Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Just in under the wire...

…of the fiscal year, I’m finally going to take my long-delayed grant-funded writing retreat. Essentially, I’m going out in the woods for a week and locking myself in a room with a pile of belligerent, unruly poems, and I’m going to wrestle them to the death or until they turn themselves into a proper book, whichever happens first.

It sounds terrifying but fun. I like “terrifying but fun.” It’s good for me.

Okay, I said “going out in the woods” but in reality I’m going to be staying in a rather nice little suite at the Clifty Inn, in Clifty Falls State Park. I will have internet access (all the better to run around checking various publishers’ page requirements as I cobble this thing together), a fridge and a microwave AND a restaurant (but I’m a cheapskate so will probably only eat in the restaurant a couple of times), and even apparently a whirlpool bath. People, I know how to rough it in the woods. *grin* The woods are an important piece of the puzzle, though. I want to be able to go out and tromp around when my head gets too full of words.

I hope that in the process of whacking the poems together into a coherent manuscript (is “coherent” too much to hope for…?), I’ll also manage to do some serious revision on some of them. I definitely want to go back and look at a lot of my titles. I have boring titles.

* * * * *

I did, last week, manage to revise a chapbook manuscript & sent it in to a contest just hours before the deadline (email submissions, o how I love thee). Feeling pretty good about that, as I think I improved the original manuscript significantly and by the time I hit send I rather liked what I had. It is definitely more thematically structured than the chapbook I’ve got coming out this summer, which is fun. We’ll see what happens.

* * * * *

This past weekend I attended a reunion for alumni of the dorm I lived in as an undergrad. It’s not just a regular dorm – it’s the “Living-Learning Center” on campus and has always been known as the hippie, social-activist, artsy, happening dorm. Certainly it’s the only one I would have willingly lived in for three full years. There were a lot of people younger than me there, a few older, and a handful from “my era” – some of whom I hadn’t seen since the early eighties. (I lived there from 1979-1982.) Pretty wild. Even though I work just a couple blocks away now, I never go over there anymore – no reason to, really – so it was weird to be back inside those limestone halls.

In the evening there was an open-mic coffeehouse, which was really just like old times with some noisy punk-ish music, some folky acoustic music, a staged reading of part of a script, and some poetry. Yep, I read a few poems (hell, give me a stage and a microphone and I’ll take it anytime). I remembered so vividly the first poetry reading I took part in there, back in the fall of 1979. I was 18 years old and probably read some Terribly Sensitive Poetry. We had snacks set out on tables, and the coffeehouse was lit by candlelight. After I read there was an intermission, and I basked in the glow of having Shared My Terribly Sensitive Soul – for the first time in my life I felt like one of the cool kids. I got a snack, and leaned back against one of the tables talking to someone, basking in the glow et cetera …

…when all of a sudden this guy leaped forward and started whacking me on the back of my head.

Then I noticed the, er, slight scorched aroma around me.

Yep. I’d leaned back against a candle and set my long hair momentarily on fire.

So much for being cool. I think I was cool for about five minutes there, and then never again.

I’m more careful with candles at poetry readings now, I promise. And much less Terribly Sensitive, thank gawd. Still got long hair though.

* * * * *

Headed up to my mom’s for the long weekend and some slightly-before-the-actual-event birthday cake. I’ll probably watch part of the Indy 500 while I’m up there, just to see if Danica can win the thing. I’m not really into car races, but I’d be excited to see a woman win it. Go Danica!

* * * * *

Speaking of cars: "It will answer LIVE FISH OF INDIANA on the phone." You gotta check this out. You can't make this stuff up, people. Even though I live less than 20 miles from where this allegedly takes place, though, I don't think I live in the same state at all. This guy must live in that OTHER Indiana. Yeah, that's the ticket.


Collin said...

Woah...you almost had a Michael Jackson moment with your hair. lol

Have fun at the Clity Inn...errr Clifty. A week of writing in a spa-like location sounds heavenly.

Lyle Daggett said...

So, at your first poetry reading you burst into flames...?

That is, without a doubt, cool. :)

Emily Benton said...

hehehe yeah, I think hair on fire after reading your poetry is prophetic. great story. and have a nice retreat!

KATE EVANS said...

Have fun wrestling the demons...I mean poems!

Lyle Daggett said...

Anne, I just read the item at the "Live Fish of Indiana" link in your post. I read some of the comments people made in the website too -- a lot of them were even funnier and/or goofier than the article itself.

In Minnesota, in the winter, in some of the towns in the northern part of the state, now and then a group of people will amuse themselves by driving a beat-up old heap of a car out onto a frozen lake, and then they'll place bets on how long it takes for the car to fall through the ice when the ice melts in the spring.

Just to say that the dandelions of wierdness can pop up pretty much anywhere... :)