I spent this past weekend in Milledgeville, Georgia, as a visiting writer at the Arts & Letters festival. I read a few poems to a few people, met some interesting students, and ate numerous free dinners. Martin Lammon, director of the MFA program at Georgia College and editor of Arts & Letters, is perhaps the most generous fellow in Georgia.
As a friend informed me before my trip, Flannery O’Connor (Milledgeville’s most famous resident) once said: “When in Rome, do as you done in Milledgeville,” but it’s not so bad. I got to stay at the Antebellum Inn and take baths in a claw foot tub in the middle of the bedroom. I got to see the farm house where Flannery lived and wrote, as well as an impressive peacock and some peahens who claimed to know her, though I doubt their story. I also got to meet some amazing writers: Dwight Holing, Jim McKelly, and Juliet Patterson, a poet who won the A & L nonfiction prize. You should read about her and her work here. Actually, you should read all of their work in Arts & Letters (where you can also read essays by Corinne Manning and Kyle Minor).
The entire trip served as an oasis of validation in the desert of clerical work and longing for a literary community that makes up the majority of my current life. Who knew I would miss the MFA?
I did not take one damn photo, except of Doug eating a quesadilla, but that happens every week.
To make up for my lack of photos, I’d like to share some Alice Friman with you. Alice is Poet-in-Residence at GCSU, and she was the judge who selected my poems. A few things I learned about Alice when I met her on this trip: she is funny, she has scandalous stories about other poets, and though she’s a New Yorker, she used to live in Dayton, Ohio, my birthplace (the coincidence of Ohio follows me everywhere — Martin Lammon is also from Ohio, go figure).
You can read Alice all over the place, but I recommend the following two links to start. The first poem on this page, “Another Spring,” conveys her character (as I sensed it) well, but some of my favorite lines come from “Seeing It Through”: “All things come around / replete with rage and rattle.”