AWP 21 has come and gone. It will likely be remembered as the Pandemic Conference. The conference that was to be in Kansas City, Missouri, and for me it was, but not in the way I had hoped or wanted. I did the conference from my living room on my laptop virtually. I would like to tell you it sucked, but it didn't. I would tell you it was great, but that too would be incorrect.
In the end, I benefited from it. It was cheap with no hotel or air flights. No meals out. No Uber rides to off site location.
It was in some respects a lonely event. It was harder to connect directly with friends and meet new people, although I was able on a very small scell to do so. There was no swag. There were no hugs. I did enjoy some readings and a couple of the panels i felt were very beneficial to me. There were quite a few instances where my mind seemed to be challenged in my thoughts about literature in various genre, not just my own. I also feel the conference suggested to me that I should try to move beyond to poetry in some ways. Memoir and essay most came to mind. But these thoughts were more like giving me permission to try, to explore a bit, not driving me to abandon poetry or even implying that I should follow such efforts seriously. I
I of course ordered books and they have started to trickle in. I missed not bring a suitcase full of new books home and promptly unpacking them and exploring them right away.
So far I have received the following:
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!
Poetry Submissions off and it's not even 1 p.m. yet. Time yet to read and write for the day.
Presently I am reading The Silent Woman by Janet Malcolm. Biographical work on Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes. I've read so many bios on the two. Malcolm pretty much trashes Anne Stevenson's Bitter Fame. Stevenson just passed away Friday or Saturday. I'm not far into Malcolm's book to provide a critical assessment. I'd say I am open minded, but slightly critical of some of her commentary, but I'm hopeful she will provide more substance to support her statements. Stay tuned.
July and early August have been hectic to say the least. My writing has been causality of my August 4th election win for a Democrat County Committee seat. I served in that capacity for 14 years in the past as well as Chairman of the county Party. It was a lot of work - a lot of very hot days and evenings, but it was successful. Winning with 61.26% of the vote.
I have managed to finish reading Blood Sisters, a collection of poetry by Jenifer DeBellis. I recommend it. Gave it 4 stars on GoodReads.
Have a zoom reading tonight at 6 p.m. Central time. There is a link on my events page.
I'm currently reading Diane Zinna fist novel. It arrived at my home on Tuesday and this is a somewhat busy and stressful time as we are coming up on the August Democratic Primary Tuesday the 4th.
I'm so proud of Diane - I can tell this. has been a labor and while I suspect in many respects it is one of love, something like this doesn't come without stress tears, and much sacrifice.
I met Diane through AWP, and she is like a household to members because of her dedication to the Writer to Writer mentorship program.
When I have finished to book I'll tell you more about it, but without spoilers.
The climate in the country now is depressing. The Cavid-19 pandemic, the tragic death of George Floyd and other recent police shootings cast a long shadow over the summer adear.
I only see the pandemic getting worse. People are not doing wee at face masks and social distancing. The large number of protesters is likely to kickstart the flair up again, but even around town I see many ignoring the precautions.
As to the protests - they have become pretty universal across the major cities and it is disappointing to see the carnage from the rioting. I take his family at their word when they say that George would not want to see his city torn up. There is a feeling by many that are are some agitators who have stirred up trouble - setting fires while the majority are peaceful.
It is indeed a sad time for America. We need leadership and we are not only not getting leadership, but we are getting agitation that only makes matters worse. I pray that this ends soon and we have leadership again in Washington that we can depend on. This nation needs to heal
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.
Michael Allyn Wells - notes & musings