Poems: Instructions to Make Impossible Things

Today I attended the SAMLA 2013 Conference, here at the Mariott Altanta Buckhead hotel (right across the street from Lenox Mall–and don’t I wish I had realized that, because I would totally have driven there and parked in the Mall lot–I took MARTA in instead), and heard some really great speakers on a variety of topics, from art, to fairy tales, to Dr Who.  The opening “pre-session” that I attended focused on the publishing biz for both academic articles and academic monographs–which isn’t something you’d think I’d be overly interested in, as I’m not on the TT.  But I went anyway, and I think I might have liked this session the best–because it was informative AND funny.

The main reason I was at the Conference was because of chairing the SAMLA Poets panel (again–really, I need to give this gig up–but no one else seems to want it, either).  And the three other poets on the panel–Emily Schulten (West Georgia), Andy Frazee (Georgia Tech), and M.P. Jones IV (Auburn)–were extremely diverse and interesting in their work.  Emily’s poetry explored her relationship with her brother, whom she had donated a kidney to.  In general, I’m not a big fan of “body” poetry, but what I liked about her poems was the relationship between siblings that she developed in her writing.  M.P.’s work struck me as both Southern and Poetic with a capital P–lyric poems, certainly, and quite good (his mirror poem about his dying brother was great), and he read with that “poetic authority” that I so admire–and envy.

And surprising to me most of all was Andy’s work, because I hadn’t heard his poetry before, and I had asked him to be on the panel because I knew he was a poet (and I like him as a person), but only gave him the sketchiest of directions about “something poetry and digital-ish.”  So it was exciting to hear him read because he’s written this series of somewhat found prose poems that have come to him mining eHow, lines from poems he likes, and of course, his own imagination.  As he was reading, I kept thinking, This will be such an awesome collection when he gets done… and how long will that be??

I’ve asked him to share his work with me, just because I’d like to see how it looks on the page and parse how he structures the poems.  They were really just cool–like the titles were a little funny, but often the poems themselves were serious and sometimes painful.  He said that “Poems [are] instructions to make impossible things,” which was just a brilliant, pithy definition.  I don’t know if that is an expression he made up, or if he heard it somewhere, but it really is awesome. In fact, I think Instructions to Make Impossible Things should be the title of that collection, whenever he finishes it.  (I think I’ll tell him that the next time I see him.)

There are a number of sessions tomorrow that I’d be interested in seeing–the Eudora Welty Society session, for instance (which is at 8 a.m.!).  And actually, I could make it, since our tennis lesson has been moved to tomorrow afternoon because of City Finals knocking us off the court.  But as I’m sitting here, I’m noticing that I’ve been sneezing and coughing alot today, and my throat is feeling kind of wooly… Which means, that cold I thought I’d successfully dodged last week is probably here.  So it’s probably best that I limit my exposure to other people.

I don’t want to share any more germs than necessary.  And let’s face it, if I could sleep in, who wouldn’t want to do that?


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