Back from Austin
Austin is what Texas would be like if radical Christians didn't suck--in short, it's what Texas should be like all the time.
Here's a little fact I don't cop to very often--I'm a native Texan. I was born in Houston and lived in the netherworld between Houston and San Antonio until I was about 7. We moved around a lot--by the time I started second grade in Louisiana, I was in my 4th school, and before I started school, I'd lived in at least a half dozen small towns (including Shiner, TX, home of Shiner Bock beer). I don't remember most of them, which is why I tend to think of Louisiana as home--I lived there until I was 30, when I left for grad school.
Texas gets a lot of shit from liberals--and with good reason, most of the time--but Austin is a haven of the best of liberalism. Creativity, acceptance, a love of art, music, and good food, friendly people, and an unwillingness to bow to the corporate sameness that infects so much of our present culture. No Disneyfication going on there.
As for my panel, it went over well. I'll be posting my presentation on the home page as soon as I get my own computer back--no Dreamweaver on Monkey's. I think I was the most practiced speaker of everyone in my group, except perhaps for Xochi, and part of that, no doubt, comes from extensive time in front of a classroom. The only joke that bombed was my Republican one, and I think that's because the audience didn't realize that Austin is not Sugarland or Dallas or Midland.
The leader of our panel, Emily Rosko, also did a reading with other people involved with the University of Iowa Press. Her book, Raw Goods Inventory, is now available, and I highly recommend it. I'll be using selections from it in my Interpretations of Poetry class in the coming weeks.
I had mixed feelings about this trip the closer it got. I don't generally get along with other writers--too many large and fragile egos to deal with--but I think I did this one right way. In and out quickly, like a duck mating. I got to see a number of people I hadn't seen in a while, mostly positive, and was reminded just how many poets are writing right now, and how wide the competition is. I'll be sending out a ton of submissions in the next couple of weeks.