Writers at Work Writing Conference in Alta, Utah
Alta, Utah is a ski area in Utah. Unlike places like Big Bear, CA and Park City, Utah, Sun Valley, Idaho and even Vail, there does not seem to be a sizeable population of people here during the summer. The population of the town is fewer than 400, so I imagine if you lived here for a few years you could know all your neighbors. It is only an hour from Salt Lake and has some amazing skiing.
Jennifer, who makes sure the whole conference runs well, lives right here in Alta, and she skiis and bikes all year round here in one of the most beautiful places you could live. She’s surrounded by mountains and there is still a lot of snow right now in June and it’s not so warm even in the day that you need AC.
We have quite a collection of great faculty at this conference. Frankly Steve Almond and Bill Harley are reason enough for most people to attend the conference this year, but add in Debra Monroe—absolutely beloved of her students, Pete Fromm—great writer and what can I say? Yummy!, and then the one and only Heather McHugh. Timothy O’Keefe is energetic and prize winning and is teaching poetry as well and we have agents! From Boston: Kit Ward—witty and cool even with her quiet voice and Kathryn Beaumont –has it all on the ball and is better looking than women have a right to be on the East Coast (she lived a long time in Los Angeles and she still looks like she drinks sunshine for breakfast every morning.) Margaret Dalrymlpe an editor from the University of Nevada has a wry charm and wit and knows the whole history of publishing. Altogether, the faculty is amazing. I’m reading good work by the students with a high level of excellence and every morning I hike up to the chair lift and view house. This morning was the first morning I didn’t think I was going to die on the way up. Altitude adjustment.
I’ve been thinking about that subject a lot. We get to a new place in our life where we can do more, write more, mail out more work, sleep more, but we continue to operate as though we had nothing, no time, no money. What about admitting that you’re now at another altitude? I’m thinking about this.
Tomorrow I fly to Los Angeles and from there to Heathrow and then to Athens where I’ll be for two nights. Mark is already there exploring the city. Then we take off on a 7 hour ferry for Patmos. On the ferry, there is Wifi, although I don’t remember it being free. There is a little café, but I think last time we brought food from Athens. Last time we were in Athens it was August and so hot you couldn’t think. But now it’s 70 at night and 80 during the day. I like that. Patmos was 90s to 100 last time. This time it’s supposed to be 72 and night ranging up to 73 in the day. I don’t know if we’ll be able to reverse the Greek economy ourselves, but we will certainly check out the Cave of the Apocalypse again and we’ll admire the hallucinogenic plants that grow in the area. Some say it’s the mushrooms that Elijah, Elisha and Ezekiel consumed as well. Well, we’ll probably stick to wine and ouzo, maybe sip the local beer. One Book of Revelations is probably enough.
One more day here in beautiful Alta, 7 more writers to meet with. Then wine.