What happens when you put 7,000 writers in the same place?
Sensory overload caused by stories which move through us and ideas which beget images as strong as actual memories and obligate introverts who usually spend a lot of their life energy forming personal relationships with their laptops to the bar.
- Reconnecting with some of the best people on the planet, friends and mentors from some of organizations I’ve been proud to be a part of including the Macondo Writers’ Workshop, Sol & Soul, and Split This Rock and hearing about the success they’re having in the world, especially in their own hearts.
- Being reminded by the incomparable Carolyn Forche that the hope of the world lies in human consciousness, and as constructors and extenders of language, writers have a role to play in the greater order of being, including politics. She also told a full house that what’s happening in Egypt is not a crisis as the American news media portrays (and urged us to watch real news about the Middle East), but something to be celebrated — even with poetry, as is happening in the streets of Cairo.
- Commemorating the 35th anniversary of Leonard Peltier‘s wrongful imprisonment with his writings, which brought me back to my reason for both writing and doing yoga, and helped me teach a sweet yoga class on Thursday night.
- Coming home to a letter from a writer in prison who’s been my pen pal for several years — and learning that he has gotten something published AND was released by the time his latest letter arrived in my mailbox.
- The synchronicity of meeting the right people at the right time, effortlessly.
- Feeling badly about missing the Macondo reception because of a simultaneously timed (and magnificent!) reading by Poets Responding to SB 1070 and learning that the superbly generous Sandra Cisneros had toasted my book in my absence. Resolving myself to make it back to San Antonio this year!
- Poetry Mutual for inviting me do a book signing at their table. The hundreds of tables at the book fair filled with journals and books and residencies and broadsides. The death of reading has been greatly exaggerated!
- Discovering that neuroplasticity and poetry have something in common. (Hint: study up on mirror neurons and how mirror boxes can alleviate phantom limb pain).
- Readings by old and new favorites, from Martin Espada to Sylvana Straw to Roger Bonair-Agard to Gary Shteyngart to Amy Hampl to Allison Hedge Coke to Lorraine Lopez to John Philip Santos.
- Learning the word “geomantic.”
- Wendy Call for gorgeously bookending my days at the beehive that is 7,000 writers by staying with me. (Claribel is grateful too!)
- This line from poet Bob Hicock: “I am trying to mean more than I did when I started writing this poem”
- Toi Derricotte’s story about finding Lucille Clifton’s poetry in a bathroom stall, and realizing our words belong in intimate spaces.
- My friend, neighbor and fellow poet coming to my house this morning so we can be writing buddies, and who instead snores gently on the couch as I write alone. My cat, doing the same, on the dining room chair.
- Despite forgetting at least three key facts in every conversation or class I teach, remembering who I am, and who I want to be.
I am honored to be part of the community of people who love words and ideas and use these to make the world a better place.
In peace and poetry, Yael