Having a good time in Austin. The conference is jam-packed. Impossible to see everything or everyone one wants to see. Dean and I went to the "Writing for your Health" panel in the morning after breakfast. It was a good one for Dean as it discussed writing therapy, and the research and practical application (Dean's a psychotherapist, and ate it up). Also went to the "Maintaining Your Buzz" panel led by Michael Weigers and including the editors from Alice James, Ugly Duckling, and Wave Press. It was fascinating to hear them talk about different ways poets and publishers can work together to get a book out into the world. Apparently Wave Press is going to be doing a nation-wide Potery Bus Tour, where their authors, and others, will be reading in 48 states in 50 days, or something like that. My oh my.
The Poetry and Medicine panel went really well. Dean and I ran into Greg Orr getting a coffee beforehand, and were able to sit down and chat for a few minutes at the Java Jive, which helped take away the jitters. Rachel Rose began by telling how her mother was a doctor in rural Canada, and how she once helped her to a delivery when she was about 5 years old, holding the tub as the placenta plopped out, while her mother was resuscitating the infant. I did a my speil, including comments about pity vs. sympathy vs. empathy, poetry as survival, and poetry as witness. Marylyn Krysl read about her work with nurses and Mother Teresa. C Dale read some terrific new poems and spoke eloquently about how patients are not "material for a work of art" as WCW said, but that each patient "Was a work of art." And Ann Caston, a former pediatric flight nurse in the rural south, read some terrific poems, one about a syphilitic child born dead, that was just riveting. The audience was really good and asked great questions afterward.
We went out for a drink and chat later. It was so fun to meet everybody! I think our panel rocked. Thanks again Rachel for putting it all together.
Dean and I had to escape and relax in our room for a bit. It's really fun to meet people, but it is just so crowded and loud sometimes, it's a bit overwhelming. So it was a delight when Scott Hightower called and he and his partner Jose took us out for a drive around the sites of Austin, including the bridge with the bats, and the public swimming hole, and U of T, and some of the funky neighborhoods. Had a very pleasant dinner out at Judges Hill. They are really sweet guys. And it was nice of them to rescue us from AWP overload for a while. Ahhh . . .
Not sure what panels we are going to today, except that I know I will be reading for Prairie Schooner at 1:30. I think I am going to read all new stuff from the next book -- we'll see.