Friday, June 14, 2013

Memories and Anticipation: The Frost Place Conference on Poetry & Teaching

Next weekend, I'll be heading back to Franconia, New Hampshire, for the sixth or seventh year in a row, where I'll argue with rain and slugs and deerflies and woodchucks and mice for the privilege of sitting on a hard chair in Robert Frost's beautiful, austere barn and watching a circle of teachers and poets become devoted colleagues and friends.

This will be my first summer in charge of the Frost Place Conference on Poetry & Teaching, if one can use a bossy term like in charge for such an egalitarian event. And even though I am a little nervous about taking the reins into my own hands, I can't imagine the conference becoming anything other than what it has always been: life-changing, vocation-affirming, fear-reducing, yet demanding and invigorating. If you think I'm promoting some kind of New Age squashiness, think again. The entire conference is based around intellectual attention combined with a kind of communal patience. It is a miraculous combination--not least because it is both predictably comforting and unexpectedly exciting. Every year I learn new approaches to teaching, new rationales for idealism, new ways to read a poem, new secrets about balancing quotidian life with the rigors of art. I come away exhausted but refreshed, time and time again.

We have a lively contingent of teachers slated to arrive next weekend, and they're coming from all over the United States. Some teach in vocational schools, some in prep schools; some are elementary teachers while others are college professors. Some have been teaching for decades; others are just beginning to think of themselves as teachers. If you've got a last-minute hankering to join us, let me know right away. Our definition of teacher is broad--encompassing actual classroom teachers, people who run writing or humanities workshops, people who don't currently teach but imagine the possibility of doing so, people who love poetry, people who dread poetry, etc., etc.

If you find yourself in the Franconia area, you are welcome to attend any of our readings, which are always free and open to the public. All begin at 7:30 p.m. and are held in the Henry Holt Barn at the Frost Place Museum. Here's our schedule:
June 23: Teresa Carson
June 24: Terry Blackhawk
June 25: Jeff Kass
June 26: Dawn Potter and conference participants
June 27: George Drew and Baron Wormser
I look forward to sitting on the front porch with you and watching the stars glitter and the bats wheel over the blue shadow of the mountains.

1 comment:

Ruth said...

I can't wait!!!! Again I'll be walking to class via the Poetry Trail. This is THE BEST experience. I have such dear friends from all of these summers.