>IU Writers’ Conference–Day 4

>On Thursday, the conference was winding down. At Dana Johnson’s first person class several people read what they had written in response to an assignment: write a couple of pages in first person from the POV of an “other”: a different gender, or different race, or whatever. All of the readings, I thought, were well done, but some didn’t really do what the assignment called for. One, for example, was interestingly creepy, but seemed raceless and genderless and the point wasn’t clear. I read a page from the story I’d workshopped earlier in the week since it met the criteria (from the point of view of a mother). A woman read from the point of view of a man with Tourettes; Edward (a gay African American man) read from the point of view of a white fundamentalist Christian woman. Very other. It was a good exercise.

After that class I visited the office of the Indiana Review, where I had a nice talk with Tracy Truels, the current editor. I saw the fiction backlog, which was neatly organized by month of receipt. (My last submission, from February, was in there somewhere!) This is a good magazine, and if you are looking for another magazine to subscribe to, you might consider this one.

Then I had a great meeting with the Lauren Robel, Dean of the Law School. (We talked mostly about law, and the law school’s recent work, but it turns out that Lauren is also a poet and so she was quite interested in what was happening at the conference.)

Because of my meetings, I missed the last session of the Publishing seminar, unfortunately, but made it back for the Bloom workshop. We discussed three stories again and a few of us also read from exercises we had done early in the week. The assignment was to pair up, ask each other questions, and then write a “profile” of the other person. If I ever assign this exercise in a class I believe I’ll make more of an effort than Bloom did to let people know what was expected of them. Several of us did mostly factual profiles. Bloom wasn’t satisfied with this approach, since it reveals little of the other character involved—the observer. Although this is certainly true, if she had bothered to frame the exercise more precisely, she might have heard very different results.

The evening readings were good. First we had poet Allison Joseph, then Amy Bloom (reading from her forthcoming novel, Away, and poet David Kirby (whose stuff is excellent and funny, if you haven’t read him.)

Since Thursday was the last full day of the conference, many of us went to Nick’s afterward for beer. Nick’s is an IU/Bloomington landmark and I’m glad I got there on my last night in town.

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