Category Archives: exchanges

Why Magic Isn’t Stupid

Last semester, Slash Pine participated in an exchange which I found to be mostly fruitless. So it was highly gratifying to, this time around, on our trip to the University of New Orleans, experience what I would call a “successful” exchange. I am basing the success of this trip on how well it satisfied my own personal goals: to further development of myself as a writer and as a person. As most writers know, as writers, we are first and foremost people, people who are consumed by a need to make art on a level that sometimes obscures our very real need to live our own simple lives. Art can sometimes seem much more important than going to the grocery store, writing papers late into the night, going on walks, or having dogs, but our most recent trip to UNO made me come alive as both a writer and a person. It perfectly blended both worlds, and, as corny as it may sound, I was left with an overwhelming feeling of love. Love for New Orleans, a city to which I had never been, love for my home in Tuscaloosa, love for my Slash Pine compatriots, love for our New Orleans counterparts, and love for the written and the spoken word.

I wouldn’t feel the need to gush so much if hadn’t felt so truly enchanted by the city of New Orleans. There were so many moments that I consider to be magical, as in only magic could have been behind them, that I finally understand why magic (or voodoo) and New Orleans are so often equated. For example, one afternoon, after we had done our necessary touristy things: eaten at Café du Monde, bought books at Faulkner House books, bought masks in the French Quarter (it was the weekend of Halloween after all), and after we had suffered a flat tire, we returned to Joseph Wood’s friend’s house to wait for the next exciting thing. I noticed some coins and a book of I Ching on the mantle, and, just because I was vaguely interested, I proceeded to read everyone’s fortunes. Even the most skeptical among us allowed me to read their fortunes. Our group never talked about this, but a powerful, reverant hush fell over the room while everyone tossed the coins and they were deciphered. For those who may not know, the procedure of the I Ching is to think of a question to ask the universe, fall into a state of intense calm, and then toss the coins. The coins then correspond to a particular page of the I Ching. The moment that particularly sticks with me from this was reading the advice that the I Ching gave a UNO student, Alex Munster, who, at 17, was the youngest among us. His advice was something like “to wait for change and to sow the seeds one at a time.” After it was over, he told us that he had asked if he would ever become a great writer. I could see the hope and the relief spread across his face as he sat in front of us, grinning, realizing that he did not have to become famous today. I may never understand why, but at that moment, he needed to hear those words, even if they came from a ratty old book on a mantlepiece.

There were several similar instances that had the same sort of magic to them, one of which being that I bought a $0.25 fortune card from one of those Madame Zora machines that told me that I would “enjoy organ music today” immediately after I had played an organ. The greatest “magic” of the entire trip, however, must have been how much I felt completely at home as a writer and as a human with the UNO students, who we had known for less than a week in a city I had never been to before, causing me to ask myself “why is the impossible labeled as such? As writers, do we expect so little from the world that we are always surprised to find any sort of magic that comes from anywhere but our own heads? And I found that it’s actually the outside kind that’s the only sort of magic I like.

-Summer Upchurch

NOLA, I love that voodoo that you do.

During the Slash Pine Writer’s Festival, our new friends from the University of New Orleans visited us and stayed for a few days.  We all spent every night together at my apartment before they retired to their various corners in Slash Piners’ apartments for the night; so when they left and my apartment remained quiet for a night, it felt great, but lacking a certain firecracker-held-like-a-cigarette soul.  Nothing was loaded, and I slept well.  During that weekend, handshakes were loaded with trick buzzers.  Static accumulated as I didn’t comb my hair.  We headed down to see them a long couple of weeks later.

By the time we met the morning to head down, everyone was giddy.  Even I was giddy, and I don’t get giddy, but by the time we giddied up on out of T-Town headed to the Big Easy, I was practically bouncing in my seat.  We left a few minutes late, in Slash Pine fashion, and wandered on our way down, because our fearless leader Joseph Wood knows the best way to travel.  Travel is best when you do it with people you talk to non-stop for hours, and when you’re with those people, why would you be in a hurry to get anywhere?

We stopped at the Abita Mystery House, full to the brim with homemade mechanical tornados, snapping turtles, out of commission Bar-be-cue joint signs, and an old fortune teller machine that vibrated and spit out your fate and lucky color (“banana-spot brown” was one) for only a quarter, which is a pretty sweet metaphysical bargain.  I saved my fortune in the back of my notebook, but I won’t tell you what it was, because it wouldn’t come true.  I told the other interns though, because that place was all broken glass and two-headed chickens—the rules don’t apply.

