Friday, August 29, 2014

Preparing for Poets on the Coast (or the Channel) in La Conner

One week out and we're still having fun 
This is the fourth year that my magical friend,  poet Kelli Russell Agodon and I are bringing together a community of women for a long weekend of writing, laughing, rewriting, and learning from each other. It's almost midnight and this is the third day in a row I have been writing new poetry prompts, organizing lists, talking with the hotel's special events manager and generally getting ready for another weekend of creative energy, craft, and fun.

Kelli and I work on Poets on the Coast for nine months of the year --- dreaming, planning, organizing. It's hard to believe that the ideas we hatch over coffee and chocolate are (hopefully) about to come true.

It's a very liberating, almost ecstatic, feeling to dream something up and then have it unfold before you. The first year Kelli and I brought together a group of 18 women in Nye Beach, Oregon was utterly surreal. As we detoured around the interstate closed due to a prairie fire (in Oregon!) I realized we had planned an opening wine and cheese reception for the poets without knowing where it would be held. We arrived at the hotel with 40 minutes to organize a party (and find the right party room).

We've learned a bit over the last four years beginning with: always arrive the day before events begin.

Each year there is a break through or celebration for one of the women that stays with me, that makes me feel Kelli and I are doing something good in the world: it might be one woman's first time doing yoga or another woman writing a heart wrenching poem that had the group in tears --- her first poem ever --- as she had considered herself a fiction writer. "

Over the years friendships have solidified and other poetry events have been started from this group.

Sure, some women move on to begin graduate school or for other activities. And yet each year the women who are meant to be with us come together in one last gasp of summer. Over half of this year's group are women who are returning poets. Radical hospitality' is a phrase coined by Amy Wheeler, director of Hedgebrook but I believe it applies to Poets on the Coast as well. We do our best to shower the group with inspiration, support, and try to focus on what each woman most needs in a quick one on one session.

As usual, I'll bring the homegrown sungold tomatoes and Kelli will make her blackberry cobbler. Food is a central part of the hospitality and thus the poetry of the weekend. From age twenty-something to seventy-something, from different backgrounds and points across the country, we come together.

I suppose the takeaway is if there is something in your life that you're dreaming about doing --- just do it. And if you can, it's great to do it with a friend.

We're thrilled for this year and already looking forward to our fifth anniversary in 2015.

No comments:

Post a Comment