Voluptuous Conundrums, or, Day 1 Debrief
Yesterday, I went to more things than I even realized until I looked at my notes just now. A brief rundown:
- Raven Chronicles reading - Here is the lovely serendipity for the day. I came to this panel purely for the name. Donnelle and Seven - two friends from grad school - we're already there, and I discovered a lovely journal - a multicultural journal with themed issues published here in Seattle and featuring, from the panel's evidence some really smart and interesting writers. The title to this post is drawn from a poem by Carletta Carrington Wilson, who spoke.
- Hanging out with my friend Paula, who lives in Cleveland but we don't see each other enough so we get to see each other here. Lovely Paula, who is funny and generous as a writing friend, and who gave me the solid advice not to resist the lure of the crows and ravens and the story they are connected to just because I have another story I am "supposed" to be finishing now. "You never know," she said cocking her head and making a slightly screwball expression, "what that story might have to teach you about the book you are writing now," and added, "We don't get to steer the bus from the back seat."
- Panel on writing about music and musicians - Highly relevant to me, always. Last time I went to a panel like this I got turned on to Wesley Stace, whom I adore as a writer and a musician. This time I enjoyed A. Manette Ansay talking about her life as a serious pianist before becoming a writer and am stealing the concept of a story having a tonic key like a piece of music, a home that it rises from and returns to, changed, at the end. Also engaging on the panel was Constance Squires, whose work I am unfamiliar with, but her book Along the Watchtower, about a military kid coming of age at the end of the Cold War and the music that was a part of her life, is one I would like to read.
- Panel on assigning adventures to creative writing students to surprise them into new experiences in fresh writing. I like this panel a lot. It totally syncs with my teaching style and I plan to use their ideas.
- Panel on high school creative writing programs, full of useful ideas, but the panel was limited to people who teach specifically at schools of the arts, so it begged the idea that AWP needs to have a subsection for high school teachers of creative writing in general. Please note, I am not currently volunteering to organize this, which would be my bent.
- Panel on "Can You Grade a Poem?" The overwhelming answer, with one energetic dissenter, was, "No! ... but there are a lot of other things you can grade along the way." Again, useful.
Touching people I know but don't have the time to stop and talk to. Wide variet of fashion sense among the academically inclined writer set; lots of fab dresses on display. Exhaustion. I barely made it to see Annie Proulx give the keynote, and even then could barely stay awake. She was talking about the history of publishing and writing, and I think, but I can't be sure until I see a transcript, she was optimistic even in the face of these troubled times in publishing. I appreciated her "long view," historically locating the beginning of the current trends in the late 1980s, which satisfies me because that is precisely where I locate them. At the end she said something about elephants but I had missed the reference.
Then, I went back to my hotel and was, of course, wired, so I watched Portlandia and did some school work and planned day 2.
Dinner: Lunch was a thoroughly forgettable salad from a deli near the convention center. Dinner, back at hotel was terrific. I ordered the omakase (chef's choice) first course and ended up with an absolutely beautiful plate of Ahi sashimi and pickled onions. I supplemented that with a chicory and beet salad with blue cheese and hazelnuts.
Soundtrack: "Walking Around in Circles" by Soul Coughing should be the theme song of this convention center. The miles I have walked. Here, listen: http://youtu.be/rEFQTY4hjUk
Corvid Sightings: See above.
Random thing: The theme of the next issue of Raven Chronicles, I discovered this morning is "Personal Sound Tracks; Soundscapes; The Sound Track of Your Life." Dear reader, make sure I submit.