Workshop workshop

My annual juried intensive poetry workshop began Monday morning at the COA and finished last night with the party here. This group was very lively and seemed to get along well. Everybody did the assignments, unlike some years. Everybody showed up on time in the mornings and came on time for their conferences. Nobody was overly argumentative and nobody challenged me for leadership of the workshop or seemed to believe –at least not openly — that they know more than I do about poetry. They all went to the beach party and helped Woody bring wood down the dune to the beach and clean up after the fire. Last year, nobody helped. He was half reluctant to make the beach fire after last year, but it turned out to be lots of fun for him this year. This group was more into it and everything in general that we offer them.

The conferences are the most exhausting part of it for me. It’s face to face. I try to give an honest and direct critique without hurting their feelings or discouraging them in their writing. I have spent a day on each of their manuscripts and writtenout my comments, which I give them at the end of the conference.   Besdies critiqueing individual poems, I try to give them an overall look at where they might wnt to go, what their specific strengths are and what they might want to work on.

The reading at the library went very well, although my assistant had given me the wrong poem to start my reading. I plowed through it anyhow. We had a good and enthusiastic crowd.

My dear Melenie came down on Thursday and we had supper together and a little time to catch up. One of the participants had dropped out the Friday just before the workshop, so it was way too late to replace her from the waiting list. Therefore I had no conference on Friday. When I got back from the workshop, we could start cooking. While I was at the COA, Melenie baked a wonderful moist almond cake rich with lemon and orange zest. We got going with Melenie making our houe chickpea feta salad and me making a curried turkey salad. I’d simmered a turkey breast the day before between the conferences and the public reading. We made a Middle Eastern cucumber mint orange blossom salad, guacamole, gravlax, shrimp, house taboulli, 2 fancy cheeses – a good mix of dishes for veggies and cardivores. We had the class party inside for the first time ever because after a partly hot and partly perfect week, the wind spray up hard, it clouded over and eventually rained.

Everything of course has gone to hell during the workshop. The heat caused the spinach to bolt. I’d only frozen 4 lbs last weekend. Now I have to freeze as much as we can when the rain stops today. I’m still semi-exhausted, Everything is a mess. The weeds have taken over in some areas. I haven’t got to what roses survived the drought last summer except for Nahema which I fed and weeded as it’s right outside the greenhouse door. The extreme heat for four days finished the rhododendron blossoms that had been so spectacular up to then.

We have some leftovers from the party, but tonight we have been invited to supper at some friends’ house in Brewster. We’ll drive through Nickerson State Park to get to their road, as they live way back in the woods.

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