Okay, I took some pics!
This is the Denver Convention Center where the book fair, registration, and panels take place:
And the entrance to Exhibit Hall A or whatever it’s called; the main hall. What’s nice is the entire book fair is in one hall this year, with carpeted aisles! Still a bit overwhelming, but more manageable, and there seems to be more thought to how things are grouped together. I still don’t understand why they just don’t set up the tables alphabetically, but whatevs.
Upon entering the book fair a second time I ran into a friend of mine from Michigan MFA days, Rachel Richardson, and her hubby, poet David Roderick. I then found the Barn Owl Review table and captured this great shot which I call “Biddinger upon seeing Hittinger:”
The visit turned into a photo shoot at the table (Mary I had to steal your photo from facebook as I had wonky eye in mine!):
Mary and I discussed our last names and how we are fellow “-ingers” (for those who ever wondered how to pronounce our last names, no hard ‘g’ but soft ‘g’ as in ‘-ing’).
I then had a nice, long chat with Rebecca Morgan Frank from Memorious about the trials and tribulations of getting your book manuscript published, especially after you’ve published almost every single poem in the mss with good journals and have placed it multiple times in contests. But good news! Her book will be coming out with the international small press Salmon Poetry. Woo-hoo! Also, at the table you can hear Randall West’s finished composition for the winner of the art song contest. (Side note: I hope to have news soon to share with you all about my collaboration with Randall West…)
Okay, that’s all the pics I have at the moment, but not the end of my adventures. I got Neil de la Flor to sign a copy of Almost Dorothy (Marsh Hawk Press books are 50% off at the conference, can’t go wrong there!) and then went to the “Queering Desire” panel which was a fun meeting ground. Ran into Paul Lisicky who was leaving the room from a previous panel; will have to catch up with him later at the conference, but we both admire each other’s pieces in the new issue of Knockout (which is a kick-ass issue which you should purchase and read cover-to-cover). And then I got to meet some people I’ve only “met” online via facebook: RJ Gibson (whose new chapbook Scavenge you should purchase), Christopher Hennessy (whose important book of interviews with gay poets, Outside the Lines, you should own and read), and from the panel the hottie Jericho Brown (whose book Please you should own), and David Groff, who I admire more and more every time I hear his lectures which are full of humor, sharp insight, and eloquence (I remember being very impressed with him at last year’s AWP too). I really hope the essays by David, Stacey and Maureen make their way into print soon; powerful stuff to chew on which I’ll try to summarize here, though my notes are a bit scattered:
What I wrote down from Jericho: he reads, at the turning of the seasons, three essays: one by Adrienne Rich, one by Langston Hughes, and one by T.S. Eliot (“Tradition and the Individual Talent” – I’ll work on getting the names of the Rich and Hughes essays). I wrote down “we should not outlaw any part of the self in a poem” and “the more adjectives put in front of the word ‘poet’ the more context and complexity we can bring to the poem” which sort of turns what could be seen as reductive labels “this is a gay, black poet” to expansive ones.
What I wrote down from Maureen Seaton’s hilarious personal narrative: she opened by saying “Hi queer people! You queer homos. And queer heteros.” She was the first of the panelists to put emphasis on queer as a verb (“to queer”) and what it means to “queer the world” simply by just being there. Queer desire is big, fluid and messy, which are good things. She raised some good questions too, including “are queers the only ones who write queer?” and “what would happen if we didn’t label our writing or ourselves anything?” which tied very nicely into Ely Shipley’s more philosophic approach to the panel topic putting pressure on language and how language can get in the way and limit, but also expand through the compression in writing a poem.
Things I wrote down from Shipley’s paper: Lacan and mirror theory? (baby contemplating reflection for first time, can’t obtain reflection, reminded me of Narcissus). ”The I is always Other” – Rimbaud. The impulse to write about queer experience (noun, queer as identity) vs. to queer (verb, queer as action: to disturb, unsettle, inquire, complicate identity). To be both/and. To be not at all. Perhaps all poetry is queer as it queers common language: “the queering of common speech” where poetry makes new and multiple meanings by condensing and enjambing language.
Things I wrote down from Stacey Waite’s paper in six parts (also hilarious – she likes instructions, being told what to do…lol): from the first sections “origins” : what queer does vs. what queer is. With which body do you make and read poems? What is the queer body? From the second section “queer disrupts models of expectation” : Body as text, gender as performance. From section three “queer desire queers the environment” : “knows the moment it talks about history, history slips and changes.” I liked the title for section four “queer desire knows what it cannot know” and section five “queer desire transforms your asshole into your heart temporarily.” Its knowledge fades.
And stuff I wrote down from David Groff’s essay: why are explicit sex poems by queer poets so often bad / do we deem them bad because of some sort of internal censor or suppressed homophobia? Conspiracy of exclusion. Hetero gatekeepers do not take our desire seriously; nothing universal to them in the specifics of our desire. Brokeback Mtn. the most mainstream we get and aside from Rufus Wainwright’s songs in it, the whole affair was made by straight folk. Our lovemaking is a political act the moment we pull down the zipper. Transformative power of transgressing “roles” such as penetrated or penetrator. ”Desire is about everything but consummation.” Desire as a state of being, sister to grief. Both live in relation to a missing thing or object you want or miss. Hunger, urge for union. Our desire defines our identity. The authenticity of our experience. The concept of radical content. Queer desire is not procreative but generative. We can taste the sublime through our desire.
Last but not least I can’t forget the Wilde Boys! Out en masse: Alex Dimitrov, Saeed Jones, Angelo Nikolopoulos (who I also finally got to meet in person), Jerome Murphy, Billy Merrill…and so many new people I’ve met. Still learning names. But for now, I am exhausted and need a nap.