Monday, October 03, 2016

OMP! (Oh My Poetry!) - Thoughts After WWU's Inaugural Poetry Camp

I am just back from Western Washington University's first ever Poetry Camp for Adults. It was awesome. I can't talk all the highlights, so I've picked the three that are tied in my head as "tops."

1) 38 poets!!!! On Friday, the day before the conference, 38 poets (camp counselors?) who have been part of the Pomelo Books Poetry Friday Anthologies gathered together to talk all sorts of things poetry-y. I've been to a lot of conferences and met a lot of poets, but his was a whole 'nother beast. And it was better than good. I'd met a few folks there before, and it was great to see them again. But there were mannnny who I only knew from email and social media and getting to meet in person was fantastic. It seemed impossible to top, really.

Poetry Camp Signage Tells What It Takes to Write Poetry

2) Except that on Saturday, it was the Poetry Camp itself, and there were 150 of us there... poetry lovers of all ilk. It was teachers and librarians - those who champion poetry and get poetry in front of kids. It was writers and parents and students. And it was so unbelievably satisfying that instead of being drained after a day of breakouts and keynotes, I was energized and excited and grateful. It would be hard to imagine anything matching the feeling... except the day before. And then...

3) Jack Prelutsky! I had never had the opportunity to see Jack Prelutsky perform, and I thought that would remain the case since he has retired from visits and the like. But the Poetry Camp got him to come. He was fantastic. He owned the room - all us kids from the age of 2 to 102 were eating out of his hand. It was like he had never taken a day off, let alone years off - singing, reciting, voicing, laughing, storytelling, playing guitar. It was the perfect end to the Camp.

I give my huge thanks to everyone who created and organized and volunteered and attended. More specifically, thanks to Syvlia Tag and Nancy Johnson at WWU who made this first time conference feel like it had been established forever. Plus they shuttled us poets around, as needed, going beyond the call.

And finally... huge hat tips and huzzahs to Sylvia Vardell and Janet Wong for inviting me (and all of us), creating the Poetry Friday Anthologies, helping build our community, and celebrating poetry wherever they go. Thanks to all of y'all for including me in this weekend. I hope there are many others like it in the future!

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