Thursday, March 12, 2009

[Tour] Ferrum - Virginia

This day is so long it's almost difficult to remember it all. Bernard had to wake up at like 6 to follow Frank and help tape him as he spoke in front of a high school, but I got to sleep in. Even still, at the end of the night, I am exhausted. Bernard pointed out that our day was essentially that of a teacher. Something to think on. Oh and Bernard bought breathe-right strips. I really was okay, but that was very nice of him. I swear I wrote this of my own accord. haha.

So I met Bianca outside in the lobby, we talked about girl-guy drama, drank some lemon tea, and waited for Susan. She arrived and drove us to a coffee shop where I ordered the "We don't know what to call this, but it's good." It wasn't good. It was amazing. It took me like 10 minutes to fully figure this out, and how to eat it, but it was two kinds of cheese some kind of fried bread, a sweet bread, blueberries, two kinds of melon, strawberries, pecans, lettuce, and green chicken salad. We got cookies too (I got pecan).

Susan then drove us to Ferrum. Before I go on, I must say that Virginia is the most jaw droppingly beautiful state I've ever been in, even in the deadness of winter. And when the soil is dug up, it's red. Even more amazing against a bright green of grass.

Also a bit on Susan. I met her at Emery and Henry college when Frank read. She is a sociology professor who has her students use poetry, fiction, and visual art to learn about their subject. This means she engages them on many levels, she tries new things out, and they've been studying Pluck! and Black Box for some time now. Their current project, which we watched and talked with them about, were poster board collages of a famous black man or woman, haiku's about them, lists of snippets of information, and a traditional series of writings and works cited. It was really cool. Susan cares so much about getting to her students that she really gets upset when she can't reach everyone. And that is something very, very amazing.

Anyway, I set up the camera equipment like Bernard taught me and Bianca and I spoke with the students about their projects, what they had learned, listened to their poems, and then answered questions. The questions of the day (ones that were asked multiple times) were "How many Affrilachian poets are there?" (24), what is your inspiration, when did you start writing, and why do you write just poetry (we don't). The first class was just after lunch and a little quiet, but the next class, while smaller, was full of liveliness. It was fun.

Frank and Bernard came in during this time. After the class was over, they updated us. The high school Frank had promised to read three workshops of 20 ended up getting mixed up, or something, so he had to speak to something like 5 times that amount. But it's all good.

We all moved in to another classroom. This time we were asked questions pertaining to Frank’s book, which many of them had read, to whether or not we had ever felt we ‘crossed the line,’ and a super suspicious question about CP time made by a non-Susan faculty member, made all the more suspicious by the fact that we were not late.

We headed back to the hotel and rested for what felt like minutes but must have been seconds then headed back and read. Bianca tore it up, and Bernard owned the place just like the legends foretold. You know how Superman is a regular person on Krypton but the yellow sun gives him super powers on Earth? Ferrum is the yellow sun for Bernard.

We answered questions at the end, and Frank stepped out of the limelight into the shadows to let us show that we can handle things on our own. I swear, black men must go to a school for this because it’s a very familiar feeling. Haha.

After I sold about 8.5 billion copies of Bianca’s chapbook, a few of mine, and we had all taken some group photos, we could enjoy some of the food they supplied. Plus they wrapped us up a plate each, and Susan gave us glasses as a gift for coming, then invited us each back individually and as a whole. Above and beyond the call of duty.

We headed to Wal-Mart, because everything here closes at 9, and got some adult beverages (well, not me), lean pockets, and TGI spinach and artichoke dip, then hung out in Bianca’s room, which seems to be the most hospitable of our three rooms for whatever reason. After Frank left, we watched Jamie Fox on Youtube. Then we headed back and started working on poetry and blogs and all that good stuff.

Tomorrow, it might snow, and we have to wake up super early and read as soon as we get there. Plus, possibly no cell phone connection if I remember correctly. How will the bill collectors get in contact with me???

The writing prompt: “Who or what is waiting for you when you get back?”


At the door I remember

the first time I saw you


like a summer hat

in the store front.

How you found trouble

to wrestle to the ground,

your bag of wind to tame,

a horse

struggling ever deeper

into the grey sucking mud

at any sign of open arms.

I open the door

as I remember all this

and wonder

at what point

between then and now

did trips become so long

and when was it

that you

became home

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