Sunday, September 19, 2010

Salem Lit Fest Recap

The Salem Lit Fest ROCKED!

On Saturday, Erin Dionne and Kat Black gave an excellent talk on the writer's life at Cornerstone Books. They talked about their efforts to write and market for the young adult audience. They've been able to use social media to reach different market segments, from librarians to book groups. It was fascinating to hear how they keep projects moving while working full time and maintaining a family life. Lots to relate to in this talk.

Later in the afternoon, I made it to the Quick Fiction: Utter Amazement session. It lived up to its name--a rapid fire pace of story after story after story. Unfortunately, the Gulu-Gulu Cafe was incredibly loud with the restaurant sounds and a screen door in need of WD-40. Still, all of the writers gave us samples of some of the best short fiction being published today. I especially enjoyed Steve Almond's reading (more on Steve in a separate post), and William Walsh's story "Stephen King." Go visit Quick Fiction online and experience the awesomeness (that's right, I said awesomeness!).

And now, I must sing the praises of friend and poet Jennifer Jean. She planned not one, not two, but three poetry events--all of which had packed houses.

The first was an event at Cornerstone Books called Thursday on Saturday, the weekend version of Jennifer's series Thursday Theatre of Words and Music. She and co-founder Laurette Folk welcomed Fishwives Music, based on Jennifer's Fishwives Tales poems; Jack Scully, who read poems by the late Mike Amado; and I stepped in to read for poet Mignon Ariel King, who was unable to attend. After a break, there was an open mic filled with very emotional, well-crafted works. I left Cornerstone's feeling satisfied.

If the fest had ended there, I would have been happy. But, Sunday's events took it to another level.

Admittedly, I had low expectations for Sunday's attendance. I mean, who comes out Sunday at 10 a.m. to hear poetry? But I was wrong, thank goodness. How can you go wrong with members of the Salem Writers Group: Kevin Carey, Claire Keyes, Colleen Michaels, me, Dawn Paul, and Vanessa Ramos. We are The Dream Team ... well ... at least in my dreams.

In The Life of the Poem, each of us discussed how one of our poems made it to publication. The nice part was that there was a loose definition of "published." We told stories about how our drafts were conceived, revised, and given life as video, art instillation, contest winner, and published in print and online. I learned things in this session I didn't know about my fellow poets. Very cool.

Event #2 was Poets in the Round. Wish I had recorded the event. After one poet read, the next person read a piece related to the previous poem. We make tenuous connections that seemed to somehow flow seamlessly. I found myself reading sex poems at 10:30 a.m.--go figure. It's not easy reading unplanned poems but it worked. Remarkably, it worked.

Even if it was just us reading for 2.5 hours, I knew it would be fun. We just went with it, and that made all the difference.

I'm exhausted, yet filled with an indescribable feeling from this weekend. The 2010 Salem Lit Fest was a great success. And it lays the groundwork for all the amazing poetry events coming up: Dodge, the Mass Poetry Festival at the Boston Book Fest, AWP DC, and the 2011 Mass Poetry Festival.


Jessie Carty said...

Sounds great! Especially the poetry in the round :) I participated in something to that once and it was great fun!

January said...

Thanks Jessie. It was a lot of fun.

And,Dawn Paul talked about her Shape of a Box video. She talked about you and her video poem in her Life of the Poem presentation. I'll post Dawn's video in a few days. Very cool.

Jessie Carty said...

Oh can't wait to see the video! Dawn's collaboration for Shape is still one of my favorites :)


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