Looking Forward, Looking Back

I'm excited to roadtrip with my mom out to Leesburg tonight and speak about "Projecting Your Voice on the Page." You know you've hit the big leagues when you make the Loudon Times Mirror

But I am also really looking forward to this weekend's visit to the Decatur Book Festival. Twice I have mentioned this to someone only to be immediately told "OH. I have an amazing story about Decatur Illinois." Which is great, but I'm going to the Decatur in Georgia--where I assure you, the restaurants will be hopping and the writers dancing. At least, I will be. 

These are the details of my event

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 4 ~  3:45 PM ~ Sandra Beasley 
Reading from Don't Kill The Birthday Girl: Tales From An Allergic Life
Decatur Conference Center Stage (Ballroom B)

I'm hoping to land in Atlanta on Saturday morning in time to have a quick lunch with Katia Hetter (a freelancer who interviewed me for this great piece she wrote for CNN.com), her daughter, and Michelle Kelly (owner of Pure Knead, one of the most allergy-friendly bakeries in the country). Then I might try to to catch the end of "The 21st Century South" panel with Jake Adam York, or else hear Karen Russell read from Swamplandia! Then I'll dash to hear the incredibly dynamic (and fellow New Issues poet) Jericho Brown read poems. And then...who knows? I will go where the day takes me. Plus, maybe have to check into my hotel at some point. 

I hear they have an honest-to-goodness Author Hospitality Suite with free beer, wine, and WiFi. Somebody pinch me. 

Anyway, that is all looking forward. But I also had cause to look back this week, when Ned Balbo--Baltimore resident, acclaimed poet, and husband of poet Jane Satterfield--sent me a snapshot from a recent visit to Virginia Center for Creative Arts. The photograph shows part of the bulletin board in one of the community artist kitchens out in the studio building...

Wow. That was from my first stay at VCCA, as a Cafritz Fellow for poetry. I was working on a series of formal poems about individual circus and carnival acts, inspired by a book of photographs from the turn of the century. This was not one of those poems; this would later find its way into my first collection, Theories of Falling. C. M. Mayo was my bathroom-mate. The youngest artist at the colony was an artist who had gone to my high school (a little weird, when you consider it was a high school for science and technology). We had a huge ice storm. We roasted marshmallows. The best person at building fires in the fireplace was Marianne Swierenga, who would a few years later turn out to be the managing editor at New Issues. I read with Alfred Corn. I took before-dawn walks with the "T.D." of the epigraph. I ate a lot of oatmeal and drank a lot of coffee. We found an abandoned school bus in an overgrown field. Leslie took a portrait of me blowing bubbles in the courtyard. I wrote and wrote. We played Scrabble. We knew our lives were changing by the day.

When I posted that draft on my last night at the colony, I assumed the bulletin board's contents were regularly turned over. I was used to the bulletin boards of college campuses--a blizzard of flyers in which something is always being covered or torn down. Yet there my little poem remains a half-dozen years later.