This is the second part of a three series blog. You can read the first part by clicking here.
Sunday was the first day of the poetry conference. Even though it didn’t kick off until 2:30, we set our alarms for 7 a.m. I attribute the fact the snooze about nine times to the barbecue and beer turning over in my gut all night. There was no real rush to get up early anyway, aside from continental breakfast. I can’t say no to free Belgian waffles. It’s a weakness.
We wanted to get cleaned up, check out KU’s campus and hit downtown Lawrence as early as possible. I’ve heard a lot of good things about used book stores and coffee shops. But, I also had to get psyched up for this poetry conference. While Belinda did her hair and makeup, I read some of the poems written by the attending poets that have been published in accessible, online e-journals and websites. After she got all dolled up, we hit the town.
The free coffee we had at the hotel was absolutely awful, so good Joe was our top priority. We stopped at an excellent little joint called Aimee’s Coffeehouse on Massachusetts Ave. We cruised a few shops. The architecture was really old and well maintained. I remember an outdoor store call Sunflower Outdoor & Bike. It had two levels, all hardwood and you could find anything you would at an REI: camping gear, hiking gear, climbing gear, kayaks, outdoor clothing and cycling equipment. I always hesitate to buy anything in an outdoor store because you can usually find the similar or better gear online at sites like http://www.altrec.com/ and http://www.sierratradingpost.com/ for boat loads cheaper. Regardless, the people were friendly and knowledgeable whether you wanted to buy anything or not.
I wish I could like to tell you we tackled the whole KU campus, but I would be lying. The campus was huge, and it was already early in the afternoon. We limited ourselves to a small section by the Spencer Museum Art, which is where the poetry conference started.
The name — a convergence of poets laureate — generally describes the idea behind the conference. For those of you who don’t what a poet laureate is, he or she is basically appointed by the state or national government to raise awareness about the reading and writing of poetry. This conference included 20 of those individuals, including the former United States Poet Laureate, Ted Kooser. For info about the attending poets, check out the Poet Laureati site. This event was design to raise awareness about poetry, and, specifically, to raise awareness for Executive Reorganization Order #39, which successfully and sadly abolished the Kansas Arts Commission effective July 1, 2011.
Belinda and I were taken on a tour of the art museum with New Hampshire poet laureate and Professor of Creative Writing at Goddard College, Walter Butts. He and I turned out to have a lot in common and discussed poetry and art extensively. We also exchanged emails. I’m currently exchanging poems with Walter, and I think he is going to be a valuable critic and friend in the future. After the tour, we got to hear some of the poets read from their published works, which was remarkable. I feel poetry is meant to be heard as well read, and what better voice to convey the poem than the poet?
After the reading, we mingled. I had to be up early again the next day for a full day of information sessions starting at 8 a.m., so Belinda and I went back to the hotel to read and get some rest. More on the Monday info sessions in the next blog.