In June I participated in a Colrain Conference in Truchas, New Mexico. The Colrains, organized and directed by Joan Houlihan, occur several times a year in different locations around the country and focus on putting together and publishing a book-length collection of poetry. Attending this event was one of my best decisions.
Attendees were to come with book-in-hand, plus a chapbook version, groups of poems we could/couldn’t live without and a list of alternative titles. While preparing, I realized that I didn’t like the book I thought I had been writing for several months – which was why I couldn’t finish/submit it. I completely changed my theme and was desperately re-writing and re-organizing until the day before I left. I liked the outcome.
The conference ran Friday evening through Monday morning on the High Road to Taos, a world of green in the midst of mountains. My primary mentors were Ellen Dore Watson and Rusty Morrison. I also got to meet Hilda Raz. And, as I expected, I learned from the other participants. Nothing is as naked as art. One of my poems, hotly debated by my group, was titled “Sacred Shadows.” I felt like this is what we shared.
Since coming home I have been reading and writing like I haven’t been able to for over a year. I finally know the questions I am trying to ask and answer. Rusty talked about ‘panic’ and how our risks need to unsettle us. We are afraid both of writing – but more of NOT writing. Her essay about panic on her website [RustyMorrison.com] is worth the read. And if you get the chance, a Colrain is worth every penny and every bit of effort. There is one coming up in September on Whidbey Island.