So, nervousness. Yes, I've been on TV and radio, and done public speaking, and just had a column in the Kansas Star this weekend. But I've never presented to my peers in a formal environment.
I was nervous. But, after the first few words come out, you're just reading a paper to people interested enough not only to be there, after driving hundreds of miles (our furthest friends came from Tennessee and Michigan), but to be there at noon, for the first presentation.
It was a great experience. I got to be on the first and last paper presentation panels, and it was the last paper I presented, the one I thought would be least accessible and interesting to most people, the one on George Herbert's poem "The Altar", that won the "Best All-Around" paper for the conference. That gives me a lot of hope and confidence in submitting that one to the International Conference, which was planned on my birthday weekend, obviously for my benefit :-)
I made a lot of new friends, as I always do at events like this. When you're around others who love English as much as you are in a concentrated weekend of "English love" it's really hard not to come out with new friends. :-)
Also representing Rockhurst were Cameron Summers, Liz Brown, and Brian Talbert. Cameron and I had long discussions in the car between KC and Columbia, in between listening to podcasts of This American Life.
Some notable papers from the panels I was at:
Matt Burnett's collection of poetry which included "Meager Fly": a poem which discusses a fly's venturing into a cup of coffee.
Laura Citino's "The Shipwreck Coast", a CNF piece that discusses family, history, and "why?"
Charise Alexander's "Sex and the City: Four Women, One Voice, Many Silences", a fairly scathing critique of the show as a leap backwards for feminism.
Joel Slater's "Cognitive Dissonance in 'Bartleby'": how does Bartleby (not) reconcile Christianity and Capitalism?
Eric Dial's "Historical Scars": some amazing war poetry - some related to the story recounted in the film "Joyeaux Noel" and others about the recent war in Iraq. Devastating work.
Melissa Shaner's "Young Goodwife Brown": excellent "from a woman's perspective" historical poetry.
Plenary reading by Missouri Poet Laureate Walter Bargen: 'nuff said.
If you would like more information on Sigma Tau Delta, the International English Honor Society, visit their website.
If you'd like more information on ISI, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, an organization I tabled for while at the conference, here's their website.
And here is the link to the global Facebook group for STD Midwest.