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Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson

Thankful for Colrain Conference

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.

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