Day 2 started off at 8:00 AM -- You'd be surpised how many poets will show up at 8:00 AM to talk poetry -- great papers, including Laura Vrana's discussion of Evie Shockley's work.
At the lunch time banquet, poets who had been laureates of just about everything but Laurel, Maryland, were honored and Rita Dove gave a warm-hearted talk. We all remembered dear Lucille Clifton, as we had remembered Amiri Baraka the first day.
During the afternoon, we heard from poets Lorna Goodison, Kwame Dawes and Brenda Marie Osbey.
Cornelius Eady had borrowed a local guitar to play some of his recent compositions for us. As someone who has had to make do with whatever instrument was at hand, I sympathized. Still . . .
The ever-ironic Ishmael Reed strode into the auditorium near the end of the group reading in which he was featured. The stalwart defender of human rights and champion of the rights to free expression of all writers everywhere muttered something about putting Language Poets in jail, repeated poems he'd read at the Umbra event in New York, greeted the poets who had been on time, and sat down.
The evening banquet was a tremendous opportunity to talk over the day's events and talk poetry (and China!) with long time friends and new ones -- I sat next to John Edgar Tidwell and Carmaletta, part of the always strong Kansas contingent. While I was pleased to see a sharp increase in the representation of the more aesthetically radical end of the poetry spectrum at this third Furious Flower, I had been a bit worried to see that those of that ilk who were invited to read were pretty much all lumped together on one very late post-banquet reading, which was then cancelled. As we'd remarked at the opening plenary, the avant garde are usually the first ones shot. But they were in the house, and we did meet up over drinks. Conference director Joanne Gabbin hoped to move the readers to the next day, but most of them had booked flights too early for that. Ah, humanity! Ah, poetry.