My shoulders are aching from smashing up ice and shoveling it, even though I was only able to make discernible progress on my front walk and steps, and back walk. The driveway is a lost cause. I think it may be a Chicago thing, but I always have to have my front stoop and walk cleared off. I remember the old ladies of the west side always clearing off their stoops. It's a courtesy thing.
The kids have had two snow days in a row. The university has also been closed for two days in a row. Yesterday we made a Funfetti cake to keep busy. Cabin fever aplenty.
So here's where we are. Right now 90% sure that we'll be leaving tomorrow for DC. Had been planning to be arriving there about now, but with the situation pictured above (that's my street), we are not going to chance it.
Other folks on my panel have suffered similar problems, and unrelated ones, and ultimately we are going to have to cancel our panel on geography and religion. It would be really nice if the AWP folks would let us do it next year.
Here's an excerpt from my paper.
AWP Panel Struck Down By Act of God;
Or, Two Jews, a Catholic, a Buddhist, a Mennonite Sufi Shaman, and a ________ walk into an AWP Panel: Geography’s Influence on Writers Writing Religion and Culture.
A Snuff Film Starring Your Childhood Home: Urban Devastation, Crumbling Steeples, and Midwestern Poetry as Testimony by Mary Biddinger
I was a strange sort of transplant. Chicago childhood. Michigan adolescence and coming of age. Obsession with Detroit (literary, historical, photographic). I drove around Detroit’s neighborhoods in a Jeep and took pictures of houses, though the best shot was of the 14-story mural of Barry Sanders on the side of the Cadillac Tower. I wrote a hundred poems about Detroit. Moved back to Chicago. Picked up where I had left off.
So this is how you become so indelibly tainted with a harrowing landscape that you find yourself getting angry in a museum.
Your anger isn’t just because of the economic injustices that created a Detroit of the kind we see today.
It’s because the people in the gallery are beginning to touch the photographs. They are running their tongues along the information cards. Some of them are pulling out mirrors and tossing their hair around a little bit. Pretty soon it will be a room full of naked bodies, but not because the museum-goers wish to be reborn into the frames.
What I mean to say is that it becomes borderline pornographic.
Of course we all, in some way, want to help.
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So we're leaving tomorrow, and hopefully we will arrive in DC by late evening. I will spend some time at the Barn Owl Review + University of Akron Press table, which is A11. I also hope to make it in time to check out the Cleveland State University Poetry Center offsite reading at Asylum, 7-9 pm, knockout lineup.
At table A11 we will have BOR 4 for you to come marvel at (and purchase! please! it's our best issue yet!), and copies of all the new UA Press titles, including The Monkey and the Wrench.
Safe travels to all going to AWP, or anywhere else, for that matter.
Hope to see some of you soon!