After just a few days at home--enough time to taste a new scotch with friends (Johnnie Walker "Swing," a round-bottomed bottle designed to stay upright on ships at sea), hug a cherry-blossom tree, and host the last meeting of my TWC spring workshop on "The Strategic Poet"--I am off again. My house really needs cleaning, but it'll have to wait.
I'm heading down into Virginia today so I can get an early jump on Thursday's Sweet Briar Creative Writing Conference, which will start with a classroom visit and end with an 8 PM PM with John Casteen. Fingers crossed I have time to pop in at VCCA, just to say hello to whoever is around; I bet it is lovely in spring (I always go in January). From Thursday night's reading I hustle the 3-hour drive up to National for a 7:30 AM flight to St. Louis, so I can make my way to SIU Carbondale for the Little Grassy Literary Festival, where I'll be joining a panel with Matt Guenette, Joe Meno, and Rick Bass on the writing life, to be followed by a reading of my own.
It's not my ideal to Frankenstein two conferences--I'd rather attend each in their entirety, and really sink into the ideas being discussed--but this is the nature of April: trying to be in two places at once.
I get to take part in a different kind of conversation, moving out of the auditorium and onto the page, in the new Spring 2011 issue of Tidal Basin Review. It's called "The Black Issue," but I suppose I get a free pass as a DC poet. Thomas Sayers Ellis is well known as the author of The Maverick Room and Skin, Inc., but not everyone knows he is an amazing photographer as well (that's his shot on the cover, "Swing Youngin'"). I was one of a group of writers--including Nikki Finney, Afaa Michael Weaver, Nathalie Handal, and Aracelis Girmay--to submit a question to him in response to his portfolio of images, a kind of round-robin review. His answers are provocative, revealing, and articulate: typical TSE. Check it out, either via their online version or by purchasing the print issue for $20. I think the latter would be worth it; some of the photographs are in color, and all are hi-res. It'll end up being a collector's item.