March 30, 2012

Split This Rock -- The People

Thurgood Marshall Center
One of the joys of this Split This Rock Festival that is beyond the price of admission is meeting, & re-meeting, & then talking with other participants, presenters or audience -- we are all poets here. I’ve been to all 3 of these Festivals & my circle of friends has grown & grown. Even if it is 2 years since I’ve seen them, when I meet a friend from a past Split This Rock Festival it is with great joy & warmth, a hug, a kiss, & a big smile. That's what I'm here for, as much for the conversation, the words.

This year there was yet another Albany poet hanging out at Split This Rock, Carolee Sherwood. Our tastes in panels & workshops were decidedly different so we didn't share much, but we enjoyed the readings in the evenings together, had lunch a couple of times at Busboys & Poets, & an occasional drink in the evening.  I hope she enjoyed it even half as much as I did.

Sarah Browning, Executive Director
Another poet with a looser connection to Albany was Yael Flusberg, a DC resident & member of the Board of Directors who combines writing & yoga in her work & has many (woman) friends in the Capital District through the IWWG.  I had attended Yael’s workshop on yoga & poetry at the first Split This Rock. Susan Brennan was back this year; she had read poetry in her younger days in Albany at the QE2, still has family in the area & read in Poets in the Park in 2008. Another Poets in the Park reader (in 2009) who I ran into & had dinner with, & with Carolee, was Lori Desrosier, the editor & publisher of Naugatuck River Review. And there was Kazim Ali who as an undergraduate student at the University at Albany (then called SUNY Albany) read in Don Levy’s poetry series at the Albany Art Gallery on Jefferson St.

Jill Brazel doing her job.
Sharing images with my favorite ripped-knees photographer, my Canon-comrade from Chicago, Jill Brazel, has been a tradition for these Festivals -- we take pictures of each other year after year (is there a clinical psychological term for that?).

Of course there are the fabulous & beautiful folks who worked/work so hard to bring this Festival together each year, & who I am so glad to see every-other year: Sarah Browning, Melissa Tuckey, Alicia Gregory, Bob LaVallee, Jaime Lee Jarvis, & others from the Board & Planning Committee (Thanks for another great Festival).

Rachel McKibbens, Melissa Tuckey, Susan Brennan
& the folks I have met here for the first time & who knows when (if ever) I will see again, George from Madison, WI & Sonja de Vries, who I shared dinner with here back in 2010, from Kentucky (& who brought her sister his year), & countless others whom I flirted with at the bar at Busboys & Poets, or met at a workshop or reading or just hanging out waiting for someone to sign a book.  I'll see you in 2014.

Then there were the famous poets where we share a connection: Sam Hamill with my friend Charlie Rossiter in Chicago, Patricia Smith whom I interviewed in Albany, NY at Poets in the Park, Douglas Kearney who was snowed out from a reading in Albany, Georgia Popoff who was an early supporter of 3 Guys from Albany, & the countless others we really want to sit down with over beer or coffee & just talk & talk.

Words come from people & what we do is connect to people & so the words connect & the people connect & that's why we do this. Right?

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