Thursday, August 17, 2006

My Conference Experience

Yesterday was the first day of this year's Bread Loaf Writers' Conference, which is held on Middlebury College's beautiful mountain campus in Ripton, Vermont. The Bread Loaf Writers' Conference is considered quite a big deal in circles where writers' conferences matter, and over the years I've read a few accounts of participants' experiences there.

A few years back I wrote my own essay about my time at Bread Loaf and shopped it around. No takers.

You don't suppose the stunning lack of interest was because I spent my three summers at Bread Loaf working in the kitchen, do you?

One of the other members of the kitchen staff once referred to us as "the armpit of Bread Loaf." That was probably true. However, the very best place to experience Bread Loaf when I was there was in the armpit.

From time to time over the next two weeks, while the present writers' conference is taking place, I will post my recollections of my only experience at a writers' conference.

In the accompanying photo, I am just to the right of center, the long face over a blue check sleeve. Our uniforms were provided by the college (we also worked at Bread Loaf for six weeks before the conference, during the English graduate program) from a stockpile of outfits employees had worn in summers past. I always chose an old-fashioned checked thing that looked as if it came out of a diner. I wore green high top sneakers with it.

I thought I was making a statement. I can't remember what it was.

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