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:
I've forgotten how many days I've been sheltering at home, social distancing, or whatever the hell I am doing. What I haven't forgotten is the feeling of walls closing in. Of the deep worry that clings to my stomach for the safety of my family and loved ones. I try not to dwell on the Covad19 statistics that are changing daily. I look at them from time to but i find it difficult to process in my mind that these are not numbers, but people. It's devastating.
We are coming through a period of the year that usually brings me down. SAD or seasonal affective disorder usually leaves somewhere between melancholy and out and out depressed. Baseball season should be starting and it usually ushers in a happier springtime and pushes the blues out of the way. But there is no baseball season and we don't know if MLB will play one at all this year. I'm looking for any positive sign of relief from the drudgery of the Covad19 daily sheltering from the world.
As crestfallen as I have been today, I did receive news of a poetry acceptance this afternoon. It cheered my up a bit, but these times we are going through cannot be erased by a whole trove of accepted poetry submissions. A part of me says poetry is so insignificant in light of a pandemic. On the other hand, it is the humanity of us all that is at risk, and poetry, music, literature and the arts is the sign of hope that we so greatly need.
It seems like it is all around us. Mostly on the two coasts, but closing in. I'm a believer. There are deniers and some not sure.
I'm trying to do all the precautions and isolate within reason, but as the numbers increase what is reason? My work is reducing the numbers in our office by rotating employees that will work from home so each of us will be in the office some times and home at others.
Disinfecting wipes are my friend, but it seems I am shedding friends at an alarming rate and there seems few if any places to find more available.
I want to stay out of stores as much as possible and I do a pretty good job of this but there are things that you suddenly realize you are out of, like shampoo. Or you need to make a trip to the pharmacy.
Writing is essentially an act of solitude in itself, but you can get up and stretch your legs and go some place to clear your head. My daily step count is way down. Mid-day and I'm under 1100 so far today. That's a sign of just how sedentary this has made me.
I found myself watching the TV series Homeland on Hulu. By watching, I mean binge watching for periods of time in the evening. This stimulates my mind a bit which is good but takes time away from writing which is not good. In the last 24 hours I have become increasingly aware of the opportunities this pandemic affords any writer, and that is to give witness to these times. This is good fodder for poetry, essay. fiction, you name it. So I will be looking for ways today, and moving forward, to make this connection with my writing.
In the meantime, I urge others, writers or not, to make good decisions among the choices afforded to us, so that we may remain safe. All of us!
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.
Michael Allyn Wells - notes & musings