My first conference. I sent my illustrations ahead, and packed my bag: a healthy infant ms, a First Page, a lunchbox and toothbrush. The most valuable thing I brought was humility.
I read my baby aloud, popped out questions, and kept my ears tuned to all stations: criticism and comments from editors, agents, authors and comrades. Because all opinions are ‘just one person’s opinion’.
That’s also how I reeled in a remark from author Chris Crutcher‘s opening keynote: truth floats. I was lucky to experience some of my own truth surface with agent Karen Grencik. I signed up for her post-conference session (or voice excavation!) because I went for it all, almost. Who knows when I’ll get to another conference. And truth floats, all right! The surprise was in learning all I needed to find mine was to trust in Karen’s evocative questionnaire – and unzip! The tissue box was passed around as we revealed our answers and shared our connections. She finally prompted us to create a poem, in 10 minutes, with: “I come from…”
Here is the raw and unpolished version of what I spilled:
I come from underneath the leaves,
golden, red and brown.
Lying still and layered
upon the sacred ground.
I come from the linear space,
between two walls of brick.
Muffled inside the layers,
silent, dark and thick.
I come from blossom’s bowel,
intoxicated with scent.
Quiet, still and waiting,
tucked in tight and bent.
We shared, and applauded our courage. Then it was all over, and time to head home. I drove north in a daze, drunk with all I had consumed. Tears waxed and waned with passing exit signs. Relief found me a good hour later, parked in front of my house, and not at Canada’s border.
Still digesting. More to follow…