Day 4

It’s challenging because, even through the simplest lens, there are two worlds: 1)Attending the workshops, craft talks, presentations, readings, panels, and organized social events during the day, and 2)Attending and encouraging the spontaneous gatherings that happen all night and into the wee hours of the morning. To visit both universes is, to say the least, exhausting.

“Pace yourself,” the director told us all one semester ago. “I try to attend all the events because I’m the director and I feel like I have to. But by the end of it I’m even pushing hard to get through. If you need to pick and choose, do so.”

Which of course, I don’t. I go to all the events, all day long – and at least 80% are doing that. But after the formal readings, which close each day of programming, I couldn’t go to sleep if I tried. It’d be like knowing that Haley’s Comet was guaranteed to be in your line of sight that night, and choosing to close your eyes.

And so…this is how it is that I find myself [last night] a few floors down and two corridors over, sitting on the floor and staring up at the soles of PF’s cowboy boots, which are propped up on the coffee table for comfort. And this is how it is that finally we can talk face to face, and some of his other advisees are there too – and all the learning suddenly takes on a different tone. We’re real with each other in a way that even our printed words don’t allow us to be. This is real time, in the moment, and we can read each other’s faces and body language like the maps that we’ve been missing all semester. It feels right, and good, and with another glass of wine, it somehow doesn’t seem to matter that it’s well after midnight.

And it if furthermore why, at the factuly/student pizza party tonight, I walk around poking poets on the back and whispering requests for readings in their ears. I want to hear PS read “Men and Fat” or “Coming Home” or maybe even “After Tedious Arguing.” I’m hoping MB will read “Flyswatter” or “Suppose,” or “Reflexes.”

Which is all how, later tonight, LG (book forthcoming, just nominated for the Pushcart – a student, no less) and I are standing on the balcony of her graduate sweet and a crew of others join us where finally we get down to the nitty-gritty and can vent and shout our barbaric yawps of poetic maxims at the expanse of Pacific Ocean unfurling just 100 yards away.

Or how MB did read some of the poems I requested, even though it had been decades, even though he’s a different man and a different poet now, and how the best part was that he laughed at the end of one of them, as if surprised by his own work – encountering an old friend again after so many years.

And how today, when JM was talking about elegy and Freud, the top of my head just flew open. He said, “We want to express our mastery against change and death. We don’t have any mastery against it thought but we want it. So, we use repetition in the elegy because it creates a sense of an unbroken pattern that could be opposed to death. Repetition is also a psychological healing. Do you have a story you’re telling yourself over and over again? I do. I have these images I can’t get away from because that part of my life is over and I can’t believe it. The repetition is the rhythm of lament. We have to look at our work and understand where elegy fits in, how it commands us…”

And how, and how, and how…this is only the beginning, how it’s so surreal because for 11 days we have permission to be nothing but artists. We live in a bubble by the sea. Tonight, my blankets are seaweed, my pillow made of salt foam, the sound of my breath an echo of the waves.

[Ocean view photoon new website…note the “dot” we call the “sun” in Oregon making a rare appearance.]

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