I ventured to Idlewild on the left coast of Michigan for a writer’s conference recently. Idlewild, located in Yates Township north of Grand Rapids, has an international reputation for once being a vacation paradise for African-Americans. The location was recently designated as a national historical site.
For me, the experience was mentally and spiritually stimulating. It turned out to be good for my pocket as well. While in attendance, I received formal instruction about the ‘art’ of poetry writing, learned about the history of Idlewild had an opportunity to meet long time residents.
I’ve been writing poetry ‘freestyle’ for decades and have been content with the notion that as long as people enjoyed my work, the rules were not so important. In recent years, my exposure to published authors has prompted me to “learn” how to write and produce industry acceptable manuscripts. And I may meet that goal someday, IF I can stop blogging for a while, edit my old works and complete several books I have written.
My love of stoic business comportment seems to interfere with my ability to function in a like-minded way when it comes to my writing. As a poet, I have been unruly and quite full of myself because people provide me with positive feedback regarding my work. I have boastfully maintained that I make women moist and grown men cry, when I am performing! I the past few years, my ego has been assaulted by my trusted companion humility who painfully reminds us that aint nobody shed no tears and my seductive words aint moisten no panties in a LONG WHILE cause I have not been performing cause I produced anything for public consumption. I am slowly but surely moving toward the notion of writing/publishing as a creative yet serious business worthy of full professional comportment and I must confront my aversion to critique by my jaded peers.
The Convergence I found myself envious of several of the newly published poets in attendance at the conference. Watching one of them open crack open a case of a newly published works caused a moment of abject jealousy. After having self published, forever, I now long for someone else to labor on my behalf; for a publisher to stand in front of a crowd and gush as he or she describes my literary accomplishments. For two and a half days the Idlewild conference provided me with some motivation to meet those ends. I might yet make a splash in the pond literati.
The Bonus Immediately before my drive home, I ventured out to the cottage of a man known as Fifty to retrieve a chair that I had left on his patio. I called him as I approached the property. He came out of his home and greeted me. We talked for a while then he invited me to look at some of the properties in the area. We got in his truck and drove around to some of the property for sale near his cottage. Like most vacation communities the houses are modular on ample tracks of land. The community is well-kept because the residents cooperatively maintain the properties around them. And nature abounds! I had not seen dragon flies, since I left Coldwater, Michigan.
Fifty is a year round resident as are many of the Idlewilders. The population includes families that have been there since the turn of the twentieth century as well as folks like Fifty who relocated after living in Detroit or Chicago most of their lives. The residents desire to return the area to the glory of its hey day when Marcus Garvey, W. E. B. Dubois, Madame C. J. Walker and other black notables worked and vacationed there. The timing is certainly right. All that is required is that visionaries like Fifty be given the resources to revitalize one of Michigan’s historical treasures.
p.s. I developed car trouble en route to Idlewild. My “service engine soon” light came on about one hundred miles into the trip. I arrived at my destination safely and got Stella Seville repaired in Big Rapids the following morning. Once Mister Goodwrench resolved the problem my fuel mileage per gallon almost doubled.
The trip was good for me on several levels. I made new friends, renewed old acquaintances and learned a few things.