Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Poor Folks on Cape Cod

So today I looked up Bertha Walker. As in the Archie D. and Bertha H. Walker Foundation, who have generously funded my residency at Provincetown next week, under the toot-elage of Ross Gay.

I am highly excited. Don't get me wrong. But here's my confession to the land of blog.

I'm nervous.

Today, I just found out (or to be fair, I just realized) that the residency doesn't include food. Which means I am at the mercy of the restaurants and various dining options along the shore of one of the prime vacation spots in the country. I mean ...

... just look at it...

There's nothing there but beach. I think this explains why my initial impression is that the Fine Arts Work Center is probably not used to broke ass poets from Detroit - like me - landing in their vicinity.

I've always viewed writing residencies as something reserved for the luxurious, the leisurely. Mother fuckers with nice vocab and a lot of time and money on their hands. Until Cave Canem, they didn't seem accessible to me. There was no one to talk to about them. No one who was really willing to talk about it, beyond the passing: Oh yes and I'll be on the coast of Oregon this year for Carving Stone or Vermont in August for Butter and Tea. (Yes, I'm making up the names). They never necessarily reported on it. They didn't tell me what they'd learned. They didn't tell me about any of the kids they had to get adopted for 2 weeks, or the job they had to quit to get there. It just seemed remote. Something rich people did, whether they really gave a fuck about poetry or not.

After Cave Canem, however, I guess I got excited. And apparently, a little spoiled. CC feeds you, gives you pillows and a blanket, sends you a packet of materials with a map, offers to shuttle you in from the airport, gives you other fellows' phone numbers, just in case you want to call someone you don't know and be like: "Hey, I know you don't know me yet, but are you freaking out like I am?"

Yeah. This one: None of that. A letter came in the mail from a very pleasant, but busy director. It contained the address, the website, and a note: "Don't come early. We can't accommodate you."

I get it. It's not that I don't get it. CC held my hand. Now I'm in the larger world of residencies, which is probably akin to the small town girl transferring from the little liberal arts college to a public university. It's all an experience. It just takes adapting.

Anyway, I'm posting these fears in case anyone else has them. There's no shuttle. The bus alone into Provincetown is 60 bucks, never mind the ferry. There is no mention of local grocery stores in the blurb on Provincetown's "fine restaurants". No invitation to cook communal dinners. I have to bring my own sheets. No map.

So I'm posting one.

Oh, and all I could find on Bertha Walker was that she and her husband had a gallery in Minnesota. The foundation funds "against white racism and alcoholism" which sounds like a story worth being investigated. I think I also found a death record, if she was 33 when she died in Tennessee. Far cry from Minnesota, but then again so is Cape Cod ...

... a far cry from Detroit. I suppose I'm also afraid that someone's gonna' ask me about this scholarship while I'm there. I'm afraid someone's gonna' say something wack ... like

Isn't she the one that discovered the pressing comb?

I did buy a bathing suit. A two piece. Which is also a far cry from shit I'm normally not afraid of.

If anyone has any more info on Bertha (I like her name) or any other stuff you think I might want to know about, I'm all ears.


Lillian said...


i'd say you have every right to be nervous. you basically hit the nail on the head i think with some of your comments, like residencies being a luxury and that sort of thing. for sure. its hard not to feel a little...

well. you know.


(I'll be at BL in a week, so I will definitely report on how that goes...)

ScryptKeeper said...

ooooo chile! thank you for saying what so many are always thinking ... (ps i emailed u some 411 too)


ScryptKeeper said...

p.s. go on 'head witcho 2 piece! ;-)