Looking for Lil
[pic: Ann Kroeker and L.L.]
This day will be defined, partly, by what I miss— Vinita Hampton Wright, Lil Copan, Mary Karr, Helena Maria Viramontes, Luci Shaw, Hugh Cook, Phylllis Tickle, Scott Cairns, Kathleen Norris, Yann Martel. Thankfully, Ed Gilbreath persuades me to hear Rob Bell at the end of the day. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Far before Rob sprawls on the stage and talks about spontaneous combustion and intestinal fortitude, I race through the day like a kid hopping from one intriguing rock to another. I delight in each moment, midair or touching down. (Someone asks me at one juncture if I'm going to meet anyone important next. I say that anyone who desires to meet and connect is important, even if he or she is not a "person of supposed consequence." Then I apologize, not meaning to minimize the question.)
[pic: Ann Kroeker and L.L.]
[pic: Ann Kroeker... beautiful, but this barely captures her]
Still, who knows the "importance" that will arise from meeting with an agent at 9:30 am. Or dear Ann Kroeker at lunch time and beyond (eyes like green seaglass, heart and mind like the pounding ocean, smile like the sun). Who knows what may come of encouragements from a Moody editor, who sat to say, "You have a real gift. Remember me." Or dinner with Rosalie and Llama Mama, who frankly bears no resemblance to a long-necked mountain creature (but instead is small, gentle, also green-eyed like Ann but with a softer green that reminds me of beautiful lichen.) Yes, who knows.
[pic: Rosalie (Llama Mama's poet friend), Llama Mama, Me]
Returning from dinner the long way (Llama Mama has told me she has no sense of direction; after this ride I see she is an honest soul), I begin looking for Lil. She has hastily set up a meeting with me (after I hesitated yesterday to introduce myself at a session and she stopped me midsentence to exclaim, "You're here!" Apparently, Scot McKnight had urged her to meet me, but I never got her email.)
In the end, I form an impromptu "Looking for Lil" club with poet John Leax, as we wait in the internet cafe for the elusive Lil. This too has its laughter and beauty, as John declares Mark Goodyear a very good poet; as I meet Sister Antonia (another Paraclete person who ends up calling Lil and rescheduling us for the next day); as I laugh with English Professor Paul Willis who, as it turns out, also knows my father-in-law and remembers him fondly.
At some point, Ed Gilbreath passes by and invites me to hear Rob Bell. Why not, I think. Why not end the day listening to some guy who speaks the language of teenagers. I am not disappointed. Rob is totally entertaining. He says that writing takes intestinal fortitude. I agree. He says that people write best when they feel they will otherwise spontaneously combust holding in a particular idea. I get a chance to be contrary. Because I remember this is not why I write. I write to love. I write because, in some metaphorical way, I am looking for Lil... the wanderers of the world I long to take under my wings.
Photos by L.L. Barkat
LL's Body of Water
LL's Solo at the Red Sun