|A panoramic view of Caltagirone|
|In the Labyrinth of Ariadne|
(Gianfranco Molino near the entrance)
|The Tyrrhenian Sea at sunset|
affirm the superiority of the principle of Beauty than that of finance and economics. The real aim is promote a collective thinking: economic power is subject to the power of knowledge. To be free, men and women need to nourish by knowledge.
|At the Birch Forest|
reading, Mt. Etna
(photo by C)
The high-school age student participants wrote poems based on the theme of "knowledge." Their teachers then selected some of these poets to read during the two day-long sessions at the Birch Forest on Mt. Etna. The students would thus, to quote the Foundation, become "not only passive receptors of the poetic Word but, through a prior preparation of the school, first-person protagonists of the expressive modes." They would also be active members of the audience for the published poets, and one of the highlights for me was meeting some of the young poets and their classmates, particularly those who were studying English, as well as those who were immigrants and refugees. One, Ibrahim, who introduced himself to C and me, mentioned that he was living in one of the local towns, but was originally from Gambia, and thanked me for my poem in English. I spoke briefly with a few others before taking a few selfies (which may be floating around Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other sites, though I haven't seen them). A third component of their participation entailed collaboratively producing "ethical manifestos." These texts would provide "essential theoretical, moral and ontological support" for their poetry, their lives, and their futures.
|Museum of Contemporary Art, Caltagirone|
|On TV, with Josephine, in Caltagirone|
(Photo by C)
|Walking toward the Pyramid|
|C in one of the rooms at the Museo Hotel|
Atelier sul Mare, Castel di Tusa, La Stanza
della Luce, designed by Pepi Morgia
In addition to Carmine's songs, musician Michele LaPaglia improvisationally and impressionistically accompanied the poetry readings--unless poets asked him not to--using a series of percussion and wind instruments. He concluded both of the Birch Forest events in conjunction with audience members who were equipped with brightly colored plastic tubes that doubled as whistles, issuing ethereal tones in response to Michele's. Between the ritual opening and the closing music, established and student poets, whom Antonio Presti introduced and often posed questions to, read for roughly 3 minutes each. Nearly all the poets adhered to these guidelines. Michele performed with the poets at the church readings too, and I am still amazed at how he often found an appropriate accompaniment to the work each of us read. (I did ask him to produce a darker tone for my poem "Words," which is a litany about mis-understanding as reality.)
|Salvatore Comodo, one of two|
Italian politicians we met
|Black cats, poolside, in Palermo|
|Poet Cia Rinne, reading|
|The church where we read|
|The student poets before one of the|
readings in Piedimonte Etneo
After we left Linguaglossa, Antonio Zinga drove us to Castel di Tusa, Messina, where we stayed in the extraordinary--and that is putting it mildly--Museum Hotel (a/k/a Atelier sul Mare Museo Albergo) Castel di Tusa--which is literally, not just figuratively, a hotel that not only holds numerous works of art, but also is also a work of art itself. And I mean its rooms are art installations, some so fully so that they were truly conceptual in design and function. I include photos below and on the next page. In Castel di Tusa, we were right on the sea, but we took a walking tour of the town, which rose ladderlike via steeply ramped streets. During our outing we spotted bodyguards and glimpsed a person we figured must be a famous person having lunch not far from us, and after a bit of Googling we realized after he had left that it was the President of Sicily, Rosario Crocetta. We thought about asking him for a photo, but decided we probably shouldn't bother him. The next day, at a completely different restaurant, while having a leisurely early lunch (before a second lunch at the hotel!), we ran into this same gentleman, and this time we asked for and took a photo with him, which is below.
|C, the President of Sicily, and yours truly|
That day we also visited a number of the giant sculptures that the Foundation had erected near Castel di Tusa, including the almost indescribable giant Pyramid/38° Parallel, which sits high atop a mountain and which will, in a few weeks, be the site of a solstice festival. To reach the Pyramid, whose latitude is exactly that of the line dividing North and South Korea, and which you can spot from many vantages far below, you must drive up a dizzyingly circuitous road--though there is also a cow--or goat?--path that you can climb to reach it--then park, and walk up towards the triangular structure, which you then enter via a pitch-black tunnel, proceeding slowly until you come upon stone stairs that take you up into the mostly dark giant structure itself, which has a stone labyrinth inside it, and which only a thin opening illuminates. We visited it with Antonio Presti, Gianfranco, Tiziana, Ted, and a young journalist whose name escapes me, and I have to admit that at one point, as we stood near the edge of the cliff, I could feel vertigo slowly creeping inside me, though the sublime sunset over the sea helped to subdue my anxiety about the cliffs. In addition to the Pyramid, we also walked the Labyrinth of Ariadne (Labirinto di Ariana), which provided another unexpected but exhilarating workout. At its center was a tree: the Tree of Life.
|The mountainside towns|
near Mt. Etna
We said goodbye to Castel di Tusa and Sicily one week after we arrived, riding back to Palermo early in the morning courtesy of Gianfranco, who gave us a verbal tour as we headed northwest via Sicily's beautiful--and that hour, mostly empty--highways. The return via Palermo Airport involved far less hassle than I usually encounter in US airports, and though it felt great to land at JFK, I immediately felt a pang of wistfulness because we had such an incredible time in Sicily. I also would return in a heartbeat. To repeat my thanks from my first paragraph, the hospitality, warmth, kindness, generosity, and attentiveness of our Sicilian hosts was superlative at every point during the trip, and once again, though I have little bit around the world, never have I been treated as well as I have when in Sicily. To everyone who made our visit possible, MILIONE GRAZIE A TUTTI!
(More photos in the next post!)