Thursday, May 7, 2009

Hiya Watha!

30,000 feet above Illinois
the clouds below look like something a couple of bad dogs might have rend from a couch’s cushion – puffs of stuffing scattered across a transparent living room floor. Fortunately the ear piercing whine that accompanied our takeoff has subsided leaving only an ocean roar that might be emitted from a twenty or thirty foot conch shell as we jet from Minneapolis to Cleveland.

I’m coming back from the International Reading Association Annual conference. This was a good one – I made a lot of really great contacts and even finagled my way into working with one of my pedagogical heroes, Ellin Keene – author of Mosaic of Thought and her newest To Understand. Both are seminal texts on comprehension theory and both make me want to stand up and run around the room in circles to expend the energy infused from the insights I’ve garnered while reading them. I will be a part of her institute at the end of June in Albuquerque New Mexico – I offered to empty waste baskets and park attendee’s cars – I hope she doesn’t take me up on that. In reality I’ll probably end up leading a couple break out sessions or hosting a reading – singing for my supper if you will.

Now is one of those times where it is right for me to sit back and appreciate how good I’ve got it. The last year has been a tough one for so many different reasons but it has also had some pretty high moments as well. This conference I am returning from is one of the higher ones. I was one of the organizers along with Magritte Ruurs, of an event called the IRA Poetry Olio – a fun reading featuring children and young adult authors, poets, and storytellers. This was the 14th annual installment and the third or fourth that I have been a part of.

To mix things up a bit I invited four local Minneapolis poets who have represented their city at the national Poetry Slam to also be on the bill with our more famous and established authors. Working with slam poets is always a precarious endeavor. You never know when one of these firebrands will decide that their “freedom of speech” usurps the sensibilities of their audience. I’ve seen visiting author programs shut down because of a certain “spoken word artist’s” misplaced sense of his or her right to say what they want audience and location be damned.

My trust in Cynthia French, the local organizer I counted on to wrangle me a posse of performance poets was well rewarded – the crew she assembled couldn’t have been more entertaining, gracious, thoughtful of their audience or professional – in a nutshell they made me look like a genius. Their good work has greased the rails for the inclusion of more local slammers when the convention moves to Chicago next year and years to follow.

On a side note – as I was riding the light rail train to the airport I eavesdropped on a conversation between a very pretty and petite blonde young woman and her male companion. She was extolling the virtues of field gutting salmon to make them easier to carry back from a river. I just love the Midwest dontchya know. That pretty missy serving you that apple caramel and pecan pie at the diner might have a smile just as sweet but chances are, if she had to, she could butcher you out and make bacon outta your butt – youbetchya.

1 comment:

Max said...

And as the robots tell us, our butts would certainly taste like bacon!