7.20.2009

Fishtrap, Kerouac (give a dog a bone)

I spent the week before last basking in the cool air and camaraderie of Fishtrap, a writing conference on Lake Wallowa, OR.



The place isn’t easy to get to. I flew into Boise and drove my rented Subaru six hours southwest, through Christian radio country and Nez Perce land. Awesomely, I arrived in this little pocket of Oregon to find I already had a friend there—my Write Club pal Jo Ann, who I hadn’t seen since she moved to Bellingham a couple years ago, was attending the conference too.

It was a great summer campy week. My favorite thing about conferences and residencies is the magic that descends when people are fed, watered, housed, contained, and stripped of responsibility. It’s easier to know people, easier to be known. Time expands, experiences are compressed, so that a week or two later, I’m still mentally unpacking it all.

So, speaking of Kerouac, it looks like I’ll be hanging at his Florida house next spring as writer in residence. The College Park house is where he wrote his second book, The Dharma Bums, and where he hid out from On The Road’s unexpected success. According to the (slightly disturbing) video tour on the website, you can even stand in the very spot where Jack curled up in a ball on the ground in the backyard, “sick with fever, dead broke.” Goodness!



The house has been updated and renovated by the Kerouac Project, though the back bedroom, where J.K. slept and typed his manuscript onto one long scroll, apparently hasn’t lost its vibe. According to former resident Ted May, “There's a great concentration of energy in the back of the house. I feel him back there; I do.”

Hopefully Jack’s spirit won’t mind if I forgo the scroll-and-typewriter routine and opt for methods less romantic. No guarantees I won't occasionally curl up in the yard, though.

(...as advertised:)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

no worries about the scroll technique. i don't think kerouac was thinking "romantic" when he chose that method. his thoughts were probably more on the train of "it stores like toilet paper but strong enough to be inked with truths."

enjoy kerouac house.