Once we got there, we spent some time in Faulkner House Books (my favorite bookstore).  Two rooms, tiny, and once lived in by one particularly luminous Southerner (hence the name); Faulkner House Books is the antidote to what ails the person who buys books to relish every turn of phrase.  No displays here of the latest memoir of washed-up Hollywood.  Everything is intentional, everything has merit.  This is what travel is like.  Time in the new place is limited, time in this place with these people is limited, so every conversation carries a certain intensity.

On our last day, a fellow intern, Summer, did I Ching readings for us at the house where Joseph was staying.  We took the advice.  We discussed our belief in all things:  tarot cards, newspaper astrologists, fortune cookies.  These purveyors of vague fortunes are not meaningful because of what they tell you, they’re meaningful because of what you tell you they tell you.  Fortune telling is like poetry, a mirror.  Like travel, a telescope looked in from the bulbous end.  I lost my paper fortune from the fortune teller machine in Abita Springs.

That night, Joseph cooked for us.  We all took turns helping, slicing tuna into thin strips or mixing crabmeat and Ricotta cheese with our hands.  We ate from one large bowl. We handed each other food.  We read our work to each other.  This is my love letter to all my interns and all our friends from New Orleans, because travel is like falling in love.  It dilates your pupils.

-Kyle Dennan

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St. Augustine: A Place for Piners

One of the best and worst experiences that I had as a Slash Pine intern was the trip that I took to St. Augustine, Florida. Being in a van full of people for ten hours each way tends to give those sorts of experiences in my opinion. So does getting to explore a beautiful, historic city by yourself, especially if you are writing while you explore.

The point of this trip was to attend the Other Words Literary Conference, so we got up “bright and early” to meet Lucas Southworth and drive all the way to St. Augustine. Our first stop was a barbeque place called Fat Girls. They had really great food, and this started Blake, Carlos, and Will’s bread pudding exploration. They proceeded to order bread pudding at every restaurant for the duration of the trip.

The next morning we actually did get up early, 6:00 AM our time, and met with Patti White and Karen Gardiner to go to the first panel at the conference. After we listened to the panel, Patti told us that we were free until lunch. Somehow we all still ended up at the Spice and Tea Exchange for “Write St. Augustine,” the writing exercise that the Slash Pine interns partnered with the staff of FLARE: The Flagler Review to provide for the conference. I believe that some of the most interesting found poems that I have ever heard came from that site. Lucas had a particularly amusing one.

Lunch at A1A was one of my favorite food experiences of the trip. They make their own beers and root beer. I do not drink soda anymore, but I made an exception to try homemade root beer. Not only was it delicious, it seemed to be noncarbonated. My least favorite food experience came at Harry’s Bar and Grill. I did not eat very much to begin, but we also lost the game to Texas A&M that evening. That completely ruined the rest of the night for me, but I was exhausted anyway, so I went back to the hotel and slept my blues away.

Day two of the conference brought on more panels and more food. I also managed to do some shopping and exploring. I sat with Patti and Karen at a panel of writers speaking about the writing that they do as a group. They each have sketchbooks or journals, and they contribute and pass it on to the next writer in the group. Some of the drawings were absolutely beautiful. After the panel, I went off by myself to do some more writing for Write St. Augustine. It took me forever to find the Love Tree on Cordova Street. Looking at the trees themselves is not so impressive, but knowing that the two trees’ symbiotic relationship is so vital inspires the love letters that the prompt called for.

Some of my family lives very near St. Augustine, and they drove down to visit me. That was definitely a highlight of the trip for me, considering that I only see these family members about once every three years. That meant not having lunch with the rest of the Slash Pine crew at Columbia, but Patti agreed that Conch House was a very nice alternative.

The evenings were very interesting. We all went to the readings in Ponce de Leon Hall on the campus of Flagler. This building is absolutely gorgeous! It was refreshing to come listen to everyone read after a full day of writing, exploring, and listening to panels about writing. This may have been the part of the trip that made the biggest impression upon me. Hearing all of the people involved with the conference read, whether they were students or editors of reviews, was very inspiring. Learning how intimate the writing world can be was probably the most valuable experience from this trip in relation to being a Slash Pine intern though. All of the writers at the conference seemed to know several of the other writers. Seeing Patti interact with her publisher is only one example of how closely knit the writing world can be.

