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Of Travel, Lapses, and General Merriment

To start off I’d like to apologize for having taken such a long unexpected hiatus from blogging.  Last Wednesday I left for Minneapolis to attend the Sigma Tau Delta Convention.  In case you’ve never heard of it, Sigma Tau Delta is an honors society for English majors across the globe, but is mostly made up of American undergraduates.  Anyway, I thought I was going to have more consistent access to the internet while I was there, and this wasn’t the case.  So thanks to all who stopped by looking for articles and didn’t find them; I’ll resume my regular schedule after this post!

I don’t think of this as a space to share my personal experiences with you, but when they pertain to poetry I can’t help but fold it in.  This conference is a gathering of students from all across the country, and in addition to scholarly papers they are permitted to submit and present original works of poetry, fiction, and creative nonfiction.  I was accepted for an original fiction piece, and it was nice to be able to travel there and share some of my writing with the larger world.

Needless to say, I spent the better part of the week listening to a lot people read their work.  I was instantly struck by how easily technology could have improved the experience.  Sigma Tau Delta is generally a place for people on the brink, future literature scholars and creative writers who are just finishing their undergraduate degrees and represent the next wave of thinking and writing literature.  The only whiff of technology I got the whole time was a rather unsuccessful proposal for a live-blogging program.  There is no current evidence on the website that this blog even existed.  If the literary world is to move into the 20th century, we must continue to embrace technology and the ways in which it can help us. 

Social networks like Twitter, Facebook, and WordPress are quick, easy ways to focus a large group of people on a single goal, but for some reason many at this particular conference seemed uneasy to try these approaches.  I’m thinking mainly of the SXSW conference, where for the past three years Twitter has been responsible for main ebb and flow of events.  Had they begun their blogging project sooner, we could have used the site as a way to familiarize ourselves with the pieces before the short readings.  Questions to panelists could have been tweeted to a special account, making it possible to participate in several panels at once.  And though I’m not a huge Facebook fan, a 2009 Conference group would have made it possible to meet people beforehand, and recognize them throughout the weekend.  These are just a few of the ways that social networking can improve conference experiences.  And in an area such as poetry, which thrives on collaboration, social experiences should be enhanced in any way possible.

Overall, the conference was wonderful.  I discovered a beautiful new city, and I enjoyed the time spent with my fellow writers and thinkers, particularly the ones who I have gone to school with for years but never really gotten to know.  I only think of all the other connections I could have made had more people there been willing to use the extraordinary tools that other groups of thinkers have already embraced.


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