Stuck working in the office on the 4th of July. But that's the nature of the beast as far as working in the vacation industry. It's not all bad, last night I experienced my first West Virginia Independence Day celebration. It was everything I dreamed it would be: firefighters in sumo suits, young children riding around on novelty over-sized tricycles, funnel cake. I sat in a truck-bed and watched explosions in the sky (no, not them). There were cans of beer, roman candles, and national anthems (oh yes, we sang both the star spangled banner and America, The Beautiful). It was, indeed, anthemic.
Never got a chance to comment on my reading at Joaquin Miller Cabin in DC. It was certainly a night to be remembered. My host for the weekend and I started things off by getting stuck in traffic on Connecticut St., then getting lost in Rock Creek Park trying to find the reading site. I ended up arriving about 15 minutes after the reading was supposed to start, feeling very frazzled and embarassed (I hate being late, I hate, hate, hate it). The first reader, Melanie Henderson, really blew me away with the tautness of her poems. It was great to read alongside her as it seems as though we're both doing very different things with our work, but that's one of the things I love most about poetry readings/get-togethers/conferences: how aesthetic takes a backseat to passion for craft. It's really heartening to see a group of people, any group of people, come together and talk about poetry, or listen to poetry, or even acknowledge poetry's existence (something I'm more aware of living in a tent in the West Virginia woods). So then I read. About 4 poems in, I heard the branches above us start to rustle. It sounded like someone was tearing apart reams of paper one sheet at a time. We had about 3 seconds of recognition before the rain came down. Typhoon rain. Monsoon rain. Big, big rain. At that point, we ran for it. I grabbed the podium (A poor umbrella, a great lightning rod, as Deborah Ager pointed out) and made a bee-line for a nearby pavilion. Long story short: we finished up the reading at the reception site, all of us more or less drenched. Certainly the most exciting reading I've ever been a part of; many thanks to Kathi, Deborah, Rosemary, and Karren for organizing such a great series. And thanks, too, to everyone who came out.
Killer opening line of the now:
"The room is dark and is all your body."
from "The Dream of Food" by Reynolds Price
(Vital Provisions, Atheneum, 1982)
They've released the list of scholars and fellows for Sewanee. I'm starting to get excited/nervous for the Conference as it's only a little over a week away and I'm not completely sure what I'm getting myself into, but I was happy to meet Deborah Ager at the DC reading as it means there will be at least one familiar face in the crowd. Still haven't found out what workshop I'm in, who else is in it, etc., but I'm looking forward to meeting/reading some new folks. There are a lot of names there I've heard in the wind, so it will be nice to attach actual people to those names.
I met a firefighter yesterday. He told me that ever since he's buzzed his hair short, sweat beads on the top of his head. He said that when he's in a fire the boiling sweat feels like a swarm of bees stinging him. This is compelling, I think.