In the summer of 2003, I went with my late great friend Mary Rodd Furbee (sister of my dear friend Susan) to my first West Virginia Writers, Inc. Conference in the little burg of Ripley, WV. The gathering has met for more than 30 years now and boasts a line-up of past presenters that includes novelists Lee Maynard, Gretchen Moran Laskas, Brad Barkley, essayist/poet Jim Minick and children’s author Cheryl Ware to name just a few.
I’m looking forward to making the trek from the prairie to the hills again this summer to attend what will be my eighth conference. Humorist and novelist Terry McNemar, the organization’s president, is planning another stellar line-up.
This conference is like a big family reunion, welcoming old members and new alike into the fold. It’s a wonderful way for writers at all stages to jumpstart their creativity and feel energized about their craft. It’s also a good introduction to new genres.
Warning: I digress.
My aforementioned friend Susan says she likes to see where my train of thought ‘wends’ and eventually leads. Susan is too kind. I like to start at Point Q, detour back to B, and end up nice and neatly at Z.
My main introduction to poetry before WVW was Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner and Kubla Khan, with a little Charge of the Light Brigade thrown in. Sure I loved Poe, but his short stories, not the gloomy Lenore.
Then I started going to the conference, some years as a presenter, some as a pupil.
I learned about spoken word poetry, prose poetry (and flash fiction), list poems…and was educated and illuminated. Probably my favorite poem of all is Eliot’s The Wasteland, but it was nice to be exposed to some new things.
At this point, even if I were Susan, I’d wonder where I was going with this.
But I know exactly where I’m going because I know exactly where I started. At 5:45 this morning I was in a YMCA exercise room dropping and giving the substitute ‘drill sergeant’ ‘50’ in a toning class.
I recounted my day in an email to a friend. Reading over it, it occurred to me that I had written a ‘list poem.’
Lately I’ve been all about trying new things to embrace the lifestyle change I’ve experienced over the last year and a half. I’ve gone from an über stressed, overworked (my own fault), frantic lifestyle to the following:
i went to 5:45 a.m. 'toning' class run by substitute 'drill sergeant' instructor
came home, went back to walk
thought about yoga tonight but stomach muscles (or lack thereof) have had enuf
ordered flowers for funeral
worked on writing-related stuff, but not writing per se
feel fragmented, need more sleep
need to revive 'ancient' multi tasking skills that used to allow me to teach/advise fulltime
write, be 'super volunteer mom'
Bad poetry and pathetic pushups…it’s a start.