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FLEFF Intern Voices

The Finger Lakes Environmental Film Festival from the interns' point of view

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Posted by Gena Mangiaratti at 2:00AM

Blog post written by Gena Mangiaratti, Journalism ‘13, FLEFF Intern, Feeding Hills, Massachusetts

On Sunday I attended the first FLEFF event, the Checkpoint Reading at Buffalo Street Books, where three international writers read from their work and answered questions from the audience. The writers were essayist Catherine Taylor, who is an assistant professor of writing at Ithaca College, poet Irakli Kakabadze, and novelist Ernesto Quiñonez. The readings were all both powerful and socially conscious, while in a way reflected each writer’s life and background.

Afterwards, I had the chance to briefly speak one-on-one with Kakabadze, who kindly answered my questions about his reading.

Kakabadze is an exiled writer from the Republic of Georgia, where he was part of both the movement for liberation from Soviet rule and the Rose Revolution.

Before he began reading, he said his inspiration for this particular poem came from raising his son. Though he is only four years old, Kakabadze said that he is already thinking about how his son would write his résumé.

It was this question that led him to craft a poem about the “eensy weensy spider,” each line seeming to describe an attempt by the spider to find its way in the 21st century. Lines include, “The eensy weensy spider knew exactly when he should scream,” and “The eensy weensy spider used laptops and desktops.”

As Kakabadze spoke — first reciting the poem in Georgian, then in English — the motions and gestures of his hands and fingers almost resembled the legs of a climbing spider.

Though it was a lot to take in, his words pulled me and I found it impossible to look away. I asked him afterward what the lines of his poem meant, and why he chose to use the spider as his character.

He told me that the story of the spider in the nursery rhyme reminds him of the story of Sisyphus in Greek mythology, where the main character is rolling a boulder up a hill, but can never reach the top. The spider is similarly trying to reach the top of the waterspout, only to have the rain wash him down.

The poem he recited, in a way, describes the climb up the social/career ladder in the 21st century, but in the form of a lullaby that can be taught to children.

He said his son loves hearing the part about the “eensy weensy” spider, but he’s not sure if he currently understands the other stuff yet.

To learn more about Irakli Kakabadze, his work, and his activism, check out these great articles and interviews:

Irakli Kakabadze (Ithaca City of Aslyum)

Exiled writer, students explore nonviolence and the arts to resolve political conflict (Cornell Chronicle Online, April 13, 2010)

Interview: Irakli Kakabadze (MP3) (Writers at Cornell, September 5, 2008)

An Interview with Irakli Kakabadze (Icorn Featured Writers, September 2007)

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