The weirdest Summer of my professional career came to a surreal close this past weekend as I attended the Writer's Digest Annual Conference as a speaker and journalist rather than the publisher and marketing director who curated ~80% of the event before my departure in early July. I'm obviously still biased, but overall, it was an invigorating experience—from the amazing keynotes and insightful presenters, to the mini-reunion with some of my all-time favorite colleagues, all survivors of F+W Media's disastrous bankruptcy process that seems to have ended relatively well... for Writer's Digest, at least.
Don't be fooled / by the cul de sac / the gingerbreading / the German engineering
The slam isn't the automatic audience draw it used to be (for us, at least), and I can't help but wonder if that's partly because, a long time ago, the organized slam became much less about putting on a good show for the audience and providing an open forum for a variety of voices, and more about establishing an alternative career path for a select group of poets. The revolution gone corporate, as so often happens.
As a married father of two who has long struggled with finding the right balance that allows for enough time to write, I was disappointed by the absence of voices that resembled my own experience, and was inspired to do something about it. And so, “Writer Dads” was conceived and, finally, born.
The original version of the poem, written back in 2003, was entitled Mozer, Bethea and I (as published in Handmade Memories), and it had a ranty, overly political ending that tried to be a little too clever and felt like a different poem from the opening, I tightened it all up, including a bit more nuance in Mozer's section, while heavily revising the closing to end up with what I think is a far stronger, more personal, more relatable work. Veteran's Day isn't a time for generic sentiments, positive or negative, but a time for personal reflection. I'm generally ambivalent about my time in the military because I met far too many people who defied easy stereotypes of what it means to be pro- or anti-war, and I've always had nothing but respect for anyone who has served, not to mention a fair bit of curiosity about why they did so.