Alas, I had to admit that I am a white woman, though I did point out in my application that I am not always nice and am not a blind Woolf adorer: I like Elizabeth Bowen's novels more than Woolf's, and I think Henry Green's best work is at least equivalent in quality. But of course VW has her own special cachet, not so different from Sylvia Plath's. Tragedy and illness do not a great artist make, but they do sometimes make a great artist's reputation.
But back to my surprise about being asked to participate in the conference. Call it class anxiety, but I know I worry too much about the intellectual value of my work. I have spent all my life on the scholarship periphery--as daughter, daughter-in-law, academic editor, and obsessive reader of the canon. Yet I have never taken a graduate class, let alone attained a graduate degree; and my reading and writing interests are notably self-absorbed rather than objective quests for information. So being invited to read at this conference, even as a rather low-level presenter, feels remarkably strange to me. I mean, maybe real college professors will sit in a room and listen to me try to explain how and why I wrote a poem based on the name of a character in VW's Mrs. Dalloway; how the invention of my character was not a reworking of her existing character but arose from the happenstance of sound and impression; how, for a poet, language carries a weight of longing that can impel new creation.
Of course I hope I will manage to say this all more clearly when I get there.
Dinner tonight: I'm presently making beef-bone-and-porcini-mushroom stock, and I may use it as the base for some sort of risotto. I'm also thinking of making a caramelized-apple tart, but maybe the lure of college basketball will be too strong to resist and I won't "have time" for any fancy baking.