I went home for a brief break after the Policy and Poetry, and didn't make it back in time for either of the readings, which was a terrible pity, but I did go to the wonderful open mike MCed by Regie Cabico and the Princess of Controversy. I would call the Princess more of a Hip Hop musician than a poet, but I did think she was very good, and very gentle, and very kind. Also notable was a very funny stand-up comic whose name I have forgotten, who recited the hilarious answering machine messages of her Italian-American mother, who apparently leaves her messages in the form of hilarious free-wheeling political diatribes, salted with Italian-Americanisms. Also not exactly poetry, but very amusing. Late, late in the night a woman whose name I never caught read a truly marvelous poem, a memoir of her step-father and her mother and "post-office days." Her beloved step-father had been a "Most Wanted" Civil Rights activist; in childhood her mother had taken the family to the post office regularly to remove the flier depicting his face from the display. Afterwards there had always been ice cream, so she enjoyed the excursions without understanding them for years, until her stepfather's death.
And I read a poem myself, The Making of a Man, which I read because it's one of the few political poems I have which I think is pretty good. It got a warm reception, especially because I was able to explain that it was about Floppy, whom many people there had met early in the morning and well-remembered. Naomi Shihab Nye stopped me afterwards to say that it was a beautiful way to bring the day full circle for her; other people came and thanked me for the poem or offered me hugs, both then and later in the weekend.
At the open mike I sat at first with a slam poet named Ashley Cole, from Pittsburgh, and then later with Susan Brennan and another poet, a woman born in Guyana, now a professor emeritus in Economics, living in Bethesda. Her first name was Camille, but I don't remember her last name if she ever told me. We talked happily and companionably all night, and when we left, after one, DH kindly met Susan and Camille and I and gave both of them rides home. I loved the feeling of effortless connection that happened over and over for me at this conference. Any of these women would be people I would love to have as friends, and it was wonderful to sit and drink and talk with them even for a little while.
I went home exhausted, but happy and excited for Day 3.
(ETA: I should note that the version of the poem of mine that I've linked above isn't actually the version I read; it's undergone some revision, and is a much improved poem now, although I liked the draft enough to revise it, so I guess that's saying something.)