Meet the Poet Car. This is my new Kia Soul. In a recent email exchange with Kelli Agodon she has asked if I got my new car. Upon telling her that I had, and that I got a KIA SOUL, she responded... "Can I say--I cannot imagine what a better car for a poet than a SOUL!!!---I hope you write about that." The challenge is there, so I must get busy.
We have had a terrible cold spell here and snow. The snow has not exactly been that problematic, but the stretch of over a week with sub freezing days, several sub zero, have compounded the pandemic doldrums here.
I have started receiving the first of several pre-ordered books. The number of new titles by poets I adore is unreal. Sandra Beasley's Made To Explode has arrived . Also ordered are Kelli Agodon's Dialogues with Rising Tides, and Jennifer Moore's Easy Does It. Then there will likely be more as a result of AWP 21.
Moving into March brings us to the AWP Conference. The one that was supposed to be in Kansas City (he says bitterly) but instead will be virtual. No AWP HUGS, No AWP SWAG.... trying to remain optimistic but it isn't easy. There are some presentations that look really good, but the atmosphere of sitting at home for this is not exactly alluring. I want to be able to interact with friends and meet new ones.
If anyone sees me virtually at AWP - be sure and say hi!
Currently I am reading Floating True by Deborah Jung. Deborah was a Writer to Writer alumni the same time I was (2017). This is her first book and it is a perfect read for the uncertain times we are trapped in. There is a centering to it. A generational span of love and memory through life that is not always so kind.
I came into the new year feeling especially ready for it. The way things are in the world & our current government, one has to hope this year brings a lot of change and I pray for the better.
New years day I attended a yoga - meditation - plan for the new year workshop. You can read more about it here. I'm trying to map out my writing projects for the year so that I have some accountability for them. Today I did a free write , I have some reading to do.
On the up and coming, I have a new poem coming out some time this month. I have other work out for consideration and I hope to get some more out tomorrow.
Looking forward - albeit with the standard trepidation, to AWP20 in San Antonio, early March. The conference I enjoy, the travel to a new place - accommodations, etc. These are anxiety traps I get caught in and struggle like I'm smack dab in the middle of a spider web.
Portland is weird. That's what they kept telling us. On signs, On bumper stickers, and there actually is something weird about about being told over and over without asking. It's kind of like Donald Trump saying one of the many things her repeats emphatically without any foundation and no one asked. It makes you a little specious.
I believe I brought home a cold from Portland. I have suffered through an upper respiratory thing that kept reoccurring in January and February. This feels just like it did and I am going to blame it on being among some 13,000 to 14,000 writers, or other miscellaneous people I came in contact with. It's the runny nose, drainage, cough crap that hates me and I hate it. I will not consider this among the SWAG that I brought home.
I have chiropractor tonight and I am going to stop there on the way home before urgent care.
I feel like I have a lot more to say about Portland, but I will save it for later. I'm back, I'm alive, I'm sick.
AWP 18 in Tampa is History. The thing about AWP is there are always expectation, there is always too little time, there are people you are excited to see, and people your are disappointed that did not come or who did and you were unable to meet up with, bones & muscles that ache and moments of serendipity.
I went with a lame knee tat ad been swollen and painful beyond imagination on the Friday before I left Wednesday morning. Monday, I saw my Doctor and she gave me a cortisone shot and a blister pack of steroids to take daily in decreasing order. I survived and per my fitness band, recorded 35,990 steps over the four days. They were not pain free, but tolerable.
When it comes to counting memories, I don't think I will be able to erase the steps, but there will be others that will be good ones.
As for serendipity, the keynote address by George Saunders comes to mind. I was not planning to go to it. It followed a Writers to Writers reception and a last minute decision to go was made and I accompanied one of the mentee alumni from my mentee class to the event and it was both enlightening and humorous. I picked up is novel Lincoln in the Bardo.
I ran into Maryfrances Wagner (from my home town). There was Mary Biddinger from Akron Press (were poetry not only lives but thrives), Diane Zinna who is director of the Writers to Writers program, and Ken Waldman, my mentor. Ken and I did an hour at the W2W booth answering questions from persons interested in the program. I purposely attended an off site reading just to ear Shaindel Beers read,
There were people who I felt like I knew, but actually met for the first time - All three of these are poets I adore - Heather Derr-Smith (we tried to meet up last year in DC but it didn't work), Maggie Smith, who signed her book Good Bones, which I read to my mother on her deathbed, and Rachel Mennies, who is writing some of the most powerful poetry these days. She also happens to be the mommy of a Twitter famous dog (at least among poets and writers).
There were too many to name at the Writer to Writer Reception, but I was able to meet up with Michelle McAdams and Erin Robertson from my mentee session.
Best panel I attended was on Writing Confessional Poetry. Rachel Mennies, Maggie Smith, Jericho Brown, and someone else whose name escapes me were the panel. Honest to God, Brown is crazy funny. I have not seen him in a long time, I recall him being funny, but not to this degree.
As usual the swag was fun. Some of it is Pictured at the top.
Oh, and there was my Sylvia Plath moment.....
April came and went as it does every year. This year I successfully completed a poem draft a day, the result of which is a handful of poems from the 30 written may actually see the light of day. These of course are still mostly in a draft form some have been reworked already. This will hopefully give me some badly needed new material to submit
May is the conclusion of the Writer 2 Writer - 6 module program. It is time to make the best of what I have been able to learn from Ken Waldman, my mentor and the 24 other wonderful mentees that are a part of the Spring 2017 program. In the near future you will hear more about this wonderful program from me.
So today begins the Spring Session of the AWP Writer 2 Writer program. There were nearly 400 applications for this session and a total of 25 mentors and mentees were matched for the program. I was fortunate to be one of those 25. It took applying to 6 sessions so I suppose 6 was my magic number.
I've been paired with poet and musician Ken Waldman who has done this once before. What I've already learned about Ken is that he is all energy. He travels a lot and is non-stop about his art which includes poetry and music. He's not into social media but makes hundreds of contacts the old fashioned way. Person to person.
The program is broken into 6 modules and the start of this first module has me pondering the following questions,
There are also some recommended activities to in and a chance to do some short or long term goal planning for my writing.
Looking forward to learning from Ken.
Michael Allyn Wells - notes & musings