How is it possible that a few days before the conference I was all in a tizzy, wondering: should I really go? I was fretting about family, schedules, money, my suitcase (okay, yes, the extendible handle did come off in the Detroit airport, leaving me to race for a tight connection galumping and thumping down three concourses, clutching in my other hand long metal fangs just a tad more dangerous than nail clippers. Amusingly, these were handed to me by an agent who would not let me retrieve my own suitcase—for security reasons. She wrenched off the handle during transport, and handed me, with the suitcase, these long metal shards. WTF?)
River Teeth also sponsors one of the most competitive literary nonfiction book contests in the nation, judged this year by Cheryl Strayed (Wild, Tiny Beautiful Things). The winner will receive $1,000 and publication by the UNM Press. NILA’s brilliant and wonderful Ana Maria Spagna is a previous River Teeth finalist.
The best thing that happened for me at the conference was an erasure. I was not very conscious of some other baggage I lugged to the conference: a composite character I have met too often, who looks up from my manuscript and says: “I lose interest when I hit the sciency stuff.” At River Teeth, I found my readers—or at least reader—with incontestable credentials. He told me: “the sciency stuff is where you soar.” And I have been soaring ever since.