This was not my first trip to Milwaukee … but my third. The first time was in 2003 for the Women and Creativity Conference at Marquette and the second time was to see Sonic Youth in a big dark lounge (it was so hot only the poetic luring of SY would have kept me around). And the third time was this recent trip … to go again to the Women and Creativity conference.
The tavern that became my friend and I’s hang out for the week, Von Triere, was truly wonderful. But the conference? I kept thinking … So what’s the point? What’s the point of men and women possessing the common goal of scholarship and enrichment in the women’s studies field if no one pushes the envelope all the while taking themselves as seriously as a heart attack?
Writers and academics like to hear themselves talk … of course. This is not a surprise since writers and academics seem to be lonelier people and often seem to always be working on something. And after thinking about something, researching it, and writing about it, one has a desire to share it. I have written another paper about the role of wife in Robert Lowell’s Life Studies since the Bellmer one. Of course I want to share it with an audience … conferences are a great place for that.
This same conference in 2003 was interesting and enriching, the talks causing a discussion, even some fury at times. That is a GOOD THING! This year’s was dry, seemingly pointless, and full to the hilt with women seeming not to be having that much-desired scholarly dialogue, but feeling instead the sickening and insatiable need to one-up each other. It was very disillusioning … and my reading from Small Murders was simply … weird. As I was reading … deadpan faces that appeared to give a shit were followed by I really liked your poems at the “reception.” What? Could’ve fooled me! I sold one book (better than zero) … to a Reverend. That merely added to the ever increasing strangenesses of the conference.
But Milwaukee was truly wonderful and to be there with my best friend Anna made it even better. I am on a mission in finding 312 beer in Kalamazoo. We shall see.
As far as what I am reading … the usual of course (Berryman, Lowell). But for fiction I am reading Clown Girl by Monica Drake. I will no doubt finish it in the next day or so and have to discuss it here. FYI to Palahniuk fans … he does the Introduction to the book. He writes that Drake was a part of his 1991 Portland writers group that took place in someone’s kitchen. Monica should be very proud of his very admiring words regarding her writing. I am almost halfway through and I am not at all disappointed. Go Monica! For nonfiction I am reading The Unquiet Mind by Kay Redfield Jamison.
I am spent with this day … ta da! (that’s a Monica Drake homage!)