September 12, 2010

2010 Sun Valley Writers' Conference

A couple of weeks ago I was fortunate to be asked to volunteer at the Sun Valley Writers' Conference again, and when I wasn't needed at my assigned post, I was able to sit in on a few of the events.  I'm a lucky girl.  Here's what I saw this year:

W.S. Merwin, U.S. Poet Laureate.  I can't believe I have had the good fortune to meet/listen to two Poet Laureates in my life.  Pretty neat opportunity.

Dennis Lehane (Mystic River, Shutter Island).  Chatty, self-deprecating.  I had read both Mystic River and Shutter Island, which I thought were fine, but I wasn't especially driven to read more of his nooks.  However, his talk was engaging enough that I searched for the first of  his Kenzie/Gennaro crime series and also The Given Day, which sounds great.

Arthur Phillips (Prague, The Egyptologist).  Charming, handsome, gorgeous wife.  He has a new novel coming out which (I think) is called The Tragedy of Arthur, which is about this (fictional) lost Shakespeare play on King Arthur.  Basically Phillips wrote a whole play in the manner of Shakespeare, and also wrote the novel around this play.  Phillips is kind of insanely smart and all over the board.  He actually won Jeopardy five times.

John Lithgow (actor) performed "Stories By Heart," a one-man show.  His performances are stories told to him by his father.  He acts out the stories, verbatim, from their texts.  Like a monologue. (Here's a better description of what I'm trying to say.)  I saw him do Ring Lardner's "Haircut," and it was impressive. 

Finally, I caught an inspiring performance by the Hobart Shakespeareans.  O. M. G.  These tiny kids from a public school in New York just slayed me.  They performed Shakepearean monologues mixed with pop/rock songs that sort of coordinated with the scene they were doing.   A little guy whose feet don't even touch the ground when he's sitting in a chair just rocked his guitar solor, a tall skinny girl stood up and wailed out a Neil Young harmonica bit, another small boy's glasses glinted as he shouted and guffawed and acted his heart out through his bit...  it was just great. I mean, I cried. I don't even know why, because it's so cool that these kids are working so hard and just excelling at it, but I cried.   They were so, so good.

All in all a pretty interesting weekend.  We're lucky to have such amazing opportunities come to us in such a small mountain town.

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