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.
“We have conversations most nights, Sylvia Plath and me!”
― Avijeet Das
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.
Two very thoughtful gifts from my wife, Cathy. I now have both volumes of the Letters of Sylvia Plath.
Going into the holiday was kind of rocky as I was ill between Thursday and basically Sunday and part of Monday. My eyes hurt too much to even read so I felt like those were days of waste. But, I'm back and ready to meet life head on.
This July we made a short trip to Chicago. Focus was on Lake Michigan and the beaches. My granddaughter wanted to go see what a beach was all about. She's nearly four and she would come over and play in the back yard occasionally in areas where the grass was sparse or non-existent. This would become her beach. Oh, the imagination of children.
It was also an opportunity to take myself out of the normal routine, open my minds and I admit I did some writing but this past month was a period of struggle for my writing. I had to discipline myself to write even if it wasn't for publication. Even if what was coming out left something to be desired. So, I wrote in spite of everything.
We had some rain and overcast skies part of the time, but regardless, the sky and water all came together at a seam in the distance and this expanse did give rise to a number of ideas for projects going forward.
I can't exactly say that I returned refreshed and relaxed, but I came back transformed in some capacity. I'm still to define in my own mind how that is, a week later.
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.....
It’s really October. It’s so hard to believe that we are starting the last quarter of the year 2017. How did this happen? I know we are there because besides the calendar the baseball season is moving into fall ball and then after the World Series, the baseball blues will be in full swing. Already I feel them tugging like a tide going back to sea, pulling a blanket back off the shoreline, exposing the beach.
This week I will be fortunate enough to begin a mentoring period with a three-time Pushcart Prize nominee and author of 4 books. The objective is fearless and impactful poetry on my part. It sounds lofty I know, but I believe the right help is on the way.
These times are quite raw. The devastation of hurricanes, people’s lives upended and cast in uncertainty. Last night, a mass shooting in Vegas with at least 58 dead and those injured numbering 515 persons, the largest mass shooting of modern times in our country. The question is sometime asked, “Who needs poetry?” At times like these the answer is a simple, “We do!”
When we don’t have answers to life challenges, both good and bad, sometimes we just need to ask the right questions. Poetry can help us process these things. It may not solve them, but helps us find perspective.
Michael Allyn Wells - notes & musings