But back to AWP. So much to choose from and sometimes I found two or three sessions that I wanted to attend only to see that they were scheduled at the same time. Maybe I can send my doppelganger along to some of those overlapping events. I do know I'm going to both panels on writing about sex and death; one follows the other on Friday morning. Dorianne Laux is on both panels. I'm going to attend one session on putting together your first book; ecopoetics with Ruth Ellen Kocher; Poets in the Desert; Body as Landscape; A Chorus of Hauntings, and many others if my energy holds up.
AWP is so fascinating because you can finally put a face to someone who you might have interviewed or only spoken to via Facebook. When I met Diane Glancy in NYC, I had already interviewed her twice for Winds of Change so it was nice to actually see her. And I want to learn. For instance, when I sat down to speak with Simon Ortiz, I was writing as fast as I could to take down all his wisdom. The interesting thing was that everything he had to say kind of summed up the entire thematic purpose of AWP. He spoke of the sacred power of language, how it depicts us and how our consciousness is in our language. Of course, he was directly referring to the colonization of Native Americans and how they still must use their languages as a means of resistance. He said, "When we speak, we use language conceptually. We perceive things in a different way. For instance, I could never fully address Acoma Pueblo concepts to other people [who don't understand the Keris language]. When we speak, we can't be glib with our language. Indigenous people have a responsibility to see things with a Native consciousness. They must not throw the beloved away." When I asked him if he thought that Native American literature was now becoming accepted into the "canon of American literature," he said, yes, it was slowly becoming integrated but mainly because "we [as Native peoples] have insisted that the indigenous point of view be recognized." He also, amazingly, said that he fully considered, as do many other indigenous people, NYC as indigenous land. All of it. Then he told a lovely story of how a Mohawk boy who worked on the high-rises, like the Twin Towers, was instructed that when he was at the top he should claim it with the spoken word. So the boy did. He said: "I am a Mohawk and my people built this." It was a very deliberate identification with his environment. And I could see this same identification in Ortiz as he walked through the five-star hotel lobby. Here was a high desert dweller, who walked right through this totally opposite environment as though he had been there from the beginning of time.
I hope and actually expect to witness some of that same magic of language at this conference. But enough about AWP. Shortly after it is over, I will be on a plane with my very favorite friend and outdoor partner, Mary Jean. We will be headed to Huntsville, Alabama where her family has a cabin on the Tennessee River in some tiny hamlet outside of Huntsville. She tells me the dogwoods will be in full blossom all around the cabin. We will be lounging for six days, eating barbeque and other Southern delights. Hopefully, some of that food will include fried catfish and okra. I guess it will be asking too much for barbequed goat. Those two things—fried okra and barbequed goat—bring back childhood memories of being on my grandparent's farm in Georgia. Of course, they also remind me of the many years I spent going to Haiti. How I wish someone in Denver would open a restaurant where they could serve spicy cabrit!
Almost as soon as I return from Alabama, my Denver writing group is scheduled to read poems at the Kirkland Museum, April 28th. Ekphrastic poetry. I have chosen a ceramic sculpture entitled Gryphon by a Colorado ceramicist from the 1940s, Martha Daniels, and an abstract expressionistic painting by Vance Kirkland entitled: Yellow Green, Green and Red on Violet (pictured to the left & above). I had a lot of fun writing poems to them this week and just handed them over to our "editor," Roger Wehling (who really does edit Wazee), who is putting together the booklet of our renderings. We hope we get a good reception, like last year.
Then, about a month later, my husband and I are scheduled to go to Washington D.C. where I am participating in a genetic study for the NIH. They want to study blood samples and store them in some national database. Apparently, I am of some interest since I developed the "wind disease" (in ancient Chinese medical terms) so young and am (I guess) very obviously (at least to neuropsychologists) OCD, as is almost every one of my siblings and one parent. Needles have never made me nervous (I love acupuncture), so that part of the trip (which is entirely paid for by the NIH) is just a sidetrack. I really wanted to visit Washington D.C. because I have never seen the Vietnam wall or the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian!
And I am still waiting and hoping that the other study I applied to will come through. If that one comes through I will be blogging from Germany, my mouth full of dark chocolate,while they study its effect on my condition. I think I have not heard from them because there are probably at least a gazillion women who have signed on to that one!