The early afternoon was spent in room 308, slick stacks of poetry books on either side of us, three judges, one moderator, quick exchanges, slurries of words, protection and suggestion. I learned much: what it means to champion a book, what it means to wish you had more than four slots, what it means to expect one thing going to bed and another as the day moves on, what other readers are looking for in a book of poems, what one can do in a concentrated three hours. A hard winnowing.
And today, the aftermath on Facebook, the authors who are linked up, the readers, the congratulations, the names "missing." The stubborn sigh of poetry.
I anticipate April more now, being a first-round judge. Last year, I knew.
This was a different kind of hard. Would I know which of the four to pick as the final winner? Maybe. Probably. There is such a gorgeous range, was just as much so if not more in the whole selection.
For the non-locals: Invisible Strings by Jim Moore, Whorled by Ed Bok Lee, Budda, Proof by Su Smallen, and Bodies of Light by Athena Kildegaard.
After, my dear friend Opal met me for tea, and we looked at the fantastic wood block prints in the coffeeshop and we talked for two-hours-that-felt-like-five-minutes. That good kind of conversation. That winter kind of conversation that is a cup of tea between two mittened hands, the fireplace blanket, the wooly reader. We spoke of: failed girls (what else?) and Adele, a haunting presence in O's recent work, we spoke of autism and white walls and yoga with the littles and stimulation, we spoke of rites of passage and women role models and raising daughters, we spoke of the cuteness of the avant-garde and adapted fairy tales. I'm loving the sort of conversation that percolates around current-projects. This, while it's just beginning, and this, while it's just ending: I'm on both sides. And talking about it, with someone who knows, is so, so intensely important--validating, invigorating, inspiring.
Also: This week I might be attending a very fantastic dinner, if all falls into place. Tingles.