Having just returned home from the fall conference of the North Carolina Writers Network (only to leave again the next morning), I have a head full of great workshops and readings, great writing ideas, a stack of books to read, and a reminder why poetry still matters. The conference held in Asheville was a perfect setting for Jane and me to share our call for submissions for the Well-Versed Reader, since so many of our favorite poets were there.
One of the few complaints I heard (other than the usual variation of themes on thermostat) came during the evening open mic readings, held in three different rooms: "Why have they separated the poets?!"
Fiction write Lee Smith opened the conference with a reading on Friday evening and presented a workshop session on Saturday. Former NC Poet Laureate Kathryn Stripling Byer was featured at Saturday's luncheon, beginning with her beautiful, timely poem "Mountain Time," which moves from pessimism about the state of and future for poetry to a lovely quilting metaphor.
Two themes thrummed under the surface of so much I heard this past weekend: Words Matter. Stories Matter. That's why poets write and why readers read. That's exactly why we hope to bring the two together.