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May 9, 2016
Comments Off on AWP 16

AWP 16

The Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference I attended in Los Angeles has been over a month ago but I’m still talking about it to friends and family.  Particularly the story that I swear to goddess I am not embellishing, the story where I coached my shy extroverted me to find Claudia Rankine in a crowded room to introduce myself, the un-embellishment where she met my “thank you for your artistry” with a nod/a smile/& then a slight rub of my upper arm and said how she liked my shirt!  We later shared a quick chat on a bench after she signed CITIZEN; I briefly shared my own experiences at a graduate poetry seminar, how it was my night for critique, and the lily white room went dead SILENT.  She shook her head, knew all too well that it happens, partially the subject of her AWP16 keynote address.

And oh how proud I was of my good friend Aja Couchois Duncan who shared the podium in the joint reading that evening.  Me (I learned through a professional development marketing talk) the black shy extrovert sitting in the front row, even playing technician when poets didn’t know what to do with the mike.  This was my first AWP, and I was not prepared for the hella overwhelming 20,000 writers, publishers, and media blitz.  But I found my way with hugs and smiles from Cave Canem fellows, and pep talks from mentors Caroline Goodwin and Maxine Chernoff, and a wonderful evening supporting Aja’s work.

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Feb 28, 2012
SN Jackson
Comments Off on Moving Behind Moses Project – 11 months down, 6 more to go

Moving Behind Moses Project – 11 months down, 6 more to go

I didn't think I was going to get this grant because there appeared to be a poet purist on the selection committee who didn't think a visual artist/poet/playwright/karate black belt/samba dancer/Berkeley MBA making a living in finance would ever pool it off – "not going to happen," she told her fellow judges/jurists.  She used Paul Hoover's recommendation (editor of Postmodern American Poetry – A Norton Anthology, as well as several poetry books – most recently desolation: souvenir from Omnidawn) against me.  Paul wrote in his letter that I was a poetry student and then switched to writing a play for my thesis.  OOPS.

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People hate the betwixed and between until they are dead and gone.  I'm glad the poet/player hater was overturned.  And here I am – 11 months in.  I've used the grant money received by the San Francisco Arts Commission to travel to New York, DC/VA, and LA doing research.  Wait – you whisper.  I thought this was a poetry book?  Well… it's betwixed and between (just like me.) 

Right now my desk is filled with Harriet Tubman and images from several collections (Schomburg, Women in Military Service for America Memorial Foundation, and the 20th Centurty Fox Research Library.)  The words… still on Moses and reeling over historical facts like she knocked her own teeth out with her pistol to "kill" the pain.  More to come as I get closer to the finish line.

 

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