I had planned to attend even before I found out that I wrote the "theme poem." I went for one day at the 2004 CFCP, Inc convention in Ontario and had a really wonderful time. They run it more like a very inexpensive poetry workshop (it only costs $30 to attend the entire 3 days, not including hotel room, travel expenses & the banquet & luncheon if you wish to attend those). Al Young, the California State Poet Laureate, gave a keynote speech tonight called "The Writer's Struggle: Crafting One's Poetry" which was very inspiring. Surprisingly, I enjoyed the presentation of "Cowboy Poetry 101: Then and Now" by Mick Vernon a lot more than I expected. I had been thinking, "Cowboy Poetry?" in a less than flattering way, but it was a very entertaining 50 minutes. Mick had a guitar and sang to accompany some of the poems and he's a good entertainer so it was....fun!
I was in minor shock earlier when I found out that I won the theme contest, mostly because I sat down and deliberately wrote a poem to fit the theme, so it was sort of an "assignment poem," rather than a burst of creative inspiration. However, I was relatively pleased with the result and it was fun to have it printed in the conference schedule as well as the prize winning poems chapbook. It was also interesting to hear it read as part of the conference proceedings & to have people look at my name badge and say, "Oh, you're the one who wrote the theme poem!"
on tips of long stems
dance gently in soft eddies
swaying to a song
only the Lawrence goldfinch hears.
The trail is overgrown now,
scrambling over the arroyo--
no one comes
to this hidden canyon,
deep in national forest lands.
American vetch grows wild
by ruins of the old cabin,
purple as ribbons she once wore,
twisted around neat braids
hanging halfway down her back.
She brushes gray strands away
from eyes content to watch
the breeze choreograph its melody,
and mourns this place
she may never see again.
Chaparral winds caress her back,
zephyrs on the path
to her Pasadena townhouse,
where she hears a familiar tune
tinkling on patio wind chimes.
--Deborah P Kolodji
2006 California Federation of Chaparral Poets, Inc Convention Theme: Winds of the Chaparral
published in Prizewinning Poems 2006 by the CFCP, Inc.
Tonight's festivities ended with a giant read-around, where everyone's chairs were rearranged into a big circle and everybody read one poem. At this point, there were about 50-60 people still there and it was fun to hear all of these different voices and poetry styles.