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Overheard at the West Chester Poetry Conference

By Annie Finch

“Welcome to the largest conference in the country devoted to poetry.”

“Go ahead, tell us about the dactyls and the anapests, we can handle it.”

“Thanks—thought I’d go for the Clara Bow look.”

“So I said to Madeleine Albright, “good job in Lithuania.””

“That’s it! It’s just a more well-groomed crowd than most poets.”

“I could tell you were in love! You look great!”

“I’ve read every word Tom Disch ever wrote, except for some of his reviews.”

“I call it the Single-Syllable Shout Method of teaching prosody.”

“I was commissioned to do a commemorative sculpture. It’s on Commonwealth Avenue.”

“The prosody award is what I try never to miss. That’s where I really learn something.”

“So, what do you think of Der Rosenkavalier?”

“It only has seven syllables, but it’s an iambic pentameter.”

“Will men be able to contribute to the women’s poetry timeline?”

“There are a lot of new urbanists in the new conservatism.”

“Gotta go fiddle—they’re getting out the instruments.”

“Richard Wilbur is so incredibly humble.”

“It’s kind of in scattered couplets.”

“Is there dancing later?”

Comments (6)

  • On June 20, 2009 at 2:27 pm Colin Ward wrote:



    “It only has seven syllables, but it’s an iambic pentameter.”

    LOL! Now you’ve got me wondering what poem was being discussed. 🙂

    Thanks for posting this.


  • On June 20, 2009 at 4:01 pm Terreson wrote:

    Chuckling here. But the snippets rather raise a series of questions.

    Was there dancing later? Did the scattered couplets poem perhaps adhere to the Olsonian notion of composition by field? Who is Richard Wilbur? Has a man ever contributed to a women’s poetry timeline? Wasn’t there a Rock n Roll song composed according to the Single-Syllable SHOUT method? Did the loved one really look great? Finally, in the firmament of poetry conferences what are the lat/long coordinates so that I can enter them into my GPS device.

    I almost forgot. Was the fiddler’s name Nero and were there any fires on the premises?


  • On June 20, 2009 at 4:30 pm Annie Finch wrote:

    Ah, Colin–it was a line from Shakespeare.

    Terreson, here’s a URL for your GPS: http://www.wcupa.edu/_ACADEMICS/sch_cas/poetry/Poetry_Conference/

  • On June 20, 2009 at 5:08 pm thomas brady wrote:

    “It only has seven syllables, but it’s an iambic pentameter.”

    The best of men have sung your attributes,
    Breasts, lips, eyes, and golden hair!
    Of these, they say, there are no substitutes,
    Pentameter of seven proves less rare!

    see line 2 above.

  • On June 20, 2009 at 9:25 pm Annie Finch wrote:

    nice one thomas!

  • On June 21, 2009 at 10:43 am Dave Lull wrote:

    Videos of Frank Wilson’s interviews of Donald Hall, Daniel Hoffman, Molly Peacock, and Michael Peich at the West Chester Poetry Conference can be found at FW’s blog:





Posted in Uncategorized on Saturday, June 20th, 2009 by Annie Finch.