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Saturday at West Chester

Posted 06-11-2011 at 09:02 AM by Catherine Chandler
I'll try this again. Early this morning I had prepared a lengthy blog about yesterday's activities and when I hit the "Post Now" button, I found I had been logged out. When I logged back in and tried to retrieve the blog, everything but the title had disappeared.

Suffice it to say that Friday's panels and classes were informative and inspiring, in particular the Mezzo Cammin Fifth-Anniversary Readings, chaired by Kim Bridgford, with readings by Rhina Espaillat, Julie Kane, Leslie Monsour, Annabelle Moseley and Marly Youmans.

A reading of Psalm 139 by friends of Wil Mills was held at 10 o'clock, followed by a panel entitled "Twelve Years of the Fitzgerald Award and the Pregress of English Prosody. What a treat to hear from Thomas Cable, R.S. Gwynn, David Rothman and Timothy Steele on this topic.

My second master class with Alicia Stallings continued the discussion of the elements mentioned in my blog yesterday, and we read and studied poems by Philip Larkin, Julie Kane, Averill Curdy, James Dickey and Ian Duhig, once again looking at tropes, enjambments, opening "tacks", metrics, and the use of inversion, classical register and perfect word choice.

State Poets Laureate Marilyn Taylor, Dick Allen, David Mason and Marilyn Nelson conducted a panel in the early afternoon.

But the BIG NEWS was the wonderful Richard Wilbur 90th birthday celebrations. First off, a discussion panel chaired buy David Mason, with participants Robert Bagg (Wilbur's official biographer), Dana Gioia and A.E. Stallings offering insights on his work. Then Mr. Wilbur enchanted us with his reading of many of his older and newer poems, including "The House" which had me near to tears, and a few from his "words within words" series, which he delivered with the perfect timing of a stand-up comedian, where he had us all in stitches. We then walked over to Alumni House as the sun was setting, and had a little reception, then the toasts began.

R.S. Gwynn gave a tongue-in-cheek rendition of "You made Me Love You" in his best Judy Garland imitation voice. Then toast after toast by poets Leslie Monsour, Rhina Espaillat, Catherine Tufariello, Jennifer Reeser (she read a poem by Wil Mills) and Dana Gioia. Michael Peich, former director of the conference, also made a wonderful toast and presented all conference participants with a letterpress broadside of the Wilbur poem, "Sugar Maples, January".

By the way, we had all also received a handout at the panel discussion, of samples of Wilbur's early (boyhood) poems and other works, as well as a photo.

Then we all joined in and sang "Happy Birthday".

After dinner, where there were three huge birthday cakes for dessert , I attended the second faculty poetry reading and heard moving poems by Rafael Campo, Terri Witek, Micheal O'Siadhail, Rhina Espaillat, A.E. Stallings, and Dana Gioia.

I had planned to go to the poolside party at the Day's Inn, as I was looking forward to hearing David Landrum play the guitar and Gerry Cambridge play the harmonica, but most of my friends, myself included, were too tired at that point (10:30 p.m.) so we went back to the dorm and did some homework .

This morning I attended the critical seminar report-outs and will have a one-on-one session with Alicia Stallings soon, as well as day 3 of our master class. A book signing in the afternoon, and of course, the ABLE MUSE ANTHOLOGY AND ABLE MUSE PRESS discussion panel, with leslie Monsour chairing, and participants Kevin Durkin, Julie Kane, Alex Pepple and A.E. Stallings.

A social hour and picnic is scheduled for the early evening, then a concert and a dance party.

I will sleep on the plane home tomorrow .

Love and Peace,
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  1. Unread

    I realise how hectic, how absorbing your time is at West Chester, and so my thanks to you for taking the time to describe the experience is double what it would ordinarily be. Your verbal account is better than any photograph could convey.

    It's better than a post card, almost, ALMOST, as good as being there.

    Heartfelt thanks,


    p.s. can you write some more, when you are home, and have had time to absorb it all?
    Posted 06-12-2011 at 03:23 AM by Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
  2. Unread
    Well recorded Cathy. Thank you.
    Posted 06-12-2011 at 05:30 AM by Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
  3. Unread
    Thanks, Cathy! Your reports are much appreciated, especially since you had to type this one twice.
    Posted 06-12-2011 at 10:43 PM by Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
  4. Unread
    Scott Miller's Avatar
    Cathy, it was so nice meeting you at West Chester. I'm glad to have found such a great community online -- otherwise, I don't know what I'd do until next year!

    I've thought a lot about "tacks". Went through a serious revision surge after finding inspiration in that Frost draft.
    Posted 06-24-2011 at 08:22 PM by Scott Miller Scott Miller is offline

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