-Amber Brown

Something like a weird little family–new orleans

It’s hard to know where to begin with the story of our trip to New Orleans.   I could sum it up as “life changing” or “damn near indescribable,” but I’ll try to give you a bit more than that.  It was a trip the six of us had been yearning for for two weeks.  We had been missing our UNO pals a great deal after they left Tuscaloosa.  I didn’t realize it was possible to miss people I only knew for four days, but all of us had a hankering to see them and explore New Orleans.  We loaded up the van early Thursday morning to meet our friends at 6 PM that night, even though it’s only a 5 hour drive.  Trips with Joseph are never from point A to point B, and that is more than all right with me.   Our conversations in the van were intense and silly without much room for anything else.  I’ve always seen SP as a family, and going to New Orleans was like going to visit our cousins.  Fortunately, we rarely fought, and “Dad” was pretty patient with us throughout the trip.  We stopped in Abita Springs for some food and to visit the Abita Mystery Museum.  This is where words will start to fail me, so forgive me.  The museum was what every tourist   trap should be: weird, fun, and a little frightening.  I met Darrell the Dogigator (exactly what it sounds like), and we had our fortunes told amongst other fun things.  We felt like we were in a dream.  The museum was disorienting.  When I left, I felt like I was walking on pillows.  It was an entertaining experience I wouldn’t trade for anything.

We met our pals that evening at a burrito place.  It was truly like visiting family.  There was constant chatter and joking.  It felt comfortable.  I felt like I could do or say anything, and it would be received by open, loving minds.  Kyle, Alexandra, and I stayed at Max’s place during the trip.  Max lives in a house that is truly Max.  There’s a scary bunny piñata and a cool, decoupaged coffee table.  It was a welcoming, awesome place.  Max is a welcoming, awesome guy.  We toured the city the next day.  Carolyn Hembree, balling poet and amazing professor at UNO, taught us how to drive in New Orleans, and we walked to Café Du Monde for beignets.  Eating them in the square in front of the cathedral was relaxing.  It was the perfect place to write and work on our hellcat catalogue.  Later, we explored the city, ate African cuisine, and hung out.  While at the market, Summer and I went on a mini-shopping spree and treated ourselves to Mardi Gras masks and matching purses.  Sure, it was a little touristy, but we needed to be a little touristy in a new place.  Plus, that’s my favorite purse ever.  That night we went to an amazing Halloween party and met wonderful people.  Riley said that Summer and I were going as tourists to the party, but I don’t recall him dressing up.

My favorite part of the trip was when we hung out at Joseph’s friend’s house.  The house itself was a beautiful, vine covered duplex.  Sitting on the porch was like sitting in a bird’s nest.  We sat around reading poetry to each other (Joseph even finally read for us!) and talking about what it means to be a writer, to be an artist, and to be a human.  I’ll carry those conversations with me always.  There was a sense of peace there that I will never be able to duplicate ever again.  We were together, and that was all that we needed.  On our last night there, Joseph cooked for us at the house.  We went to Rouse’s (the best grocery store ever), and he sent us all around for quests to get different ingredients.  Since the kitchen was small, only a few of us could help him at a time, but I think we all helped at one point.  Joseph is not only and excellent English teacher, but also an excellent chef.  By the way, the food was magnificent.  We were like vultures.  We didn’t want to use up all of the dishes, so we all ate out of the same bowls.  I have never felt such a sense of community than I had that night cooking, talking, reading, and eating.

Visiting New Orleans was the most emotionally exhausting trip I have ever been on.  I have never felt so much in my life, and my writing benefitted from that.  I benefitted as a person from that.  The friends I’ve made from New Orleans are magnificent people.  You should meet them, if you get the chance.  My friends from Slash Pine, well, they’re like the brothers and sisters I never had.  It was the perfect family road trip, and I would jump at the chance to do it all again.

I should note that I left out a lot of stuff like Max’s sweater Will wore, the beautiful poetry reading on the ferry, Carolyn Hembree being the coolest cat this side of the galaxy, Faulkner House Books, Kyle and I accidentally sharing a couch one night, Summer reading the I-Ching, Prime Example, and the night we hung out at Riley’s.  Ask me about those sometime.

Laura Flowers

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The Other Words Conference1 was held in the nation’s oldest European-founded town. Slash Pine interns ventured to Flagler College2 in St. Augustine, Florida this past November to attend the conference. We were inspired by the conference guests, Flagler College, and the city itself.

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The panels assembled were thought-provoking and educational. They offered firsthand information from publishers and authors on topics such as the selection process of journals, submission advice, as well as commentary on travel writing.

