Spring '10 TOC

"...not enough ecstasy for me, not enough life, joy, kicks, darkness, music, not enough night." —Jack Kerouac

Taking Our Seat: Naropa at the AWP Conference

One of the phrases that floats around Naropa is: “Take your seat.” This refers to owning one’s space, embracing one’s position. It speaks of power and purpose. Last week, April 8 through 12, Naropa “took its seat” at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conference in Denver.

For those not familiar, the AWP is an annual event, held in a major city, attended by as many as eight thousand writers, readers, publishers, editors, students and educators.

When Naropa first attended two years ago, the conference was held in New York City. Administrative Director Amy Catanzano and I represented Naropa there and, learning that the 2010 event would be held in Denver, began making plans. The following year, Amy represented us in Chicago, along with Summer Writing Program Director Lisa Birman. With the Denver conference a year away, the plans intensified. Amy, Lisa and I were able to convince essential Naropa constituencies (Academic Affairs, Admissions and Marketing & Communications) that this would be a tremendous opportunity for the Kerouac School. We received their unqualified support and Naropa signed on as one of the AWP’s 2010 sponsors.

Throughout the conference, Naropa hosted or participated in nineteen events, both on and off site. Maureen Owen, fellow editor of this publication, sat on a panel which focused on the lineage of the Kerouac School. Lisa Birman hosted a panel on Naropa’s Summer Writing Program. The Kerouac School presented readings both in the Colorado Convention Center on Thursday, the first full day of the conference, and outside of it at the Mercury Café, on the final (Saturday) night. Friday night’s reading in the Convention Center’s Grand Ballroom, with Kerouac School founder Anne Waldman and Gary Snyder, a poet firmly embedded in the Naropa lineage, was characterized by activist/writer Joe Richey as the most heavily attended poetry reading in the history of Colorado. Our publications, both not enough night and Bombay Gin, were presented by staff and students at an exhibit/table in the hall among hundreds of other substantial presses. For Naropa, the conference could not have gone better.

On Friday afternoon, poet/photographer (and Naropa alum) Jack Greene and I took a stroll around downtown Denver. That city to me has always been ground-zero for the Beats, even more so than New York or San Francisco. The road in On the Road leads to Denver, the streets that spawned Neal Cassady. It’s no coincidence that the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics was founded in such close proximity. And that day, on those bustling streets, with Colorado’s golden-domed capitol gleaming in the background, Neal and Jack and Allen were right there with us as the Kerouac School took its seat.    

—Junior Burke, April 2011

Not Enough Night
Not Enough Night
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