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Bread Loaf 2016 Happened

When I found out I'd been awarded a work/study fellowship to attend Bread Loaf (one of the oldest and most prestigious writing conferences in the world) I was pretty stoked. Before long, people began to come out of the woodwork to tell me things like "The waiters always have the most fun!" and "This is going to be the single greatest experience of your life!" So, needless to say, I boarded the red-eye to Burlington, Vermont, excited as hell.

Being a Bread Loaf waiter turned out to entail all sorts of unexpected trials, and was certainly not "the most fun experience of my life," but for this post, I'd like to focus on the positives—the wonderful things I did get from the experience.

Every single one of my fellow waiters has my heart forever. I mean that. I've never loved people I know so little in my life. They are crazy beautiful, insanely talented, deeply kind human beings, and I feel so fortunate to know them.

The place itself is undeniably gorgeous. Green hills. Yellow flowers. Mist that settles in the fields.

I got to, not only meet, but hear read and workshop poems with one of my all-time poetry idols, Natasha Trethewey. Who, it turns out, is just as much of a gem in person as she is on the page. We may or may not have shared two tearful hugs over the course of the last ten days, which is pretty cool.

I acquired several books of poetry which I can already tell will bless me again and again: Solmaz Sharif's LOOK, Justin Boening's NOT ON THE LAST DAY, BUT ON THE VERY LAST, and Zoe Dzunko's SELFLESS.

While Bread Loaf didn't match my expectations going in (what ever does?) it did give me some major gifts. As I try to adjust back to normal life (and catch up on sleep, and re-gain some weight) I'm holding onto these gifts with a tight, tight grasp.

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