I've just returned from the Colorado Language Arts Society's regional conference. This year, the organizers moved it from The Broadmoor in Colorado Springs to The Inverness Hotel in south Denver. I appreciated the shorter drive, and the more reasonable hotel price. What's more, the layout of the conference rooms was less labyrinthian and the food was better (I did miss the black swans, though.)
This was my third time attending the conference, and the first time I haven't presented a session. I enjoyed just being there with no pressure to perform, and I attended several great workshops, including one by Denver Writing Project alum Jonathan Wright on differences between male and female brains. Another great session was offered by Metro State professor and poet, Renee Ruderman. I always enjoy her workshops, and was delighted to see my '05 SI comrade, Rhys Roberts, there too. What's more, I wrote a poem draft about meeting My New Boyfriend on match.com. (Yeah, I got divorced and turned forty last year. You think doing a teaching demo is stressful? Try entering the dating world after having been married fifteen (ulp) years. I discovered, however, that dating online is a lot like catalog shopping. You place your order and then wait to see it if looks good on you. When Bud was teaching us all about the fabulous applications of the internet, I had no idea it would end up bringing love back into my life!) In any event, with a little tweaking, this new piece might become a poem. Tune in to my blog if you want to see what happens with it.
As always, the highlights of the conference were the keynote addresses. I absolutely love being in the presence of such brilliant speakers and writers. It rejuvenates my hope for humanity and inspires me to be a better member of our species. This year, we were lucky enough to hear Ralph Fletcher talk about boys and writing, Dan and Dawn Kirby talk about memoir, Nikki Giovanni talk about her relationships with Toni Morrison and Rosa Parks, Katie Wood Ray talk about her work with "co-teachers" (writers whose work she uses as mentor texts in her classrooms), and Leonard Pitts talk about the craft of commentary and the writer's life. I left each of their presentations motivated to get back into my classroom and inspired to get out my own writer's notebook.
If enough people attended, it would be great to do some sort of CSUWP social event at next year's conference. I certainly love getting the literary jolt in the arm that the conference always provides, and I think combining it with some sort of summer institute reunion could be fun. Any interest out there?