We were privy to unpublished and soon-to-be published works, as well as anecdotes and flash fiction from a diverse gathering of authors. Particularly noteworthy readings were performed by Bob Kunzinger, Kelle Groom, Mark Powell, Patti White, Bob Shacochis, and Lucas Southworth.

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Our own workshop was a fun, interactive experience. We were able to introduce several Flagler students and authors to the art of hand-stitched chapbooks. Following our instruction, the group used a simple stitch to make a keepsake chapbook.

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One evening, the Slash Pine interns also participated in the Renga Reading. We joined other students and writers in the beautiful Ponce Hall to read our own creative works. Some of the work had been composed during the conference, while others focused on the theme of the conference, Wanderlust.

Throughout the conference, attendees were able to tour St. Augustine. By way of prompts, such as the scavenger hunt or finding impromptu inspiration, we wrote, jotted, and scrawled in our little notebooks to our hearts content.  Knowing we walked the same cobble stone streets as Zora Neale Hurston, stood in the same halls in Flagler College as Thomas Edison, and looked out into the same ocean that held the aspirations of generations past, inspiration was not hard to find. That, and we stayed in a hotel full of pirates3.

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1 http://www.floridarts.org

2 http://www.flagler.edu/

3 http://www.pirategathering.com/

—Debra Logan

Slash Pine interns descend on Fort Morgan

A week after our internship took us to the top of Mount Cheaha, it swept us back down to the beaches of Fairhope for the Gulf Coast Writer’s Association Conference. It was a weekend for literary conversation, sandcastles, and poetry readings–perfect, in other words, for us.

            On the first morning, we attended a reading by several incredibly talented writers, including Slash Pine’s own Brent House (his chapbook, The Saw Year Prophecies, was one of Slash Pine’s first chapbooks to publish!)

After the reading, we went to Fort Morgan with our beloved Patti. We explored the gorgeous old caverns and walls, and Laura gave me a very detailed explanation of the term “duportail” that later turned out to be completely fabricated.

I still don’t know what it means.

 

We sat in an amphitheatre-shaped cannon turret to write (maybe? I don’t know what it was, and I doubt Laura did either, but it was shaped perfectly for our purposes) and to read what we had written. Patti read to us from her book of poetry, and we were, obviously, rapt. It was hard to leave, but we took lots of pictures.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day was our busiest. We attended a panel led by the student editors of Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s literary magazine, Pegasus. We were so impressed that we went to lunch with them later, and that led to an entire hour of nonstop chatter about literature. We know we like a group of people when they get as excited about David Foster Wallace and Kurt Vonnegut as we do!

After the ABAC panel, the Slash Pine interns led a chapbook stitching panel, and had our participants assemble copies of Be the Heat. They loved the hands-on, personal aspect of stitching chapbooks, and they were so excited to take home their own copies. We got to talk about why we love Slash Pine, and it made me proud to be part of this group of people.

Between panels, readings (our own and others), and browsing chapbooks from other presses, the interns gathered on the beach to talk about authors we love and things that inspire us to write. We were already close—we spend absurd amounts of time together and pretty much have to love each other—but during the trip we felt like we became a family.

– Alexandra Franklin

Summer, flanked by Laura and Colin, heads fearlessly into the fort.

Depaul/Tuscaloosa: Exchange

Tuscaloosa

DePaul University visited us first; four students—Al, Spencer, Marie, and Rachel—flying in from Chicago, while we drove up from Tuscaloosa to meet them in Birmingham. The theme of the exchange was movement. Itt was fitting that we started out with physical movement, from place to place, and visited the Civil Rights museum, an exploration of social movements. After eating at Al’s, we went to Becca’s apartment and wrote an exquisite corpse poem—the typical idea of fun for writers.

The next day, we headed out to the train tracks to write for a few hours before we hiked down to a small creek, reading the raw things we wrote for the camera. Afterwards, after eating at Mugshots, we went down to the model train station and read the poems we had written for the reading, Tongues on the Track. It was a small, intimate setting, one that juxtaposed our theme of movement against the still train, the quiet resting of the shadowed figures that sat, listening to the reader.

The weather next day was not conducive to camping, as we had originally wanted to do, so we stitched chapbooks with DePaul instead—an exercise they heartily enjoyed. We worked quickly, growing more sure as we worked. The camaraderie knit itself around us, and I realized just how much I would miss these people I had only known for a few days.

