Sunday, June 12, 2011

West Chester Poetry Conference

Here I am, dusting off the cobwebs of this old blog again! I tend to wait till I have significant news, so here it is. I attended the 17th annual West Chester Poetry Conference at West Chester University in PA, about an hour drive from my home. The conference, whose focus is on formal and metrical poetry, ran from Wednesday June 8 through Saturday, June 11, and included three-day workshops plus readings, seminars, panel discussions, social events, and more. Robert Pinsky gave a keynote speech and reading Wednesday night, and he stuck around Thursday for a "town hall" conversation and Q&A. Richard Wilbur was also in attendance, and the conference offered a tribute and 90th birthday party for him. The workshops were led by such poets as Dana Gioia (co-founder of the conference), Kim Addonizio, Molly Peacock, Timothy Steele, David Mason, Dick Davis, A.E. Stallings, Alison Joseph, and others. I also met some up-and-coming, talented young poets like Amit Majmudar, Andrew Sofer, and Annabelle Moseley. My friend Anna Evans was also involved as a faculty member, moderator and presenter, in her roles as editor of the Raintown Review and member of Mezzo Cammin Women Poets Timeline Project.

I took Molly Peacock's "master class" on the villanelle, and it was excellent - about ten of us were in the workshop discussing the form, reading examples, and writing and reading our own work. We also each got a half-hour one-on-one session with Molly, and I'm pleased to say she loved my work and offered good constructive critique. I wrote two pretty good villanelles, one of which got a very positive response both in class an at the participants' open reading later that day. Although this conference had more of an academic feel to it than the Palm Beach Festival I attended earlier this year, I think I held my own pretty well.

If you're a poet or other type of writer and haven't been to a conference, you need to get to one posthaste. They are a golden opportunity to work with renowned writers, meet and befriend other writers, network with publishers and editors (and sometimes agents), and immerse yourself in the writing world for a few days. Oh, and let's not forget all the "freebies", from pens and blank journals to books and periodicals. It's an experience not to be missed.

In other poetry news, I'm anxiously awaiting the release of the July/August issue of Writers Digest, which will contain my sonnet "Two Writers" in Robert Brewer's poetry column. I also got an ineresting e-mail from the editor of the print journal The Lyric about a week ago: She was cleaning up her desk and discovered a letter from two years ago that she had never sent to me, accepting my sonnet "Doldrums", but asking for a minor editorial change. She assumed my lack of response was due to not accepting the suggestion, and forgot about the poem until recently when she found the letter. She asked if the poem was still available. Why yes, I said, so it will appear in an upcoming issue.

Also, I will be the featured reader at Poetry in the Round, Barnes and Noble Bookstore, Rte. 70 in Marlton NJ, on Monday June 20 at 7:30 p.m.

Oh, yes, and an update from way back in April: I did finish the Poem-a-Day Challenge on Robert Brewer's Poetic Asides blog, cranking out 36 poems in 30 days. Here's one of them:

Maybe This is All Just a Dream

and I'll wake to find
Bobby Ewing in the shower
or Emily Hartley in my bed.

I'll return from my trip to Oz
with a bump on my head
from the twister, and Auntie Em,
family and friends at my bedside.

Maybe I'm a bit player in the daydream
of some autistic kid with a snow globe
of a hospital in his hand.

Or maybe I'm one of those folks
working on an inception,
and then I'll wake up,
and then I'll wake up,
and then I'll wake up,
and then I'll wake up.