Diana Khoi Nguyen

A centaur from the waist up.

Poet and human.

Greetings, from Blönduós!

It was an adventure/marathon getting here. Left Vermont with Lydia Conklin at 11am on Saturday. She dropped me off in Andover, where I took a train to Boston. Then took the metro to Boston's Logan Airport. 5-hour red-eye to Reykjavik. Then shuttle to bus terminal. Then 5 hour bus ride to my current beloved village in the north. I arrived at 2pm on Sunday.

In less than 2 days of being here, I have already learned how to use the amazing knitting machine and made some swatches--and extravagant plans to make so many things. Also got to do a house visit of a local ceramicist whose work is gorgeous. She even picks her own tea leaves from the fields and made that tea for me. Insane.

I'm in love with the Icelandic people, but not the poor grocery/food scene here in (this particular) village. The studio is right where the Blanda River meets the ocean, and I feel like I'm part of the soundtrack to Wuthering Heights. It's windy.

The other artists here (who leave too soon at the end of this month) are incredible and I'm trying to learn so much from them before they depart!

There's Moi Tran, who is like my only in that she is Vietnamese, but lives in London and has the most enviable of all accents. There's also Michelle Forsyth, who's been teaching me SO much about all things fiber arts, and Catherine Fairbanks (Cathy) who did these amazing naturally dyed machine knitted sheets--dyed with things found in the fields of this town.

I feel like it's Halloween/Christmas every day--this is surely already better than my time in Sweden AND Greece--and those two places were life/game-changing sojourns. I feel so lucky to be here.

Soon I'll post some videos/pictures of my living space / studios later this week as I'm in a lovely room now, but an even lovelier room come Wednesday.

Michelle taught me how to use the knitting machine and I hope to make wool leggings for myself and JB--as well as blankets! Scarves! And then naturally dip dye some of these items. Cathy learned to weave here and used pony hair as her weft! Apparently I can go across the street to the abattoir, ask the butcher for some ponytails and he will let you know when to come back, at which time he will hand over some frozen ponytails still attached to the horses' spine. Cathy said she would take the spine/ponytails to the river to wash then cut the hair before she wove with it. Insane. I can't wait to do this.

And there's a thrift store in town! And a library! And apparently lots of art supplies to be bought in one town north of here (will likely venture there next month).

There's not enough time to do all the art! And to travel/see Iceland!!!!! Must. Not. Sleep.

Oh! Did I mention? There's a geo-thermally heated pool here open year-round (complete with killer tubular winding slide) that I can get an unlimited monthly pass to! Win!

While I do miss my pack, I'm so busy that I don't feel sad! Soon exhaustion will hit, but not tonight.

Update on the goal list:

Bread Loaf Goals

  • x Don't get sick(er). [I didn't get less sick, unfortunately. Sick the whole time!]
  • x Attempt a sober BL [Sober, save one drink after my reading, which I regretted]
  • Take more walks [fail, took zero walks]
  • x Swim in the lake [it was FREEZING]
  • x Get to know more folks on staff + at the conference
  • x Eat less of the industrial food / stay low-glycemic/carb [yes and no--]
  • x Try to sleep
  • x Make new writer friends (for life) [I hope!]
  • Don't get tired [Failed]

Iceland Goals

  • make at least 1:
    • tapestry
    • woven thing on a loom with more than 4 harnesses
    • machine knitted leggings and scarves
    • felted wall hangings / bucket/bowls
  • produce new version of manuscript
  • read more than 3 books of prose
  • take a walk or swim or pilates every day
  • ride a pony!
  • herd sheep and ponies
  • visit as many natural pools as possible
  • witness aurora borealis