Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Are we there yet?

As those of you who know me (and many who don't) are all too well aware, I have been working for over a year on organizing a conference for SUNY faculty on the topic of "teaching creativity."

Well, after all the preparations, which have become increasingly frantic over the past few weeks, the day is nearly upon us. Friday, March 31st, from 9-6 in the John E. Reeves Great Hall at the Fashion Institute of Technology, to be exact.

I've been spending tons of time updating the conference website, dealing with technical set-up, catering arrangements, working with the budget, coordinating panels, etc. etc. etc. Last night I was up until 1 a.m. putting together a document with presenter bios, to be included in the program. I had to edit many of them, copy and paste them from dozens of separate emails and attached documents, format everything--they were even in alphabetical order.

This morning, when I went to open the document, I discovered that somehow it had not been saved to my C drive. Apparently, it had been in some "temporary" drive, and the computer had totally deleted it. Imagine my chagrin.

I have to say that I have an incredible team helping with this herculean effort: graphic designers, display and exhibit people, facilities coordinators, media services staff, print shop and graphics lab folks, and most of all, my long-suffering collaborator, Desiree Koslin, and Celia Baez, for whom the term "assistant" is a misnomer, an understatement, and so forth. They have kept me (somewhat) sane, as has my "wife" Bob. And I also must thank Beth and Steve, my Smarthistory friends, who have two conferences under their belts, and who have provided invaluable advice throughout the process. (Check out their blog--they have really cool sound files of their tandem responses to famous paintings--I tease them that they're the morning drive radio of art history.)

Anyway, I must try and get a little sleep. Teaching Prufrock tomorrow, and Spencer Reece, and Kim's "Sonnenizio on a Line of Drayton" (with the Drayton original). And Marvell's "Coy Mistress" and Annie Finch's great response. It's all about history, folks! Oh, and of course, CREATIVITY.

Saturday, March 25, 2006


AWP conference stories from poet-bloggers have come and gone, and I'm way behind. Consider this image representative of my experience two weeks ago. I had the pleasure of dining with my poe-pal Kim and her friends Susan, Jessica, and Elizabeth 3 out of 4 nights, often accompanied by the gallant David, who we joked was our "hander" and who introduced me to his Bennington bud Reb. On this particular evening, Susan's friend Danielle joined us at a swanky restaurant in the Warehouse District called Starlite--exquisite food in small portions.

Other social highlights: I was one of an apparent cast of thousands who dined with the fab Denise and Nick at Stubbs over the course of their stay (though I am nowhere to be found on Carbonator--I think I broke the camera). Ran into Carly, who was staying on the same floor, and old friends from Cincinnati: April Lindner, Stephen Frech, Lee Newton, Don Bogen (my dissertation director!). Watched bats fly out from under the bridge. Saw Piotr, Peter, Sarah, Martha, Kevin in the book fair, missed Gaylord, Deborah, and many others. Hung out with Randy for about 2 minutes. Met Aimee in the elevator, and Mary in my discussion group in the Pedagogy Forum multi-genre session--and at the Rhino table. Ran into Scottie and Jose, Mark, C. Dale, Sandra, et al. New Yorkers Anna and Stephan were staying in my hotel. If I have forgotten anyone, please let me know!

Oh, and of course there was the actual conference. The Pedagogy Forum rocked, thanks to Brian, Leilani, Liz, and Ander; I was glad to be a part of it. Greatly enjoyed panels on teaching creative writing to non-English majors, a pow-wow of Creative Nonfiction bigwigs, and prosody for 21st century poets featuring Tom Cable, Tim Steele, Annie Finch and the incomparable Marilyn L. Taylor. Readings by a number of fine poets. The Book Fair with its usual hyperventilation-inducing plenitude. And, of course the hotel lobby bar and after-hours parties, where the names on your syllabus come to (often inebriated) life. You gotta love AWP!

Props to Beth Frost and Charles Flowers for getting me through the flight there, to Rachel Wetzsteon for the New Yorker mags, and to John Talbird for distracting conversation on the flight back (including a lovely sojourn in Hartford due to fog at JFK). Read a cool article on absinthe while bumping over the stormy midwest in the little Embraer jet. Finally made it home in a gypsy cab at 1:30 a.m., only 4 hours late. Whew.