On the plane out, we sat two rows and across the aisle from Carl Phillips, Meryl's workshop leader. He has runner's legs, was reading prose and occasionally from the workshop packet.
When we arrived we stayed overnight with some of Meryl's old friends, off the grid, in a sense, and I found myself in love with wild blackberries and wanting to hear an owl.
This afternoon, we checked in--we are room mates, my good MFA friend and I, and are staying in the Annex this year, a room in the corner right above the bookstore, which is always dangerous for someone like me.
We had dinner, learned to navigate the system with as a vegan (Meryl will now go into the kitchen every day to see what the chefs have prepared), and after, the opening welcome, followed by a reading by Linda Gregerson (love, love, love) and Jim Shepard, who came to campus last September. You can see how beautifully Gregerson speaks:
She read from a series of poems about Dido, which really was gorgeous ("Dido Refuses to Speak," forthcoming in The Kenyon Review), and I was reminded as she read more and more, how deeply I love her images and her verbs. I devoured all the books of hers I owned just before the conference and am certain I will return to them again not long after returning.
** I will add photographs from each day on my return, I think, as I have tragically lost my camera battery charger and want to get through the ten days with a full string of photographs.
Tracy K. Smith Visits Chinaby Harriet Staff
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