08 June 2009

Post Conference Fatigue

Ted Kooser Reads His Poetry

(Not from the Wyoming Writers Conference, but the reading was similar to what we heard.)

Like MacArthur, I have returned, finally. You can stick a fork in me, I'm done for a while. I've had a fun filled week of case manager training for work in Casper – came home, petted the Corgis, turned around, and went off to a weekend writer's conference in – you guessed it. Casper. Same hotel, different colleagues.

The Wyoming Writers, Inc. 35th Annual Conference. The lineup included poet Ted Kooser as featured presenter, editor Chuck Sambuchino, Agent Meredith Kaffel, author Amanda Cabot, and author Tina Welling as well as stints of annual Wyoming Writers, Inc. tidying - like electing new officers and revisiting the bylaws.

I attended Ted Kooser's workshops, one on Revision, and one on Fine Tuning Metaphors. He had some interesting things to say, I'm not sure I agree with everything put forth, although it is always inspiring to hear others talk about their method of work. I took what I could use, and filed the rest to think on later. It was nice to hear Kooser read from his own work, not just poems, but an essay. There is a good summary of the last session on Metaphor by Mike Shay over on the Wyoming Arts Council Blog. I found the video on YouTube of Kooser reading his work. He told the same opening story at the Conference – I hadn't thought of him looking like that until he told the story. I was thinking gnome.

The other workshops were informative and interesting, full of the type of tidbits every writer needs. It was a good mix of agent, editor, authors and poet to choose from, helpful when you write in different areas. All the presenters were wonderful – personable, approachable, and they seemed genuinely delighted to be in Wyoming (even if they would have to get up at Oh Dark Thirty to catch their flight home). There were probably a little over one hundred people in attendance, which is the big advantage to our conference, as opposed to the World Science Fiction conference, where you are one of 4000 people.

I read three poems at Open Mike on Saturday night. Pneuma, Everything I Need (which needs a new title) and Zero Gravity. It's hard to decide which poems to read; some lend themselves more readily to 'performance', others to the visual on the page. Since our assignment was, 'You get three minutes to read', I went with relatively short poems. I liked listening to everyone, such a diversity of subject matter and reading style. I need to work on the performance end of my poems, but hey, for an introvert reading after a long day of extroverting, I think I did okay.

Now to recover, and contemplate a trip to hike in the mountains, I need the peace and quiet for a change. Of course, I'll have to wait until the snow melts again – yes, you heard me, we had snow – I'm not that into wading through snow and slush for my mountain meditation, even if my hiking boots do claim to be waterproof.



Matt said...

Man, that sounds like a good conference. Most of them are pretty light on the poetry side of things but there are a couple of good ones here in Ohio.

I agree with the difficulty in choosing what to read at an open mic. I try to stick with past favorites when attending a new conference, but I also need to try out some new work to see how it plays off the page.

Constance said...

Great conference, small enough to make contacts. The editor even played piano and led everyone in karaoke. :) You should come next year - it will be in Cody.

Choosing what to read is always my problem. I think you have to gear it to the crowd, too. I did one new poem, one old, and one I just finished fine tuning. I wanted to see audience reaction. Of course, we went from 5 minutes Friday night to 3 minutes Saturday, so that helped my decision. Short!

Carla said...

That sounds like a really good conference. Hope you recover (and the snow melts).

Constance said...


It was a good conference. And hot today, no snow in sight!