A WEEK IN SAN MIGUEL DE ALLENDE,
2012 Writers Conference and Literary Festival
On the first day of the conference I take my books to the libreria. Volunteer fills out the form, gives me a piece of yellow paper as proof, then I stand in line to register. It takes a while because there are – it seems – more people with last names that begin with A to L. The volunteer who hands me the folder says “I’m Armenian too,” seeing my last name on my badge. I walk over to one of the big round tables covered with green tablecloths and sit, ask for coffee, open my folder. A man with a Steppenwolf cap sits across from me. I, of course, talk to him. His name is John, lives in San Miguel for two months and the rest on
Street, in . He’s hard-of-hearing. I tell him about my classes and he gives me
his card to keep him informed. After he
leaves, women come to sit and talk. Soon
there are six women chatting around me and soon Renny comes with her
friends. I am asked questions about
procedures, rooms, rules, regulations. I
hear my name called simultaneously. Once
again I am the information provider. I
have toast with my coffee. One woman
asks me if Mexican Spanish is different from Argentine Spanish after I tell her
where I am originally from. If I had a
penny for every time a North American asks me that question… Chicago
In the afternoon I am walking to the Salon for a lecture and I hear my name. Sandra is here too! Who knew! She’s here to introduce Elena Poniatowska. It turns out, she’s thinking of moving here. Tired of
and . Later I attend my first workshop: how to use
a blog for your writing. Hence this blog
is born. San Antonio
In the evening, while Margaret Atwood is giving her talk we hear thunder. It rains and rains. When the lecture is over, the rain stops and we go to dinner to an out-of-the-way restaurant. You can tell it used to be a house converted into a restaurant: El Rinconcito. There are six of us. All women. The food takes a long time to arrive. I have tacos de fajita and a beer.
On the second day I attend two workshops with Susan Brown. I enjoy them, feel like I learn something. When to use fiction and when to write memoir. How to write a genre fiction novel. In the evening Joy Harjo performs her poetry, her saxophone, plays to the crowd. Afterwards, we go to the Fiesta on the rooftop of Instituto Allende. Music, food, dancers, fireworks to end the night.
On the third day we are waiting for Naomi Wolf’s lecture when SC reads a very long poem about her lovers. People are streaming in to hear Wolf but she continues to read over the noise of scraping chairs, whispers of people who don’t know who she is. She goes overtime. Today’s workshops were not as good as yesterday’s. In the morning Eva Hunter’s Writing Scenes left a lot to be desired. Plus the room was stifling. I felt ill. I left. Now I sit and breathe fresh air.
On the fourth day I walk to the dining-room in the morning and sit with Irma, Renny and her friends. I am tired. I stare at my coffee cup when someone comes from behind and kisses me. It’s Sandra. And now here comes Elena with her entourage. More kisses and hugs. I walk over to the buffet and Amelia asks me if I want to go to lunch later. So many nice people! Last night’s lecture by Elena was stirring.
The conference is over Sunday. I stay on until Tuesday. I am so glad I came.