Almost time for the Sanibel Island Writer’s Conference. It begins Thursday. I picked out my workshops a couple of months ago, but now it looks like I will be switching things up.
Why? Because a presenter who will be there has suddenly popped into my world twice in two hours. His name is Nick Flynn, and he is teaching on memoir Thursday afternoon.
I had heard a lot of excitement about Flynn’s presence a the conference, but I didn’t know who he was, and for some reason didn’t bother to find out.
Then today I received a stack of books from my friend Iris. She is in the throes of moving from Ohio to North Carolina, and sent me a ton of books she thought I’d find useful. Many are on teaching poetry. And what was the last book in the stack?
Not only was it the most inviting book on the stack, but there was that name: Nick Flynn. His credentials are impressive. I immediately looked up his workshop. He is teaching memoir on Friday morning. I decided immediately to attend.
Then later, paging through my newsfeed, the Poetry Foundation posted a poem by Flynn called “Philip Seymour Hoffman.” (Copyright Nick Flynn):
Last summer I found a small box stashed away in my apartment,
a box filled with enough Vicodin to kill me. I would have sworn
that I’d thrown it away years ealier, but apparently not. I stared
at the white pills blankly for a long while, I even took a picture of
them, before (finally, definitely) throwing them away. I’d been
sober (again) for some years when I found that box, but every
addict has one— a little box, metaphorical or actual— hidden
away. Before I flushed them I held them in my palm, marveling
that at some point in the not-so-distant past it seemed a good
idea to keep a stash of pills on hand. For an emergency, I told
myself. What kind of emergency? What if I needed a root canal
on a Sunday night? This little box would see me through until
the dentist showed up for work the next morning. Half my
brain told me that, while the other half knew that looking into
that box was akin to seeing a photograph of myself standing on
the edge of a bridge, a bridge in the familiar dark neighborhood
of my mind, that comfortable place where I could somehow
believe that fuck it was an adequate response to life.
I believe in paying attention to the signs the universe sends. I think Mr. Nick Flynn has something to teach me. Why else would he show up so prominently twice in such a short period of time? Synchronicity is not something to be ignored.
This has added a bit of intrigue to the upcoming conference. Watch for my follow up–I truly hope to have something amazing to report. And if I do t?–well, I will learn from that, too 😆.