I’ve been enjoying the Yale Writer’s Conference for five days now. It’s different from the west coast, starting with the architecture, where they make their new buildings look old, on purpose. But it’s great. Terry Hawkins, the program’s director, has done such a complete job of putting things together that I have a hard time believing this the conference’s first year. I’m in a ‘college,’ complete with a fireplace in my suite and a Harry Potter-like great hall / dining room.
If you keep up with my blogs, you know I was drawn to Yale in part because Scotty is showing his Mortality Play this weekend. The Yale drama department selects two plays a summer and works to get them on the road to New York through a workshop with professional actors. I finally saw him last night after he’d worked a fifteen hour day revising his play. I’ve seen the play twice before, but it keeps getting revised and improved, so I can’t wait to see how it’s grown.
Last night I was introduced to a writer whom everyone but me seems to have heard of, Julia Glass. She was art history major from Yale, so she’s got a good eye; her novels unravel families. She starts ‘in the middle of the middle,’ and works back and forth. I bought The Whole World Over, which she revealed in her talk might be her favorite. We also had several good sessions with a New Yorker writer, Kate Walbert.
When I presented the first thirty pages of White Man’s Blues, it engendered a small miracle. One of the ten participants with me in our group was a young African American woman who reminded me of Thea, Scott’s girlfriend in the novel. This woman, who, like Thea, is quite attractive, teaches writing at the college level in Florida. Given the multiracial themes in the book, I was anxious about her reaction. The good news was that she loved it. Not one negative comment. She specifically applauded my juggling of so many plots and subplots—something I worry might turn some readers off, but she went out of her way to encourage it. She wants it to be a movie, now. Wow.
The bow on the birdcage is that I’ve since read part of her novel and her protagonist’s name is——Thea. This conference has been one of those ‘yes, there is a God’ serendipities that seem difficult to explain through theories of random behavior.
I took the title of this Blog from “God and Man at Yale,” William F. Buckley’s 1951 article that criticized Yale and its faculty for liberalism. The town of New Haven, which I’d only driven through before, was populated by people escaping the religious conservatism of Boston. Its cityscape is punctuated by steeples—churches everywhere; these questions of God and Man seem to be part of the very soil around here.
Causes Kevin Arnold Supports
Poetry Center San Jose, East Palo Alto Police Activities League (EPA PAL), Squaw Valley Community of Writers, Yale Writing Conference, Gold Rush Writers