West Chester Day III

The next morning, I wake up and head off to breakfast. This time, I've learned to go early to get the good food, and catch the poetry conversation. As I'm heading down the elevator, a poet strikes up a conversation with me and we start chatting. That's what I love about West Chester!
Anyway, I find out that this man is actually an M.D, and we start talking about all things poetry. We sit down for breakfast with another couple of poets, one of whom I recognize from the workshop, Timothy (well, he kind of stands out since he has a very impressive beard.) It turns out we're all West Chester first timers, so we actually all have quite a bit in common, even though - well, to the naked eye, we don't. And that's another thing I love about West Chester, it brings together people who normally wouldn't be. I mean, I never thought I would have so much in common with a medical doctor from New York City, or an older gentleman who hails from Maine. Me, a twenty-something girl from the Tex/Mex border.
Anyway, all this aside, after breakfast we head over to the morning panel. I was determined not to miss this morning's panel because, well, it looked interesting on the program! LOL. It was a reading by the Mezzo Cammin poets! And boy was I blown away, these ladies have talent. Anyway, you can check it out for yourself, because they're on YouTube!

That's Dr. Julie Kanes, and no she won't introduce herself as such. I didn't know she was a PhD until I googled her. She's so humble and nice and talented and funny... and she has beautiful red hair :-D Being a blond in El Valle, I can kind of relate to her, standing out from the crowd. Anyway, if you don't want to check out her entire reading, skip to 7 minutes in. Her last poem was absolutely hilarious, plus it pushes feminist boundaries which, I'm all about.
Anyway, I also really enjoyed Marly Youmans' poems. Afterwards, I actually had the courage to go up and talk to her, and she was unbelievably nice. Her blog has some great West Chester reflections, too.
After the fantastic panel (I think the best panel in West Chester, really), the next up was a prosody panel by Dana Gioia. I like the sound of his voice, lol! So I thought I'd check it out. Boy, this whole prosody thing is kind of over my head... but it was informative none the less.
Antes the panel we headed over to lunch. I actually had lunch with Rhina Espaillat! OMG! She is WONDERFUL! Her Spanish poetry is really really great, and she's a well known translator as well. Plus, she's funny! We were chatting over lunch, and she recommended several places for me to submit my manuscript to.
And then, of course, was the workshop. Dana read a lot of poems, talked about different line techniques, principles for organizing the poetic line, and lots of cool technical stuff, some of which again went a bit over my head. Huh? The he busted out his Italian, which just sounded pretty to me, and  then German, which... ok I can follow along with that!
After the workshop, I headed off to a panel and saw my new buddy Bill (remember, we met at the airport, and we chatted everyday since). We sat together and chatted a bit about Hunke, and its contradicting nature. William S. Burroughs, in blank verse... ok to that's just hilarious. I had to excuse myself once the reading started (state poet laureates) because I felt a bit of a headache coming on. I think it was my head, being full of prosody and trying to absorb everything. It was full, and needed a moment's rest.
So I headed up to my room, and got ready for Richard Wilbur's 90th birthday party! How cool is that? It was awesome. I sat next to the birthday boy himself! And from then on, at West Chester, I was referred to as Richard Wilbur's buddy. LOL. I guess a lot of people saw us talking for quite some time. Richard Wilbur writes a lot about his experiences in WWII, and he just reminded me a lot of my late father-in-law. So we mostly just talked about that. Anyway, after having numerous glasses of wine with him and a host of other poets, I decided again to head back to my room. We were out on the lawn, and it was really hot and humid....
By the time I was 'ready' to head back out into the crowd, dinner was nearly over. That's ok, I thought, I'll just go down for a cup of coffee. I found Timothy hitting up the dessert table, and he wanted me to introduce him to Richard Wilbur, LOL! As if we were now friends. Anyway, I get a cup of coffee, and join Timothy's table. There I meet Alexander He, who turns out to be a very nice young poet from California. They tell me about their readings at the conference, and I'm actually a little bit jealous because I wish I had had the guts to read some of my work. Next year, I resolved.
Anyway, after my 'dinner,' we head out to the faculty reading. I walked with Timothy, which was nice because I really don't know my way around and apparently he does. The reading, again, was spectacular. Of course, Dana Gioia did a fantastic job, but I also really enjoyed A.E Stalling's work (I actually LOVE her performance style, she channels her nervousness into some sort of positive energy, I can't quite explain it) and Terri Witek, and of course Rhina!
At the end of evening, I run into none other than the legendary Marilyn Nelson!!! She invites Timothy and I to the pool party, and Timothy decides to go while I politely decline. Ok, Timothy's quite a bit older than me but how does he have so much more energy than I do??? LOL. I think it was the wine with Wilbur earlier that afternoon.... Anyway, I decide to be a party pooper. I see Becky heading to the dorms, and we stroll back together, so closes another day at West Chester. I'm so excited for the next day, day IV, because I have my one-to-one meeting with Dana :-) :-) :-)


  1. Hi Katie--

    Glad that if I could only be there for one day, it was the day of "the best panel!" Thanks for saying so--I had a lot of fun meeting the Mezzo Camminians and you and the West Chester gang... I now see why people talk about the conference as they do; it's really a whole community, very supportive and lively and kind.


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