When I see the students, I break into acne again, remembering my English teacher, tweedy breath and patched sleeves, when Dylan Thomas was young and easy under the apple trees and cummings slept with a lady named death. Nothing has changed. This boy wears a black beret, reads Ginsberg and howls. Back home, a perfect domestic moon lights the boy’s head, but he borrows the ancient moon pasted in the sky, whispering to the girl with dark eyes and breasts he would die for, who writes of flowers, generic, unnamed.
Rebecca McClanahan, “Scenes from a Weekend Poetry Conference”
“Scenes from a Weekend Poetry Conference” is just that, composed of four distinct observations of the people moving in and out of McClanahan’s weekend. The first scene, a deconstructing of the artifice of dress, segways into a heavier look at a high-schooler still tethered to the poetics of teenage angst. The final scene, more serious and sincere than the others, is reminiscent of the final stage of a poet’s work – past the artifice, the immaturity, the need for accolades. The wheelchair poet has none of these burdens to consider in her writing – the only thing separating her from poetry is a physical limitation, and even that is inconsequential to the utter pureness of her words.
McClanahan’s work appears in numerous anthologies, including the Best American Essays and Best American Poetry. Her book, The Riddle Song and Other Rememberings won the 2005 Glasgow Price in nonfiction. She lives in New York City and teaches nonfiction and poetry in the MFA program of Queens University.