I have been assigned to work with the poet, Mary Szybist, who is one of my favorites. Her collection of poems, Incarnadine, received the 2013 National Book Award, and her work has both inspired and intrigued me for years. If you haven’t read her work, you might want to listen to her reading one of my favorite poems here >>>. Just one warning, once you hear the poem you might become as enamored and consumed as I was, immediately ordering her two books on poetry.
Working with accomplished writers is both intimidating and, in my limited experience, an utter joy. Listening to, and working along side, those dedicated to their craft is like no other experience. As an analogy, imagine that you love to cook and have decided to dedicate your life to becoming a chef. You spend your days experimenting in the kitchen, reading cook books, looking for mentors, and working in restaurants, maybe even going to culinary school. You start out as a dishwasher, move up to prep-cook and then on to the sauté station. There are moments in your experience when you follow a recipe and the dish comes out fantastic. People love it. You are learning your craft and building your own “voice.” Then a day comes when you feel fluid in the kitchen, your knife has become an extension of your hand. It remains hard work, but you begin to create dishes that are similar, but not exactly like, those of your teachers and guides. The taste and feel of your food has a unique flavor; one that has been built on a solid foundation; one that represents what you have seen in the world; always seen, but just now finally able to express it.
I’ll add a post or two more about my experience at the conference, but if you have any particular questions, just shoot me off an email: tfcarl at gmail dot com