Wednesday, April 14, 2010

On Character and Writers' Conferences

Poet laureate Kay Ryan writes about attending the monster writer's conference put on annually by Associated Writing Programs (AWP) in 2005:

I have a weak character. I am very susceptible to other people's
enthusiasms, at times actually courting them. I like to sit among people
who feel strongly about a basketball team, say, and get excited with
them. I love to love ouzo with ouzo lovers. These are, of course, innocent
examples. But this weakness concerns me in going to AWP. If I'm
exposed to the enthusiasms of others, I know that I am capable of
betraying my deepest convictions, laughing in the face of a lifetime of
hostility to instruction, horror at groupthink. The only way I've ever
gotten along in this world is by staying away from it; I have had only
enough character to keep myself out of situations that require character.
Now here I am, going to AWP. HOW am I going to remember:
these people are THE SPAWN OF THE DEVIL? They will seem like
individuals, not deadly white threads of the great creative writing
From Kay Ryan's "I Go to AWP," from Poetry, 2005.

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martha said...

I like her poems, in small doses (which is how they come: they're all quite short.)

Benjamin Chambers said...

Good to know - I ran across a profile of her in this week's *New Yorker* and liked what I read. What other poets do you recommend?