I've committed this year to National Poetry Writing Month 2018. This means I will be writing a poem draft a day. These will be posted on a private group site on Facebook for others participating to see, but not the general public. Some of these drafts could be reworked and reach a point they are worthy of submission and because they have not been out in the public view, they will be considered unpublished and therefore available to journals/Reviews, etc.
I finished my April 1st yesterday and am working on April 2nd today.
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.....
Sometimes I have to pinch myself and be reminded it is January 2018. How is it that America seems to find a way to go backwards instead of advance? The recent battle over protecting DACA recipients, a crisis of President Trump's own making became weighted down with ugly language in recent weeks.
With time running out to give protected status these young people, Trump recently backtracked on earlier support for dealing with the issue as Congress worked to do it alongside a continuing resolution to keep the government budgeted. What he had been referring to as dreamers suddenly became illegals. Couple that with his hateful remarks about persons coming from Haiti and a host of African nations became people from shithole countries and persons from say, Norway would be preferable to let into this nation.
Words have consequences. We are a witness to some terrible times. We are shaped by the times we live in and it is clear that these are not normal times. They are not times of reason. They are not times of love and compassion. As much as I would love to forget about the ugliness that is so prolific right now, I can't, or should't. Nor should you. It is at times like these writers of all types, are called to witness what is happening all around us. We must no allow such times as these come to define us. Come to be normalized. We need to call out the ugliness and hate. We need to be a better nation, and we each have a responsibility to speak up.
I'm presently reading a delicious book written by the Palestinian poet Shatha Abu Hnaish titled A Love That Hovers Like a Bedeviling Mosquito, translated by Francesca Bell and Noor Asder Al A'bed.
These poems are short and awash with a voice that is packed with image & emotion. Translating these poems into English so that more are touched by them is an enormous literary gift.
After the first reading, this is a great night stand book for when you have five or ten minutes to read and meditate before lights out.
Just a few notes to pass on to readers...
Hand any good suggestions of Places accepting submissions currently? Let me know. Thanks!
Michael Allyn Wells - notes & musings