Monday, August 27, 2012

Back from Bread Loaf

View from an adirondack chair overlooking the meadow

I agree with Penny Edwards who joked on the last day at Bread Loaf that while the conference was filled with writers, we kept failing to adequately describe our experience. Participants kept describing the 10 days as “great.”

And it’s true: Bread Loaf was great and somehow hard to describe. A few days later, my head is still spinning with ideas and suggestions for revision, new poems, and reading.

A typical day: Throughout the day, there was a craft talk, workshop, a meeting with an editor or someone from my workshop (the instructor or a fellow) and many readings. I usually found some time for some online teaching and email each day, as well as drafting new poems and starting to revise individual poems. I took walks on the nearby paths and sat facing the sun on a meadow in an Adirondack chair. There was something to do until late into the night every night.

There were bonfires and impromptu readings. There were barn dances and a hayride, not to mention a bar in the barn most evenings. There was star gazing. There were outdoor receptions at sunset and a tour of Robert Frost’s writing cabin. There were picnics and delicious meals three times a day at the Inn.

Perhaps most importantly, there were many discussions about what we’ve read, what we’re working on and craft issues. We debated and encouraged each other. The brochure promised life-long friends and, well, many of these folks have lodged themselves into my heart. Where else do printed promises come true?

Each day seemed long, since there was so much happening, and short, since suddenly it the ten days had passed. And now those ten days are impossibly over.

Thank goodness for electronic communication. Some of us are working to organize a local D.C. – area list in order to be able to get together to chat, workshop, attend readings, and maybe give a reading. Let us know if you’re in the area and interested in joining our informal group.

You can hear this year’s, and past, readings and lectures online.

For a thorough review of this year's conference, read Michael Bourne's article, Keeping the Faith: Ten Days at Bread Loaf. Lisa Ampleman blogs about her experience for the Cincinnati Review, and both Margaret DeAngelis and Laura Maylene Walter remember their time at Bread Loaf on their author blogs.

Scroll down for more photos.

Sunset over the meadow

There were butterflies everywhere (thanks to Shradha Shah for this picture)

Inside Frost's cabin

View from the Inn's porch

1 comment:

Chloe Yelena Miller said...

Thanks to Shradha Shah for her comment:

My experience at Bread Loaf involved long periods of sitting in a lone Adirondack chair looking out towards the Green Mountains, or romping through the valley or along the path through the meadow towards the dark wood. I needed the space to allow for adequate fermentation / percolation or whatever food metaphor works best. Since it is 'bread loaf' perhaps like yeast, some of what happened at Bread Loaf, involved baking, being baked (though not with a joint). I, unlike my roommate, did not do any writing, ignored work and other emails, and barely managed to compose a quick text or too. I think I was going through the necessary undoing of my poems or ideas about writing and poetry. I haven't embarked yet upon the building phase. I think I'm still being undone by Bread Loaf.

As Chloe and I remarked after the first day, we needed a month after each day to put lessons we learned into action. So now after ten days I have about a year of work ahead to me.