At this year’s Association of Writers and Writing Programs Conference in Washington DC, Ping-Pong once again elbowed its way into the melee of 9,000 attendees. The horde of humanity milled about like a giant beast.
One interesting thing about our table that we love is the stories people tell us: about the first time they read Tropic of Cancer (seems for most this was at age 14), or the first time they went to Big Sur, or met Magnus, everyone tells us a story. We even had one person send us a hand written letter by Henry Miller for our archives. This is the highlight of the event for us, this connecting with people.
There were lots of remarkable panels/readings: the Camino Del Sol panel, the Tribute to Lucille Clifton, and the Anne Waldman reading. What is always a bit disappointing is the jockeying for position amongst many poets/writers. They look through you when speaking, waiting for someone more important to come along before they jettison you: we like to call these folks star-fuckers. At the table I watched this again and again. What they fail to see is that person they just jettisoned has an important story to tell, if only they had the ears to listen. It is this kind of exchange-some call it dialogue-that is becoming obsolete.
We at Ping-Pong and at the Henry Miller Memorial Library, like to hear your stories; we are listeners. The library holds a bit of this magic in the air: all the stories and songs floating about inside Emil’s cabin, like the soot-darkened walls in St. Peter’s Basilica, from all the incense burnt over the years. Come by the library, tell us a story, or just sit and listen to the wind in the redwoods, warm your back in the sun, watch condors fly– Maria Garcia Teutsch