My AWP is lasting longer than other people's who had to get right back to real life and to work. I saw Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie last night with my mother at The Guthrie. It was a gorgeous production that had me weeping at play's end. Am I like the unmarried "crippled" daughter who can only appreciate her glass ornaments (vis-a-vis "poems") and whose anxieties are so severe she cannot see through a typing class? Ah, but I have so many years of work experience. Could "old maid" be the word for it? What about "crippled?" My mother dropped her hearing device during the play and said out loud, "Damn!"
I saw Rosellen Brown outside the Hilton on the night of our arrival to Atlanta, a Wednesday, and thought she looked more beautiful than ever, though we are all "older" now than we were then. I heard her panel discussion about "different ways to tell a story" and learned that she sometimes writes fiction from poetry, that she drafts in poems first.
A list of writers from the panel of late-career bloomers, starting with Wallace Stevens, made me cry. Dorianne Laux was on the panel. She had been a waitress until she was 38. From the dais, she seemed to call out that some older people "are tired!" and "55-year-old women have sex!" and "Gerald Stern is so alive!" I had read some of her poems about lovemaking in a publication of The Loft during one of her visits to the Twin Cities. Later, I met her to talk with her, and she said that Rosellen Brown is the second smartest woman in the United States.
I met a poet from Washington, D.C., named J.D. Smith. Besides Yusef Komunyakaa, he was the most humble man I met at the event. He wrote me a dedication of his book called Settling for Beauty. I was taken by the title because I had realized at the conference that I had left off the Romantics, except for Blake, and that I would need to consider my relationship to truth and beauty. My other question, "what is experimental writing?" I had placed first.
I saw Phil Brady and co. from Youngstown, Ohio (he and his cw colleagues play in a great Irish band together), Bob Mooney, Eric Miles Williamson, Tom Williams, Ardyth Benfer, Robin Reagler, Lance Larsen, Tim Liu -- all old friends from the past -- and met Amy King, Evie Schockley, Susan Steinberg, Janet Holmes, Deborah Poe, Larry Fondation, his friend Jessica, Nancy McKinley, and Brian Clements. All of it made me happy, at first.