If there's several thousand people there, how do you manage to have personal conversations with such great poets? Are you very bold, or does that mean you have "arrived" as a poet?
The Dodge Poetry Festival venues are set up so that there are one-one-one sessions, group sessions with three or four poets, and larger readings in the main stage tent, either 30-minute readings by one poet or 30 poets reading for 5 minutes each. The events outside of the main stage tent can hold 200-500 people at a time.
The great thing about Dodge is that the poets make themselves accessible. For instance, I ran into Sharon Olds when she first arrived for yesterday's session (she's a former teacher of mine), and Robert Hass I caught in the book tent. Martín Espada I spoke with briefly after his reading. Also, most sessions, whether they are readings or conversations with poets, leave time for questions and answers.
I don't know if I'm bold (and I certainly haven't arrived), but I make it a point to speak with as many people as I can at these events. I’m not one to pass up an opportunity like this. Besides, I love talking about poetry and, in particular, the Dodge Poetry Festival. Here, I can talk about poetry and be understood without any explanation. And it gives me a chance to listen to powerful, thoughtful words and ideas among people who practice the craft that I depend upon for my very survival. I can’t put a finer point on that.
Blogging about it is my way of sharing this experience, which is nothing short of life-affirming every time I attend.
Thanks for the questions and comments. Keep ’em coming!