By Alex Raley
Great conference. Well organized. Good presenters. Wonderful critiquers.
Jeanne Leiby is a certifiable personality, vivacious, but to the point. She critiqued my short story from a fully edited manuscript. I knew she had read every cotton-picking word. Leiby even googled some information to check on the year I used for an event. She thought I used a wrong year. Of course, she was correct. Her remarks were helpful, and she did all of this without making me feel I was not a writer.
Forrest Gander pulled no punches within his calm personality. One is immediately relaxed with him. He had copious notes on all six of the poems I sent him. Again, I knew he had read and considered every word. He occasionally put a line beside a passage and wrote simply, “Alex.” I can still hear him say, "Alex, Alex, do you really think we will let you get away with this after those two strong opening verses?" This was a nice way to point out what he thought was strong and what he thought was weak. I definitely will be working to create those stronger images.
I must say that my day was made when someone walked up to me and told me how much a poem I read on open mike had meant to him. The catcher? I read the poem three or four years ago.
Conferencing is fun and helpful. I highly recommend it.