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Monday, October 17, 2011

Japan Writers Conference Report

Last weekend was the 2011 Japan Writers Conference in Kobe (my fair city), and I was pleased to attend the Sunday session. Unfortunately, family demands kept me from going on Saturday, so I missed a few presentations that I had really hoped to see. David Gilbey's Poetry Workshop is one I had wanted to attend, and John Gribble's presentation about writing away from the self and avoiding excessive cleverness sounded like it was tailor-made for my problems. I also had hoped to hear Jane Singer's and Winifred Bird's pitch workshop; who doesn't need help writing a successful pitch! Juliet Winters Carpenter's workshop on team translation addressed a field I am just now developing an interest in, so I'm really sorry to have missed it.

On the other hand, I attended a number of great presentations on Sunday. First I went to Gregory Dunne's lecture on Cid Corman, the longtime Kyoto resident and poet. I had met Corman once in his (shall we way) declining years, and was glad to get a more rounded view of his talents and history from Dunne, who is working on Corman's biography. Dunne's understanding of and sympathy for Corman's purity in artistic vision, which could sometimes seemed to have verged on the naive and egoistic, was a refreshing counterpoint to the first-hand impression I had gained of a poet whose direcness in his poetry I have always enjoyed.

Next I attended Li Jiang's workshop on synaesthesia. I've blogged about synaesthesia before, and was able to find out from Jiang that my emotional reactions to numbers and shapes, while not  sensory, could still be considered synaesthesia. We practiced writing an orchestral piece as dialogue, and used paintings to evoke character sketches.

Next I went to Rebecca Otowa's speech on writer's block, during which she discussed (from first-hand experience) cycles of thinking that lead to writer's block. She also recommended points in the cycles from which exiting the insanity was possible.

The last presentation I went to was Hugh Ashton's on self-publishing, concerning which he is an expert due to having published three novels himself.

I had wanted to attend Ann Slater's workshop on writing set in Japan, but it was concurrent with my own workshop on erasure (which went pretty well, I thought. Lots of enthusiastic participation, if that's any gauge). I'm hoping that Slater will present again next year and I can attend. I've heard such great things about her intelligence and talent.

Anyway, thanks to converence organizers John Gribble and Bern Mulvey for a very nice conference. Looking forward to next year's!


Mari said...

Hi Jessica! If you're interested in synaesthesia, you might want to check out Monique Truong's novel _Bitter in the Mouth_, as the main character has synaesthesia.

Sounds like the JWC was enjoyable for you and you got a lot out of it. Again, sorry to have missed it...

I've missed your blog. I was traveling on the east coast for 12 days and just returned, so am catching up on your posts. As for the difficult client in your Ben Lerner post: fuhggedaboudit.

Take care...

Jessica Goodfellow said...

I loved Truong's The Book of Salt, so I will definitely check out her next book. Thanks for the recommendation.

JWC was good, in a limited way. There's only so much talent to draw on for presentations, so there does tend to be the same presenters again and again.

I hope you had a good trip. I think I saw on FB that it was a vacation? Here's hoping it was a great, whatever category/ies it falls under.

Thanks for the sympathy over the rogue client. I'm just having trouble bouncing back somehow. This really hasn't ever happened to me before....sigh

Mari said...

Some people/encounters get under our skin that way. Perhaps you need a "purging" ritual to help shake off the experience. I hope the bad feeling passes soon... try not to give your power over to this person. You certainly don't deserve to feel this way.

My husband and I were in Charlottesville, VA and NYC for 12 days and had a great, albeit exhausting, visit. It was great to reconnect with old friends and visit my favorite haunts in NYC (where I lived for 3 years in the mid-'90s). Much has changed, but much is the same, too. It's good to be home, though.

Take care...

Jessica Goodfellow said...

A purging ritual, now there's an idea....

Glad you had a great trip. Welcome back.