Sunday, February 26, 2012

Chi-town (although I like coffee)

I'm planning on going to the AWP Conference this year. I'm only going Thursday through Saturday (March 1st through 3rd), so already I'll be missing some fabulous stuff. But the truth is that there's so much going on at the conference that it can be overwhelming. In terms of sheer numbers, the amount of attendee bodies alone seems preposterous. Registration was closed this year (for the first time) at 10,000.

I just had a conversation with someone who has never gone before. We were talking about networking which I know I should always do, but somehow have not the faintest idea of how to accomplish. Ask me to write a sonnet, and I won't want to, but I know how. Tell me to find out what's wrong with a poem and I can sift through and put a finger on it (or several/them). Maybe if I wrote a poem about networking, I would discover how to do it.

What I like to do is go to panels about poetry to find out new stuff. One year, the name Harryette Mullen was mentioned everywhere and that's how I came to her work. Another time, people got excited and vociferous (audience members) in a panel discussing form versus free verse. I also like to wander around the book fair and look at presses and anthologies and books of poetry and books of thinking about poetry. Readings are good, too--those who have arrived, the old warhorses of valor, in the evenings, and the energetic new at all the off-sites.

If you find yourself wandering the book fair on Friday, March 2nd, between 3 and 4, you will find me at the BkMk table (C1-C2) doing a book signing of Lake Erie Blue. And if you stop and say hello, I'll imagine I'm networking successfully!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lighter than Air (momentarily)

Sunday I finished judging a contest of 500 or so poems. Talk about feeling light, the pressure being off, any number of other remarks that equal relief. There was the relief from the task--done. But also the relief from confrontation, from facing up to each poem with its murky wonder and fabulous hubris and sheltered flaws. Lifting cloud-like into the afternoon sky.

Last fall, I sat with three other poets zipping through a stack of poems. It was pretty awe-inspiring that mostly the same poems (although in different orders) plucked at our attention, making it into the last 20.

In my most recent Judgment Day, I was pleased that unconsciously, I had chosen a range of styles and gestures, interested, too, in how many things can light up the brain with pleasure like a mini-thunderstorm flashing up there. So much good work.

Now I hope to return to Blackbird, my manuscript (Get Sorrow Out, If That's What That Blackbird Is) and fool around with this idea I have for a poem about a wind turbine like a heavy metal sunflower.