A note from the yard and part one of my report from the 2012 Hampton Roads Writers Conference

My first day back from the writing conference is sunny and cool, a perfect day to spend in the yard. I had planned to run straight to my office this morning, but the day is too beautiful to ignore.

Each bed of ginger lilies began the summer with several small praying mantises. Now each harbors a single large praying mantis. I don’t know if the survivors killed their competitors or forced them out. Perhaps they shift territories from day to day and I never find the same individual more than once. But it seems logical, to me, that the one above (photographed on September 7th) lives full-time in the small ginger lily bed, while the one below (photographed today) conquered the larger, corner bed.

However it works, I’m hoping there will be praying mantis egg cases by winter.

Report from the 2012 Hampton Roads Writers Conference, Part One

In the past three years, many of my fellow poets and writers have attended the Hampton Roads Writers conference. I decided to see it for myself this year.

The conference opened Thursday evening and ran through Saturday. Presenters included literary agents, journalists, professors, editors, publishers, and a wide range of authors. All three agents held ten-minute pitch sessions and participated in panel discussions during which they critiqued a series of first-ten-line submissions. The conference also offered three free writing contests (fiction, non-fiction, and poetry) with mid-summer deadlines.

My poem “On Fossil Links That Cannot Speak” placed second in The Barbara Dunn Hartin Memorial Poetry Prize. Barbara Dunn Hartin was a longtime member of the Albright Poets and a dear friend. When her son called my name yesterday, I floated to the front of the room through a fog of tears, speechless and overwhelmed. The certificate shook in my hands as I heard her laughter in the room’s echoes and saw her sparkling eyes in every face. It was a magical conclusion for the conference.

(Except it wasn’t quite the end. After my award, two other Albright Poets won prizes for their creative non-fiction!)