I cannot give you the full story of three days spent in the company of 8,000 writers in Denver. But the people I heard read: Cornelius Eady, Matthew Zapruder, Jean Valentine, B. H. Fairchild, Joy Harjo, Diane Wakoski, eight other writers from Plain View Press (my publisher for The Great Hunger), Richard Jackson, Kathryn Winograd, Rita Dove, Anne Waldman, Gary Snyder, Gregory Orr, Pattiann Rogers, Robert Hass, Terry Tempest Williams (twice), Rick Bass (twice), William Kittredge, Allison Adelle Hedge Coke, Martin Espada, Toi Derricotte, Ray Gonzalez, Debra Busman and others.
As I had anticipated, I was tired and wired by the end of Sunday evening. As one of my companions said, we didn't know whether to give up in the face of all that excellence or dash home and hit the writing desk. I still have to finish sorting all the fliers and postcards and sample copies, to read and savor the latest book (signed!) by Wakoski, and find a prominent place for a new reference book. This morning's journal includes a list of things to do for promoting my own work, and a longer list of pleasures and responsibilities that attached or reattached themselves to the role of writer--building community, respecting the work of other writers, staying aware of the world outside the book. Espada's voice will stay in my head, and Bass's telling me that we have to be active, we have to connect, to use our skill with words to engage whoever will listen, and to do our work so well that others will want to hear.