Chicago

When we came to Chicago, I was still groggy from my nap, but awake enough to be struck by the faint, sparkling beauty of the city—how the buildings faded into fog like a myth, the lights sweeping over our faces like they were searching us. We found Al’s apartment and went out to eat before coming back. I stayed up that night to write my poem to read on the radio the next day; my bed was next to the gigantic window that looked out onto the street, struck by how the light seemed different here.

In the morning, we walked to DePaul University and read our poems for the DePaul Writers’ Series. We talked about Slash Pine and the exchanges, as well as about writing in general. We rode the El and walked around downtown Chicago to write for a while—I jotted down notes, but couldn’t think of anything to write yet. We went to the Bourgeois Pig, a café that had literary names for sandwiches—such as the Great Gatsby and the Walt Whitman. We also visited the Poetry Foundation, which was beautiful—it held a lot of books, and we walked around looking at chapbooks before plucking a volume of poetry off the library shelf to read for a while.

Later that night, we visited a writer’s house to hear two authors read from their books—it was another close, intimate experience that reminded me of the reading we had done on the train tracks. It struck me that this was something that something most people didn’t think about when they thought about writers—a kind of support that didn’t necessarily involve fame or lofty recognition, but a personal approach that meant so much more than impersonal acknowledgement.

The next morning, we stitched our chapbooks before taking the El downtown. There was a man dressed in silver clothes, painted silver, who danced to music in a robotic fashion—something that rarely happened in Tuscaloosa. After eating and walking through Millennium Park, we visited the Chicago Cultural Center, to look at the typography exhibit and write. Then we walked to Wicker Park to read what we had written, ending with a freestyle rap by Will. We visited a few bookstores—one carried an eclectic stock of chapbooks and enigmatic works by local authors, and was delightfully quirky.

We packed up our bags early in the morning and said goodbye. I said goodbye to Chicago, but not forever. Years from now, I will be telling my children the story of how I fell in love with a city. About trains and people and the biting cold, the bookstores tucked away in the façade of the city, the poetry that fell from our lips onto park benches.

– Lin Wang

Wooing Across the Country

As we drove into the city of Chicago, Illinois, the office lights of the architecturally stout buildings twinkled through the softly rolling fog blanketing the dark night sky. Great waves crashed against the lake shore, while the runners seemed unconcerned from the spray. We—Katerina, Colin, Lin, Will, Luke, and myself—all stared out the windows of the university provided van, taking in the city’s welcome.

The next day I commented on the ride in saying, “It was all very romantic.”

That perfectly sums up my feelings over the entire exchange process with the DePaul University students. I was wooed by these students and the conversations and doings of each separate weekend. And I feel as if the feeling was reciprocated.

When the DePaul students were headed home at the end of their time in Alabama, one of the students, Rachel, threw a mock fit in the airport, refusing to leave and tossing her things onto the ground.

She said later that we gave her a lesson on how to be a good person. Our southern hospitality apparently wooed them too.

It is things like that that make me realize how successful our exchange time together was. During DePaul’s time in Tuscaloosa, we spent four days working under the theme of movement. During the weekend, we moved from very industrial spaces and things, like Birmingham and the Civil Rights Museum, to more natural spaces and things, like a stretch of grass lining an old train trestle. We took them to the small food dives to get a taste of authentic Tuscaloosa. We even had a reading at the Northport Train Depot called ‘Tongues on the Track’. Clearly, we like trains. Our poems and prose that we read even focused on movement, whatever that might have meant to each individual person.

And then, in Chicago, our theme was privacy in public spaces. As is the nature of a bustling city, people are elbow to elbow every day without even noticing each other, sharing intimate moments without realizing it. Our task was to take the time to notice each other. We spent time riding the subway, walking the streets of the city, plunging into small bookstores, attending a poetry reading in a private home, and recording a radio show. There was so much immersion happening, but what made the exchanges successful were the people.

The point of the student exchange is to push you out of your physical and mental boundaries and drop you into an unknown environment, with fresh people and fresh ideas. Slash Pine attempts to extend our community of writers and form friendships with these people. And with Chicago, we accomplished this.

While DePaul was in Alabama, we taught them how to stitch chapbooks and discussed the world surrounding chapbooks. When we arrived in Chicago, we learned that DePaul had been so inspired by this that they had started their own chapbook press called Shotgun Press. They surprised us with their first chapbook, ‘Tongues on the Tracks’—a collection of the poems from our reading in Alabama. I joked that we gave them Chapbook Fever.

