April 17, 2010

Are You There, God? It's Me, Sandra.

I'm not going to offer excuses. I will simply say that to go ten--10!--days without visiting my blog gives me no pleasure. There was Denver, for AWP; then New York, for the big fancy Barnard reading with Joy Harjo; then Pittsburgh, for a laugh-laden reading with Jason Koo; and tomorrow morning, New York again, for a Sunday afternoon reading with Dora Malech at the Four-faced Liar's Frequency Series.

What can I do to make it up to you? Even though I've missed the tide...I figure I can offer up a handful of (somewhat redacted) AWP moments. Here are the most memorable:

-Hearing the panel moderator at the "365 Rides Again!" program intone the following during the Q&A portion--quite seriously, for the benefit of the rest of the room that had not heard a front-row comment on collaboration...."I do it with dancers." Don't we all.

-Very great poets, touring the conference with very fake mannequins on their hips. 

-Michael Chabon, talking about the ubiquity of ideas. Ideas? Easy. Writing the ideas? Hard. 

-Chile-pepper beer and pork barbeque at the Wynkoop Brewing Co. This is memorable because it was my last restaurant meal in Denver, and it took place way back on Tuesday. When you're going on day four of living off bananas and peanut-butter pretzels in order to save money, BBQ starts looking pretty divine in hindsight. 

-Having the host get up on the mic midway through my set at the Typewriter Girls' Mercury Cafe show and announce "Shut the fuck UP! This poet is reading!" With my long-lost uncle, who had driven 45 minutes to hear me, in the audience. And later, being asked to kindly hide my flask after my reading at said cafe. Fair enough, but you know what? If you're not going to calm it down for my reading, I'm not going to shell out $14 for your off-flavor Macallan's.

-Receiving a heads-up from a previous Summer Poet in Residence that there might be some minor issues with the Lawrence House. Like flying creatures. And iffy plumbing. Or later, via the cumulative vision of a hotel bar table: "What if it's bats in sewage?"

-A now-beloved W. W. Norton staffer nearly taking out one of my eyes while popping the cork on a bottle of wine I'd brought for my Saturday booksigning. The cork went sailing over the divider into an adjacent stretch of tables; I'm sorry, whoever it nailed. I opened the other two bottles myself--and sold out all the copies Norton had shipped to the conference. See, what is accomplished when you bribe people?

-Having a very brief but friendly, professional discussion with a Southern poet who reads my blog at the WILLA reading. Then both of us confronting the ass crack of the burlesque dancer less than four feet in front of us. Also, things you don't ever want to hear from a poet performing faux-stripper moves: "Crap! I need my glasses to read this!"

-Walking around for an hour with my Barrelhouse t-shirt on that declares "My poem/story/essay was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt." Realizing that the juxtaposition of the overly thick nametag strap meant people were working WAY too hard to read my chest. We're talking stares and tilted heads. 

-Bumping into a fellow po-blogger and admitting 1) I am a big fan of his work, and 2) I am still terribly embarrassed by an incident, five years back, in which a simultaneously submitted poem had to be withdrawn and handed off to another journal versus his far-superior journal, which had accepted it....just 23 hours too late. His reply? "See, I had just been thinking of you only as a talented poet. But now that you've reminded me of this? Bee-yotch [--flashes a hand gesture--] you're going doooowwwwwnnnn!"

Ah, sweet sweet AWP.

One thing that I loved about the happenings was the chance to meet with fellow She Writes folks at an offsite happy hour event. Cynthia Morris, who has written many books about the writing process, used her time in Denver to capture a series of clips of writers talking about Why They Write. Somehow I got swept up in the tide--and make a brief cameo appearance in the video below. Enjoy!


newzoopoet said...

Thoroughly amusing post, Sandra!

童紫勳 said...


Matthew Thorburn said...

It was great to keep running into you in New York, SB. Hope to see you again soon.

Jessie Carty said...

looking forward to checking out the vid!

blue bike, red door said...

Hi Sandra! That was me at the WILLA reading. I mentioned our chat in my "AWP blog-recap," too. It made my night! And I told my students, too.

So great to meet you! Maybe I will see you again during your time in the South.