Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Looking for Lil

Ann and I Feet

[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.)

Ann and I Feet and Hands

[pic: Ann Kroeker and L.L.]

Ann Beautiful

[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.

Feet at Olives

[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

LL's Leaving

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Blogger Llama Momma said...

Who me? No sense of direction? Just be grateful you missed the tollway adventure in Indiana. Who knew those little gates were so resilient? (More on that one of these posts.)

I love these reflections, by the way. I feel like I'm there with you, roaming around meeting all of these people.

7:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You picked "green seaglass" for my eyes? The pounding ocean for my heart and mind? My smile, the sun?

If you only knew how much I long to be in the sun, sitting by the ocean, picking up think that I might carry it all around with me every day brings a moment of contentment with living in a landlocked state with frigid winters and dull, gray, sunless skies.

Like Llama Mama, I'm enjoying your leisurely reflections on the festival. I charged right in and blurted all my big stories out in one long post.

Take your time.

I'm with you...waiting with interest for the next installment.

8:50 AM  
Blogger christianne said...

i'm confused: who is lil? is it the lil copan you mentioned in the opening paragraph?

your reflections on llama mama and ann kroeker were lovely.

oh, and how funny that you mention rob bell here . . . i was just spending some time reading up about him yesterday afternoon.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're all looking for Lil. ;)
Here's what I think: we need to set up a conference purely for meeting cool people. No speakers. That way we don't have to stress out about what we're missing and focus on who we're playing with.

11:20 AM  
Blogger Marcus Goodyear said...

Bless you and John Leax for your kind words about my poetry. The check will be coming soon.

I like Heather's idea. Not a conference but a retreat. What would such a thing look like? How would it be organized? Would people even attend if there were no keynotes to schmooze and ask for autographs?

11:25 AM  
Blogger Lara said...

LL-I love hearing about all the neat people you were around. So many familiar names... And I love the way you captured a few folks on film (feet only). That's a great perspective.

You make it hard to be content with my lot in staying home from the Festival this year, making it all sound so stimulating. Yet I'm also enjoying getting such a delightful recap of your experiences. So keep them coming!

3:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think the retreat should be at the oregon august.
but you will have to plan way ahead for the lodging as it goes fast for the summer months.

seriously...i know you-all would love it.

bty, i like the feet and stones and cornerstone. wonderful portraits!

4:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe "twin rocks"...though i have not been there, my 11 year old has and loved it. it might be the best place for a retreat of faithful writers.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, a writer's retreat. I'm taking one of those this summer with some Mount Hermon friends. I think it's a fabulous idea. I've heard of a pretty little Lodge down in the Hill Country of Texas and I'd think we could get some sort of hook up there??

All of your posts about Calvin make me think about trading in my Mount Hermon aspirations next year and attending Calvin . . . but will you all be there, is the question.

And it's funny to me that you refer to Rob Bell as one who speaks the language of teenagers. Surely our age difference is not that great?

6:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Anyone who wants to meet and connect is important..."

That is so LL!

Meanwhile, Mazel Tov on God in the Yard!! I feel like a prophet-- knowing the name of a book that I will be purchasing in 2-3 years time. :-)

10:46 PM  
Blogger Ted M. Gossard said...

Llama Momma was there too! Ha. No sense of direction. Funny. She's a wonderful writer herself.

I love your thoughts here, and especially your thought, L.L., of writing out of love. I can see that.

And so glad you heard Rob Bell. He is quite gifted. But above all glad you ended up having a good time over there! Sounds like it was real fun for you, especially in the end.

5:45 AM  
Blogger Ann Voskamp @Holy Experience said...

I am listening, thankful that you count us all important ones worthy of connecting with, thinking about words that offer a wing to tuck under,a companion with whom to take wing.

But too, I am thinking: shoes. When connecting, shoes may be of great import, the part of the meeting that gets recorded. Appropriate for us sojourners.

Need new shoes.

Thank you, as always, LL.

9:49 AM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Llama... got over to read about Indiana tollway adventure. Well worth the trip ;-)

Ann... how marvelous to think of it that way... that you carry with you what you most desire.

Christianne... yes, that's Lil Copan; editor at Paraclete Press.

Heather... you too? Wait til Lil finds out! :) And your idea for a conference sounds dreamy.

Mark... check? Big? Oh, let me think... I'm sure there are more good things I can make up. ;-)

A Musing... gotta love the feet. I'm wondering how many people will stress over meeting me in the future, wondering what pair to wear.

Nancy... I'll take ocean, wherever I can get it. And I loved that about stone and cornerstone. Hadn't considered that I'd captured both in the pic.

Spaghetti... yes, I hear that Texas place is akin to heaven. Calvin is only every two years, so MH won't compete next year. And here's the thing about Rob... even though he speaks the language of teenagers, I hear him (aren't those Numa (sp?) videos for teeens?).

A. An... And boy did WE connect at MH. One of my favorite suppers there! Thanks for your thoughts on God in the Yard. You really will feel you'd been a prophet if it comes out under the same title. Books rarely keep their working titles.

Ted... fun's the word. Yup, I had a lot of it.

Ann... well, I guess shoes get recorded when you meet LL. Not so sure about others. Thinking here... what might it mean to connect with someone at the shoe level?

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Would you PLEASE give one of Rob Bell's books a try.. Maybe Velvet Elvis. And I def. don't think the Nooma videos are just for teens. The "Everything is Spiritual" DVD(not part of the Nooma series) is great. Would love to hear your feedback on that one.

Kim H.

5:39 PM  
Blogger L.L. Barkat said...

Kim H... oh, Velvet Elvis. You would have really LAUGHED (I did)... Bell had this huge portrait of Elvis on the stage that he put there throughout his talk and that he used as a bit of a prop (knocking it over once and joking with the audience that they had gasped and would they gasp so much if he himself had fallen off the stage...? He thought not.) I saw a Nooma video once and really liked it. I thought to read Velvet Elvis after hearing Bell speak. I shall certainly put it on my list of 500 books to read. ;-) No, really, if you like it that much, I'll move it to the top 100.

5:46 PM  

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