Winston-Salem, Day 3: the Gathering of Poets

In other words, the reason for the trip in the first place.

It’s late, and I’m beat.  It’s been a long day.  This post probably won’t be as thorough as the previous two.

I got up shortly before seven this morning.  Entirely too early for a Saturday, but hey, the things I do for art.  I walked to the place, joined half way by Preston, who noticed me taking some pictures and said hello.  Turned out we were going to the same place.  Also turned out we’d met quite briefly at the Lola Haskins workshop back in January.  Off to a good start.

I talked briefly with a couple other people before the workshops began, mostly Richard, one of the organizers (also organizer of the Haskins workshop) and Alexa, who teaches poetry in an adult education program.  The workshops were all fun and useful.  The faculty were friendly and encouraging.  I was nervous and somewhat intimidated by the whole thing because that’s just how I am.  But tell me, wouldn’t you be a little nervous taking a workshop with a former state poet laureate, knowing that he would be reading your poem and commenting on it?  There was no reason to be intimidated, though.  There was no attitude, except maybe one of “we’re all poets; let’s find out what we can learn from each other.”  It was very cool, and I hope to return next year.

After the workshops were done, the instructors did a brief reading, and then we went to dinner across the street.  After dinner, there was an open mic.  The last time I did an open mic was SparkCon, which was … not sure how to describe it.  Crap?  Well, good in that I thought I read well and was well received, but a vast majority of the other poets were bad.  Bad poets, not just bad readers of their poems.  This was nothing like that.  These were good poets.  Some better than others, some I simply liked better than others.  But all good.  There was real craft in the poems.  It was exactly what an open mic event should be.

I was undecided about reading even after I put my name on the list.  I went back and forth about what to read, pretty much not settling on anything until my name was called.  A number of people came up to me afterwards to tell me they liked my poems, including one of the instructors.  I felt really good about the whole thing.

And now here I am.  Last night in the hotel.  I’m really tired now (the trazadone has started to kick in–yay!).  This trip, both the extra days I took for myself and the workshops, has been good.  But I’m ready to go home.