Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, Florida

Road Trip 2015

I’m fat with poetry.

Atlantic Center for the Arts, New Smyrna Beach, Florida: five days of workshops with Carolyn  Forché’ readings by Carolyn, Nick Flynn, and Benjamin Percy at night; meals all together sitting at small enough round tables; participants from all over the US, and one (dear friend!) from The Netherlands; a conference with editor Jeffrey Shotts from Graywolf Press about my poems, which he’d read before our conference, which he’d made notes on in green ink,in which he’d found no clunkers, about which he worried over my penchant for narrative and encouraged a liberal smattering of lyricism if at all possible in the final project to counter my propensity for density, and during which he referred to my “chops,” “high level of writing,” and gave me certain invaluable keys which may well unlock doors I’d bolted for no good reason (see me gliding from his table in the library to Carolyn’s in the music studio. See me glowing.)

Carolyn Forché is:

a Sherpa guiding her students up, over, across, through

generous, incredibly generous

funny, relaxed, beautiful

knows writing, writers, tips, pitfalls and
willingly, easily, clearly shares all this

respectful, incredibly respectful

an enthusiastic, intuitive, organized, interested teacher who teaches much more than poetry (although teaching poetry well is a big fucking deal)

humble, even after a lifetime of being at the top of her game.

worth every penny any of us spent getting to  the ACA to attend to her and receive her attention to us.

I’m home again with my brother, our three inside cats, four outside cats, and Blossom the dog, who outdid herself this time in her welcome performance. Every time I look at our giant Applehead Siamese, Sam, I find him staring at me as if he would pin me to the house, never to leave it again. My suitcases have yellow elephants on them and the elephants like to go, but Drago has put them back up in the attic; they’ll have to be patient. For five years now I’ve started the new year with a writer’s workshop. It’s my vacation of choice and I appreciate that I’ve been a lucky duck to be able to do these trips. A hermit of sorts, I’ve loved my busy weeks of meeting new people, participants and guides, listening to polished work from astonishing voices, chatting amiably around tables with men and women who choose to be students for a week in the midst of their full-flung lives, and the peaceful road trips I’ve had driving through back roads and small towns. Here’s a bit of contemplating my navel for you: I kick back, daydream, relax, wake-up, pull from within, push myself out there.

“may came home with a smooth round stone
as small as a world and as large as alone.” 
E.E. Cummings

“What you’ve done becomes the judge of what you’re going to do – especially in other people’s minds. When you’re traveling, you are what you are right there and then. People don’t have your past to hold against you. No yesterdays on the road.” – William Least Heat Moon