Thursday, March 20, 2008


Day Seven of the writing residency finds us all sated with words and metaphors, and of no use to ourselves nor anyone in the outside world. This is grad school, yes, and in one way we are working our intellectual asses off—but in another way it’s summer camp for grownups, and no one wants to go home. We are punch-drunk, laughter far too close to the surface, and exhausted with people. We hate to waste one potentially fun or meaningful minute. We’re careful not to make eye contact with those who might make us laugh, in these close quarters. Still we begin to dig up flight schedules, to consider the three days left.

At nearly midnight, I’m in bed far earlier than last night, though a party up the hill will last late into the night. This is the first of the Poetry Reading nights, and after a wonderful set of readings by faculty (though I’m not a poet, these never fail to please me), we retired first to a large gathering for dramatic readings of Crab Artichoke Dip Haiku, then walked through a downpour to a small cottage where an Alaskan poet procured large casseroles of warm Crab Artichoke Dip.

Last night I arrived back in my room just about midnight, as well, when the clouds broke and a three-quarter moon shone brightly, a large ring circling round. I knocked on Alissa’s door, noting the bar of light underneath, and she agreed: beach walk. The foaming waves were lit bright enough to walk by the moon without flashlights. When we returned, I hoped to write a quick moon-note to Scott, to tell him if he were here, I would pull him from bed and make him walk all night—but the internet connection was down, and it has stayed down throughout the day.

I believe I saw enough of the Olympic Range to feel satisfied today, perhaps four-fifths clear and the rest only a little hazy. My classmates know I’m on the hunt for the fullest possible sighting of these mountains, and I am sun-deprived, so they announce to me each shift of the weather and each break between classes, (say, between one hour of Flannery O’Connor and the next hour of Brett Lott’s lecture on… Flannery O’Connor) and make pathways for me to run out and see. I get weepy at the smallest glimpse of these snow-covered peaks in the distance.

I hope to have a minute tomorrow to write about visiting faculty Patricia Hampl, and perhaps to write a little more about the work I’m doing. But it is time to collapse. One of the poetry faculty asked if we were “Whidbeyfied,” which might mean crammed airless into a tall can with a red and white label, under enormous pressure, a confection ready to spray whipped cream onto the nearest open hand, as soon as anyone asks how my week has been. It’s going to take a little aim and a little practice, not to explode.

I’m not ready to practice yet, though. I have three days left, and much to do. After sleep.

1 comment:

Amy said...

I'm just getting a chance to catch up on my reading about your reading and writing and being, in a beautiful place. I'm glad it's been going so well, Denise--enjoy these last 3 days. And remember: the Festival is less than a month away!