This year's CLA also marks the eighth birthday of this blog -- And my first return visit to New Orleans since Katrina -- The flash flood warnings that came to my phone the first morning were a bit worrisome, as was the lightning (AND there was that alarm that started sounding during breakfast, apparently in response to a lightning strike on the tower), but the panels inside the hotel kept my mind off the storm and things were warming up by the end of the weekend. I was there to present work on Amiri Baraka as part of a panel on literature and music. Last year the airlines didn't get me to the conference until after my panel. This year's flight delays were on the other end. I was in New Orleans in plenty of time for my panel on that first morning, but didn't get back to State College after the conference till two in the morning.
The Langston Hughes luncheon featured a poetry reading by Brenda Marie Osbey, whose name, as mine often does, seemed to shift pronunciation as different speakers spoke it. I first met Brenda at the initial Furious Flower conference back in the 90s. One of the great things about CLA is the family atmosphere as brethren of the text meet together. Friends too many to mention singularly, though I must mention the Tom Dent Birthday party Jerry Ward held at his house over by the campus of Dillard.
I'd just seen Eugene Redmond in Merced at the Black Arts conference. In the week between, he'd been to Howard, just a day after I was there, to appear at their Baraka tribute.
The conference banquet featured Edwige Danticat, who read from a new essay.
Once the conference was over, I finally had time to get down the street to Mulate's for that serving of crawfish etouffee. The nice mother who stood next to me at the bar to order her drink while her eight-year-old exchanged jokes with me was followed by two parents with their eighteen-year-old son, who were told that law required the son, being under nineteen, to sit farther away from the bar, which he did.
Oh, I will mention that those three people you see at the iron table are Penn Staters Susan Weeber, Laura Vrana and Earl Brooks, who delivered great papers.