Something wonderful happened during our time together and I don’t quite know how to explain it. I consider myself blessed to have been a part of it and a part of Slash Pine. Blame the nostalgia on my graduating this weekend, but Slash Pine made such an impact on my life and I am so thankful for the experiences that the internship provided me with. The best way for me to describe it is, it was all just so very romantic.

—Sarah Jennings

Ex-ch-ch-changes, Time to Face the Strange

This Post is Almost a Year-End Review!

The very first thing we did as interns was have a discussion about arts and community, and if you fall back a few pages on this blog, you will find what have been labeled ‘ruminations’ on that topic. I was the only intern lucky enough to experience the full extent of our community based events this year, as I was the only one to participate in every exchange. An exchange is basically an exercise where we take a group of our intern-writers and put them somewhere else. If you would like to hear this in more eloquent terms, we told the DePaul University radio all about it. It’s long, but it has some good writing and interesting things in it, and you’re already reading this, so you must be interested. It can be found at http://depaulsws.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/april-27th-show-listen-now/.

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Alabama and DePaul at the Tracks

Obviously, we went to Chicago. As someone who had never been to Chicago, one would think that I would have been super into the city aspect of it—experiencing big city things in a big city way; however, that would kind of be missing the point of the exchange program, at least from where I stand. The real point is the community, the people, the conversations, and here, at the end of the year, I can confidently say that is what Slash Pine is all about. I think the best way to go at showing you how I came to this grand revelation—which is completely different than merely being told it on the first day of class—is to look at our entire exchange program this semester chronologically.

First, DePaul came to us. Rachel, Al, Spencer, and Marie—four writing students from DePaul—came to experience the South. This happened pretty early in the semester, so we pretty much got to work on planning their itinerary right away. We took them for what I have been told was some amazing food, planned some writing time, showed them Tuscaloosa, and even had a reading—which I have since learned was some of their first public reading. While all of that was awesome, the best parts came from simply being around each other. The exchange environment is pretty immersive: they stay with us, and we see each other more or less 24/7 for about four days. We had goofy writing exercises, some NSFW lines in an exquisite corpse poem, and intense and interesting conversations. There was even free style rap. Not only did we come away from that weekend with four new Chicago friends and better senses of ourselves as writers from those conversations, we also came away as a much closer intern pool, which might have been the most important part in getting us through the rest of the semester.

The next big thing, if you will, was a trip to Fairhope, Alabama for a Gulf Coast Writing Conference. While there, we heard a pretty diverse group read—from a myth-alluding poet from Auburn to MFA’s from our own University. We also read ourselves, for the first time without a predetermined prompt, so in my opinion, I kind of got to hear the other interns’ ‘real’ voice, and got to expose mine for the first time. At the conference, we shared our culture with new people by leading a stitching workshop. Everyone got a chapbook that they had made themselves. It’s a really satisfying feeling to see something you made with your own hands.

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Me on a Mammoth, Obviously.

We even spent one day at Fort Morgan and we even got treated to a reading by the ever fabulous Patti White, founder of Slash Pine. [Check out her poem Tackle Box, and maybe Medical Advice if you’re feeling a little racy] While at the fort, we also had free writing time and read for each other. We spent our nights lounging around what I believe was a bay, reading to each other from hotel beds, and having some pretty deep heart-to-heart talks with each other. This trip was very different from DePaul, as we weren’t really visiting anyone specific. We made some friends from ABAC, met people from all over the Southeast, but really, I think we came away from this an even closer group than we did after planning DePaul’s visit to us.

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I’m a Tourist, sometimes. #sorryboutit

Finally, the exchanges came full circle, and a group of us got to go see our Depaul friends in Chicago. We stopped at Dinosaur World on the way there, and most of my pictures from the trip involve me illegally touching dinosaur statues. The DePaul trip was an amazing experience; we did some touristy things, but all in all, I felt like we got a genuine cross-section of the city. We read for a radio show (link above), read in Wicker Park, experienced the train, and all of the things it had to offer, but most importantly, continued conversations and relationships that had been started months ago in Alabama.

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Everyone Lookin’ Cute, Feelin’ Cute in Chicago

When it comes down to it, those conversations are what an exchange is about. The exchange is representative of community. Community is integral to Slash Pine. So, in my eyes, the conversations we had about writing, voice, identity—those conversations, in a way, are Slash Pine to me. At least they are what I will remember my time with Slash Pine through. Hopefully, too, they continue. Trips are already being planned back to Chicago; the DePaul crew has started their own small press; another Chicago group may well come to Alabama next year. Keep an eye out as the conversations continue within the exchange and within Slash Pine. Who knows what will happen next!

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