My week in Seaside, Florida as a poetry fellow was spectacular! I would recommend this conference to all creative writers from beginning to advanced stages of your literary pursuits. I had such a memorable time swimming in the sea, reading the work of fellow writers on the beach, making wonderful new writer friends, and workshopping my poems. As an emerging poet and newly-published novelist, I was honored to read from Glassmusic at the local bookstore, help teach poetry in the local schools, and learn more (we can always learn more!) about the craft of writing from co-directors Seth Brady Tucker and Matt Bondurant.
I really enjoyed teaching writing to students in the neighborhood schools. Wow–they were respectful and articulate! I taught a poem from RYPA 2014, Rattle‘s first youth anthology, to an 8th grade class, and one of the students said something like “This poem is an existential inquiry.” The youth poet, Savion Harris, should be proud that his poem, “Questions,” elicited such an intelligent response. And the teachers at Seaside Neighborhood School should be proud of such remarkable students. After the brief craft talk, they worked on writing their own poems, and some of them didn’t want to stop. Teaching at Seacoast Collegiate High School along with poetry fellow Kimberly O’Connor was so much fun as well. We taught poems including “Allegro” by Tomas Tranströmer and “The Black Snake” by Mary Oliver. The students listened, asked great questions, and wrote their own poems. It was especially rewarding to hear students from both schools read from their work the final night of the conference, followed by a reading by headliner author Jacquelyn Mitchard.
In the Seaside Academic Village, we got to stay in our own, adorable single-unit cottages. Local market, restaurants, and food trucks provided plenty of great food & drink–especially, of course, seafood & mojitos!
Here are some additional photos, including ones of me reading and otherwise enjoying myself, from the Cultural Arts Alliance of Walton County, a local sponsor of the conference along with Sundog Books.