Thursday, June 23, 2011

Down Time and the Silk Road

Good evening! We meet again...

Today was mostly a free day. The faculty were working on student/advisor pairings for a fair amount of the afternoon, so after the morning talk and our workshops we were free. Technically, we were free as we wanted to be for the rest of the day. The faculty readings are optional to attend, and the only other event on the schedule was a release party for The Silk Road, the college's literary journal. There was food and wine (third event with free wine. Yet they complain about people partying in the dorms....I'm sensing a disconnect....)and there were free copies of the journal lying about. I picked one up and flipped through it. It looks good! I'm looking forward to reading it sometime when I have five minutes. Maybe I'll take it to the beach. That'd be nice.

This morning a post-grad did an interview with Bonnie Jo Campbell about her writing. I took lots of notes, but I don't want to just regurgitate the interview on here. Suffice it to say that her novels are based from her imagination, and her short stories are based on real stories in the lives of people she knows. She has a few hours set aside every morning to write, and she has trained her mind to bring her ideas at that time of day. She's won some prizes and yes, some of the more prestigious prizes allow a writer to pick the publisher, since winning prizes like the AWP award make more publishers want to take on your books. She gave up writing for a while when one of her advisors in college said she was no good, but she just couldn't get away from it. She started a PhD in math but dropped out to get an MFA instead. But it worked! She's a great writer and her career is going well.

After lunch I sequestered myself in the library to work on some residency reviews, but I was really tired and my brain wouldn't engage, so I only got a couple of them sort of outlined. We were talking to the assistant director at the party tonight and she said they're not really formal write ups. They're basically just wanting to make sure that the students are attending the talks, taking notes, and thinking about what the instructors are saying. So that's encouraging, because when I'm writing them I just sort of feel like I'm rambling.

I wanted to get some revisions done but I spent most of my free time staring at my computer screen and just not being able to think. So I came back to my room and took a nap until 7:15, then I ran out the door and made the Faculty reading on time. Tonight it was Sandra Alcosser and Stephen Kuusisto (I think I spelled that right...). It was just beautiful. I love Sandra's reading style. She really brings her pieces to life, but at the same time she gives each line its full consideration so the reader hears everything and doesn't get left behind. Some of the poets who have read lost me occasionally. I didn't have that problem with Sandra. Stephen is an interesting fellow. He's mostly blind, and actually was completely blind except for being able to see some light. About three years ago he had a special, very risky surgery which worked and allows him to see a little bit. He can read large print and he carried his iPad around with him reading off the screen. He also has a seeing eye dog, a big yellow lab named Nera. She laid down on the stage over behind the table where they put the water but she kept shifting. By the time he was done reading I could see her head peeking out from the edge of the podium. She's cute. Stephen was actually walking her without her harness for a bit earlier and he let me pet her. Rabbit Trail! His reading was enjoyable though. He read two lyric essays, a couple of poems, and the first chapter of a new memoir which deals heavily with blindness. He's a riot.

Afterward, I came out of the reading and two of my friends were out in the lobby. One of them came up to me and said "Did you see you got Ellen?" Apparently, they'd posted the student/advisor pairings already, and sure enough I got Ellen Bass! I am so excited. It sounds like most people were able to get their first choice for advisor. My roommate and I both got Ellen, however. Julia is saying that now we're going to be competitors and she wonders if the faculty have favorites. I said probably not, but just in case they do, it's on! (just kidding. It was pretty funny though. We were talking about going outside and having a knock-down drag-out fight outside the entrance to the hall. I said the fiction kids would probably stand around and watch). Notification of when the meetings will be is going to be posted in the room where we meet every day tomorrow morning. Tomorrow is also the last workshop. I plan to have Ellen sign my book at either one of those events if she is willing.

Everyone adjourned to The Urban Decanter after the faculty reading for the release party for the journal I mentioned. There was a graduating student there who has decided that I am stalking her. I told her it was either me stalking her or her stalking me, I'm not sure. Every single room I go to, event I attend, reading, lunch line, you name it, there she is. I can't get away from her. Or...she can't get away from me. Again, I'm not sure. Anyway, she was talking to Peter Sears and a post-grad student who both started telling him that I read my villanelle last night. They were both quite excited about that Villanelle. Peter is teaching a class Friday (Or Saturday? I have to check) on villanelles. I told him I had signed up for his class, and they all told me to take that one with me. I kind of hope he doesn't ask me to read it for the whole class. I mean, I will if he says to, but it's not the nice, dark, I can't see anyone watching me type of atmosphere I had at the student reading. Guess we'll see how it goes.

I moved outside with Jackie and her friends after a good while. It was too loud inside the building. Out in the garden in back, we found the Assistant Director. Poor lady is losing her voice but she is the sweetest gal ever! She asked us if we had any questions for her and she stood out there answering anything we asked her for the next hour or so, even though she was cold and could hardly talk anymore. I felt kinda bad. The admin people here are so great. I'm thinking I'll send them each a thank you note. There's only the three of them and they all work so hard. And they're so available! I really appreciate that about them.

Well, that's about it for today. I hope you all had great days and great weeks, and congratulations to my Carrie Lou for getting the supervisor postion at work. You're gonna be great!

Hugs all!
~Hannah Mae

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing experience you are having!! I feel your thrill with it all! Yay!