ruins at the site, which was part of the Demeter cult in the ancient times. It was interesting to go along with him and see things from a different persepective.

At this time of year, Persephone has gone back to the depths of the Underworld. Poor Demeter, mourning her daughter. But come Spring, she'll return, as Hades promised, and bring new life back to the Earth.

"Reach me a genetian, give me a torch!
Let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of a flower
down the darker and darker stairs, where
blue is darkened on blueness
even where Persephone goes, just now, from
the frosted September
To the sightless realm where darkness is awake upon dark."

David Herbert Lawrence 1885-1930
"Bavarian Genetians" 1932

"We're a beat generation."
Jack Kerouac

Now, here's my favorite persona. Jack Kerouac, my literary hero from the 1950/60's. I fell in love with his writing after I read On The Road in 1957. He was my pin-up boy. I read Allan Ginsberg too, and hung around smokey bistros listening to bongo drums and poetic readings. I was one of them, the Beat Generation. When I finally got to New York City in 1968 and went to stay in the East Village, I thought I'd died and gone to Beatnik heaven. A dream come true. That trip changed my life completely.

This weekend it's my friend's 50th birthday and I'm co-hosting a party for her. It's going to be a '50's party. I thought about going as a June Cleaver kind of character but hey! I''m not and never have been a June Cleaver. So what was I in the '50's? A rebel. A gypsy soul. A Beatnik. Yes! Unfortunately I've left my Kerouac hat out at my friends in the suburbs so I bought a new cap with a tweed look to it, got a black turtle-neck sweater, will search for my red bandana, and have some black slacks that are almost bell-bottom. Cool, man!
Groovy! Jack, this is in memory of you. I always wanted to write like you did. At most, I've managed to stay a free spirit. And I have lots of memories of those days when we were the beat generation!

"But then they danced down the street like dingledodies, and I shambled after as I've been doing all my life after people who interest me, because the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue center light up and everybody goes "Awwww!" "

Jack Kerouac 1922 - 1969 "On the Road" 1957
Posted by Picasa


Sam said...

I see you as Persephone!!
Fun pictures! A writing retreat sounds like heaven. It's fascinating to hear what scholars have to say about places they've studied. I always feel priviledged when I get a share of their knowledge!
Jack Kerouac! Now there's a fun writer!

Wynn Bexton said...

That Rites of Spring was such a fun retreat. I am sad because this year we didn't go on any. We have some new members in the group and can't seem to rouse their interest. But hopefully in the New Year we'll organize something.

Adrian Swift said...

Having a themed retreat with your local writing group sounds like a lot of fun. Hope the new members get on the ball and realize what they're missing out on!

Good luck with your writing progress!