Camino: Porto to Santiago, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Entering Phase 2 of the coronavirus with the help of the Camino, history, humor, and Garrison Keillor & Randy Rainbow

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Decontamination crews are spraying down the streets of San Miguel de Allende today. The visuals alone ought to drive the doubters indoors. (Photograph by John Bohnel)

So, Mexico entered Phase 2 on Tuesday. While the president still hugs and kisses the babies and young girls, his Health secretary has called for restaurants and casinos to be closed, for public gatherings to disperse — you know, the same stuff we have been doing in San Miguel for a couple of weeks now.

Only, a lot less.

Phase 2 is clinically called the “community transmission phase.”

Phase 2 feels like Mom calling the kids inside to safety — after it starts raining. The kids have been playing outside, conscious of the dark clouds building. Continue reading

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Memoirs -- fact and fiction, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Exit, stage left, smoking Glock in hand

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A two-character, three-page play written to honor a talented theater critic, newspaper colleague, and friend who just announced an early retirement. The characters in this play no way resemble my friend. That would be purely coincidental …

Curtain goes up, in an empty theater.

On an empty stage, two characters face each other. One, Jim, is fully lit. The other is in the shadows. We enter in the middle of a conversation.

Voice: You’re sure? Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Something is different: A morning walk in San Miguel in the Age of Pandemia

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Early evening in San Miguel de Allende. The clouds rise up in the east like fluffy canvases, awaiting the inspiration of the dying sun to recast them in gold and amber hues.

We walk this same path over and over, Moppit and I.

The pattern is unchanging.

Open the front door at 7 a.m.

Glance up into the sky and count the hot air balloons.

Or remark on their absence.

 

Today was a day to note their absence. Continue reading

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San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Shadowboxing and other enchanting things that catch the eye in San Miguel de Allende

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It is no revelation that San Miguel de Allende is awash in beauty. A photographer’s playground, a selfie’s sandbox, a dilettante’s garden of earthly delights.

Like shooting into a herd of buffalo. Aim your camera in any direction and you will hit the mark, as often as not.

How many people arrive in San Miguel and launch into the uber project — snapping photos of every attractive doorway, every brass knocker, with the objective of creating the perfect coffeetable book?

I did. Continue reading

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#smwc2020, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

In a chaotic world, writers play with the traditional structure of novels

Arbol-Literario-banner-2The recently concluded San Miguel Writers Conference and Literary Festival made one thing pretty clear: Playing with time and structure, in the hands of inventive authors, makes for storytelling that is both challenging and riveting.

The chronological timeline seems so passe, when you add up the considerable success of the featured keynote authors.

Consider: 

Continue reading

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#smwc2020, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Poet Juan Felipe Herrera: Tell someone today, ‘You have a beautiful voice’

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Poet and author Juan Felipe Herrera reads from one of his 30 published books at the San Miguel Writers’ Conference and Literary Festival #smwc2020 on Saturday, Feb. 15, 2020.

Prologue: Juan Felipe Herrera was Poet Laureate of the United States 2015-17. He is an artist, a teacher, the author of 30 books across all genres, and he plays a mean harmonica.

As a keynote speaker at the 15th annual San Miguel Writers’ Conference and Literary Festival, Herrera put the harmonica to good use. He also introduced plenty of “participatory poetry,” goading on the audience to share the load as he read his poems.

Herrera’s commentary is every bit as poetic as his published works. In fact, it was hard sometimes to see where his beguiling banter ended and a poem began.

Herrera’s life was a rough one from the start. His family traveled up and down California in the migrant labor trucks, from harvest to harvest.  Continue reading

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#smwc2020, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Welcome to the many rooms of author Madeleine Thien

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Madeleine Thien signing books after her keynote address at #smwc2020 on Wednesday.

If the author Madeleine Thien were an Air B&B, there would be a waiting list 600 people strong to occupy her rooms.

The rooms of her imagination, the rooms of her research, the rooms of metaphor, and tangible rooms of exacting detail. The rooms of her prose and connectedness to the great minds of 20th Century theorists and the early Enlightenment, 17th-century rationalists hunted and scorned by church and body politic alike for questioning the composition and very existence of their God.

What brilliant yet challenging rooms they are, in the prose of Thien.

Spinoza’s rooms, for certain. And Martin Heidegger’s. And the adjoining and more intricately appointed rooms of the mind of his acolyte and lover, Hannah Arendt. Philosophers all who wove brilliant thoughts, existential transports, with universe-spanning concepts that transcended time, space, and dimension. Continue reading

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