Monday, February 7, 2011

You Imagine They Understand Every Word

You did not attend AWP, the gathering of all things writing and writers and write. This bothered you until you came across photographs from the gala. Crowds of people, elbow to elbow, birds on wires, saved only by flight from ground shock and death. People, crowds, reading, talking in time frames akin to the elderly and the way they nap. Here for a moment and then asleep again, then awake. Repeat.

In college, when you could have attended without paying fees, etc., you stayed in the hills as well. Trapped or protected. You were never sure. But you listened to stories during next residency and the one after that. And the talk of writing about the talk of writing wore you to a nub, a stalagmite formed in drops dating back to the boiling sea, you standing with your mouth moving and your drawl dropping all across people's faces, hanging from their ears.

Every fourth or fifth word, you figured. That's about what they ever understood of your twanged words, thrown out with auctioneer-speed. It was best when they talked and you could nod and stare pensively, whichever the comment called for or demanded.

Still, some part of you enjoyed the stories, enjoyed the evenings in the lobby of the Brown Hotel in Louisville with your classmates, enjoyed, and still enjoy, talk of writing and writers and write. It could be called back to watching mechanics at the coal truck garage across from your old homeplace trading theories on how to best fix this or a new idea of where to put this piece to lose the rattle and on and on. It was talk of craft, the building or fixing of things with people who spoke the language, understood the work.

So you think of AWP and a reading here or there, a chance meeting with someone whose work you have admired from afar. You make up a story in your mind about shaking that person's hand and concentrating on speaking s-l-o-w-l-y so the drawl doesn't drown them. And you imagine in this made-up story that you understand every word they said.


  1. i sure would like to hear you speak, mate. as fast as you like.

  2. If you have a mag to promote AWP's a great way to do so. If you don't, it's a really fucking expensive party, and without academic remuneration,I don't know if it makes sense to go. The hotels are never cheap enough for me. In Vancouver, I stayed in a hostel and had a better time there than I did at the conference, and at 10 bucks a night, too! In Atlanta, the weather sucked and I didn't have a table for Night Train, so I was reduced to walking around the bookfair. Which was OK, don't get me wrong, but I got the distinct feeling that without overt academic affiliation or editorial presence, the majority of conversationalists wrote me off as having nothing to offer quid pro quo and thus ignored me, mostly.


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