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Actually I did drag the Yang Fudong concept mixed in with Gary Snyder’s Mountains and Rivers without End and some Judith Butler (not a lot – maybe just the concept) into my workshop this week at Naropa. I invited poets who wanted to hike in the Rockies and write poetry and think about gender to take part in this weeklong event. We went up on a smashing climb to Chautauqua, which is in Boulder, and there we took a path to the Royal Arches. It was a beautiful and occasionally rough hike and though I generally think I’m in great shape I was er challenged, and once we got to the top Christie reminded us that we had to turn around right away so we didn’t miss the Burroughs panel. After all, they were in school and had responsibilities. I said (cowardly) how are you all about that. I’m okay they said to a one. I really wasn’t. But I like being strong so I was bolting down the mountain talking to Harlan about John Wieners who seems to be becoming everyone’s obsession. And I got a cell phone call from New York. I’m on a mountain I explained. And returned to the walk. By now a dash. My foot landed oddly, so oddly that momentarily I was in devastating pain, and a loud yelp, a fine poem, came out of me and mostly I thought I am screwed. So much for my hiking week. Just a sprain I guess. Not in the plan at all. Luckily there was a conventional classroom ready for us on the next day, and Xerox machines and the capacity to simply read aloud for some. I suppose for a really productive workshop you need copies but maybe not. The poems were pretty remarkable. I still see pieces of one, Adrienne’s: “A shadow winds through the mountain and covers the town.” That seemed very clean to me. Adrienne took the class cause she really didn’t want a class. It’s her last semester. Basically she was through. The others I wondered about, but I kept bumping into them all week and everyone seemed in their own form of glad. We returned to the wilderness, well a series of ponds and a nice flat trail of Friday. What had this been, I wondered. I mean the whole thing. I brought in poems by CA Conrad and Carol Mirakove who I am both fairly obsessed with. Conrad smashes gender in the context of the family. Carol writes a soft flat poem coming in from all sides. Both of them write multivalent poetry. I wondered if I was just throwing things at my students, but something felt right. What the hell. We were sitting by a bench at the end of our walk and we were being late again. Anyone have a poem. Hannah volunteered. Who was massively allergic wore a white mask on both hikes and also she was massively shy. She stood by the pond reading a poem about being eaten by a mountain lion. It felt like nature and gender and sarcasm (or awe) all in the right (surprising) doses. Would you read that I asked. Do all writing conferences have a show and tell component. We seemed beyond that but here it was. No I can’t read she said. I could never read in front of people. The solution was that she read at this final colloquium and we surrounded her, we were all up close while she read the same poem which sounded very good, kind of poignant by the pond but in here in the colloquium it felt wild and proud. Her voice shook, we waved in the wind. It was really pretty good in the end. By now I’m all finished with the ice. I’m flying home. Next I have to put some heat on my ankle. Any ideas. I don’t own a microwave. Nor do I think I should.