Society of Educators and Scholars annual convention
Patricia Lieb: Reading poetry as a program presentation was beyond my wildest dream...
Hanging out and attending the Society of Educators and Scolars annual convention
Speakers relax and dine on the River Walk after programs on the last day of the events.
Left: Dr. Glenn R. Swentman, professor, author, poet" Patricia Lieb, author, journalist, poet; Richard A. Kruse, Ph.D, president, and Sonny Slitine, conference director of SES.
And Here Is How I Pack My Bags
I recently accepted an invitation to join Dr. Glenn R. Swetman in a reading for the Society of Educators and Scholars at its 2010 convention in San Antonio, Texas. A great opportunity for a writer, I’m sure.
Dr. Swetman, of Biloxi, Mississippi, and me of just north of Tampa, Florida, got together when we both changed planes in Memphis, Tennessee, for the duration of the trip across Mississippi Delta land, Louisiana, and Texas.
Sitting on the small jet and looking downward through the window as we passed over the black earth farm lands, bayous in swamplands, and desert sands, I thought about the wardrobe I’d packed and hoped it would be sufficient among this extinguished group of educators and scholars (Ph.D’s—hello!. I was a newspaper reporter for some 20-plus years, but—)
I thought about last night’s packing and it brought memories of how it used to be when my publishing partner Carol Schott and I produced the literary magazine PTERANODON and the PTERANODON chap books, and the prize poems series’. We would pack the night before our flight to which ever state in which ever city the NATIONAL FEDERATION OF STATE POETRY SOCIETY annual convention was being held. We did this for several years.
We would pack the night before our flight to New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, North Dakota, etc—as we ALWAYS were included on programs held annually by the NFSPS. We also traveled as guest speakers to many state poetry society workshops, readings, and seminars and various university events.
So we packed surgically, minimizing our wardrobes so we could put BOOKS in the bulk of our bags.
BOOKS, they were our object. We were publishers and we needed to promote PTERANODON and all the fine authors we published. We needed to get our stuff out there and get it noticed. That was our goal.
So what to wear was the least of our concerns. There have been times we had to send out for a cleaner’s pickup, or go shopping—often visiting thrift shops for a quick outfit for an evening readings, sometimes for an unexpected “rap” session with famed American poets such as John Ciardi, or William Stafford, or Richard Eberhart. Sometime for just dancing in the convention center’s lounge.
The NFSPS convention was held in Orlando, Florida in 1981. In the prime of the Lieb-Schott publishing era, we were loaded with more books than you can imagine, but few articles of clothing. It became necessary to walk to a department store not far from our hotel. And would you believe, they charged a cover charge to enter? Yes!
I think we were mostly shopping for personal stuff, like hair ribbons, that day. After Carol "talked" with the store manager, she said she would return our $4.00 entrance fee when we left the store. I don’t remember if anybody bought anything, and I wondered if we appeared to the store lady -- perhaps scary. I do know we decided to find another place to shop after that.
But one thing for sure, any clothing we wore during the five-day events, were wrinkle free. Carol always had room in her suitcase for her iron. Regardless of the attire, you’d not find one crease in our wardrobes. Even garments from the thrift shop got ironed. Once, during a flight from Chicago to Tampa, our baggage somehow got put on a differ plane than the one we were on. Carol said, “I hope the other plane doesn’t lose our bags… But one thing for sure, I have my iron right here.” She patted her long cotton multi-colored carry bag.
So as I packed my bags last night, I crammed underwear between stacks of books; and tank tops in the suitcase corners, and I laid my skirts and slacks atop to protect the books. But unlike Carol, I don’t carry an iron.
Now, as I step up to present my reading I wonder: Am I wrinkled?