While compliling my report for the EC, these rather more personal moments came to mind. I list them here for my poor memory's benefit as much as your entertainment, the wonderful, terrible and surreal moments of iWPS 2006: <!--break-->
I went to the park with Terry Creech on Thursday. If you missed it, it's called "The Green" and it is a small stretch of grass that seems like heaven in a sea of asphalt. It's a "literary" park. There are street signs that point to cities that add up to authors names, and word puzzles in the bricks. The entrance off College street has two towering bronze statues depicting giant stacked books, the highest of which are open, flinging pages into the sky. These pages can be found around the park. Clinging to light poles, resting on the grass, blown around corners. These are not pages from Don Quixote, or Crime and Punishment, or any of the giant books in the stacks. The pages hold poems written by middle school students. How fitting a way to begin the week, for me to read these poems.
I didn't get a chance to enter any of the bouts, busy as I was. I spent most of the bout time in the center common area, sitting at one of the tables in front of the Duke theater. Upstairs in one of the Education Rooms was a choir, practicing. They were difficult to hear. When I first noticed them they were singing Handel's Messiah. During the late bout, I noticed them again, but could not place the song for a moment. It took a few bars for me to realize they were singing an ensemble version of Billy Joel's "Movin' Out". I had no idea there were "Bosom Buddy" fans in Charlotte.
I got to hang out with Eric Darby for a long time on Friday. It irritates me that I didn't hang out with him more when he lived a few miles from me. Darby, you are bad ass.
You kind of have to be an asshole sometimes. Poets are outgoing, funny people, who do not often take well to being ordered around. I made a few of them jump in the dressing rooms when I pulled out the instructor voice. Sorry about that.
I have not always agreed with Jared Paul's methods but we have always seen eye to eye. On Friday, he told me how great a time he had at the bar Thursday night, how there were no "knuckleheads" there. We talked about the lacking merits of these knuckleheads for a moment. Then he said something really kind to me. Thanks for that Jared.
Cristin, Kim and I decided to hold the final round scores until the end to dramatize it a bit for the audience. A skill Cristin picked up from the Urbana finals. As a result, no one backstage knew about any time penalties. After the last poem, I went to grab the scores from Adriana, and found out about the penalty. After Ramirez assured me the times were right, I went back to where the poets were. They were all congratulating Joaquin. I had watched Joaquin call his wife and family after the first two rounds to tell them he had made it. There are times when you wish you could just give the job to some one else, and that was one. Rather than let him find out while standing on stage, I grabbed him and whispered in his ear about the time. He slumped a little when I told him. That's all I want to say about that.
One more, then I have to go to bed. Well after the finals, after too few fine pints of Stella at the Fox and Hound, I found myself in the elevator with Dawn Saylor, 2 young men poets, and one young woman poet. I don't know who they were. Now I have to tell you, Dawn kicked ass as an MC. She had a missing bout box the first night, and still started before anyone else. I think her first time MCing was in ABQ, and she handled it like she had been MCing since Seattle. So, it's 3 AM on Sunday, and we are in the elevator of the hotel with these young poets. We are talking about how great it has been until we hit Dawn's floor. She gives me a big hug and (an innocent) kiss goodbye, and runs off. The girl looks at me and says, "She is so cool". The taller kid looks me in the eye and says, "You are so cool," and the last kid looks longingly after Dawn and sighs, "She kissed ME once." I just smile until the 10th floor thinking,"wait until next year", and go to bed.
How sweet is iWPS, and NPS for that matter ? Is that the way these things always go for you ?