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.
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.....
Residency with the Dogs
Right now there is an underlying roll of thunder that continues to repeat itself accompanied by a steady downpour. Meaning no disrespect to those struggling in the flood waters from Hurricane Harvey, what is happening here is rather tranquil.
I am dog sitting for my son and when I do this for any extended period of time, I generally utilize it as though it were a mini writing residence. I read and I write and do some research (writing related) talking out loud to myself (often referred in the mental health field as responding to internal stimuli) as I read drafts, poems by other people or just think aloud. The dogs have not called the crisis line to have me picked up so all is good.
Another thing that I am doing is reading poems written as part of a workshop group of some alumni of the Spring 2017 Writer to Writer mentoring program sponsored by AWP. This is not a function of the program specifically but rather something one of the mentees from our program put together for fellow mentees who wished to participate. Once a W2W person, always a W2W person.
So, no TV, no (or minimal distractions) as I still have social media and sell phone. My wife has called upon me to do an errand or two, but for the most part, take care of the dogs and focus writing/related matters. Probably will work in a couple of submissions. This means I am somewhat less informed on the news. I have looked at a few news popups on my laptop or phone. I mean if President Trump were to resign or impeachment proceedings begin, I would have to know so I could go get a bottle of win and celebrate. Until them, you know what I'm doing...
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.
Saturday evening and I'm resting my tired legs from 4 days of AWP Conference in Washington D.C. Tomorrow, it's back home with new reading material as well as tons of information to process.
Additionally, I was accepted into the AWP Writer 2 Writer Mentoring Program. Above I am standing with Diane Zinna who directs the innovative program that has to be one of the most exciting member services available.
I am matched with a mentor Ken Waldman for the Spring session. There are two sessions each year - and so far about 200 writers have been through the program. I applied for the program 6 different sessions and finally was matched.
On the final day I was able to meet Shaindel Beers, author of two poetry collections and one of my favorite poets. After reading both her books and interacting with her for several years no on social media it was cool to connect.
One of the most fascinating panels I attended was the Manifesto Project. I also picked up a copy of the Manifesto Project published by Akron University Press. I'm sure I will have more to say about this work in the near future.
Michael Allyn Wells - notes & musings