No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Key West Literary Seminar-III

January 11, 2010

Photobucket Richard Wilbur

Photobucket Mark Strand

Photobucket E.J. Miller-Laino

Key West Literary Seminar-III

Photobucket Dara Wier, Yosef Komunyakaa, Rita Dove, Rhina Espaillat, Timothy Steele, Kirby Condon & Richard Wilbur

The crazy weather that Key West has experienced at the beginning of the new decade continued throughout the duration of the Literary Seminar. I felt bad that all the people who came to the island from across the nation had to experience the record cold weather. It was as cold as I can ever recall in the almost 20 years that I have been here, It rained most of the day Saturday and was very cold and windy throughout the weekend.

Photobucket Paul Muldoon


The inclement weather did have the positive effect of keeping almost all of the sessions at or near capacity as the registrants did not have the option to take a day to go to the beach or go snorkeling. Panelist Mark Strand did manage to get in a half day of fishing and the dolphin fish he caught was made into a tasty ceviche by our friends at Bad Boy Burrito and served at one of the receptions.




Trying to reflect on what were the hi-lights of the seminar is really impossible for me, the best sense of it can probably be garnered from reading the wonderful coverage provided by Arlo Haskell on the seminar’s “Littoral” section of their website (link below).

Photobucket Suzy, Maxine & Victor

Certainly one reading that everyone was anxious to hear was that of the honoree, Richard Wilbur, which was the main event Saturday evening. Another packed house as registrants and speakers alike jammed into the San Carlos to hear his reading. It f\did not disappoint, as the crowd listened in rapt attention as one of America’s iconic living poets delivered an amazing reading.


Photobucket Maxine Kumin

Photobucket Jane Hirshfield

Following Wilbur’s reading the annual party for the seminar at the Customs House was held late into Saturday evening. Art, great food, specialty drinks by Jason Rowan of Embury cocktails and entertainment by Melody Cooper’s delightful singing, all made for a wonderful evening. Even Rita Dove took a turn at the microphone, delighting the crowd by singing a few numbers.

Photobucket Ashley & Doug



The seminar wrapped up on Sunday with a final morning session followed by the usual free and public session that is traditionally held on the final day. The local crowd lined up down the street and every seat in the San Carlos was full again.


Photobucket Arlo, Erica, Matthea & Robert

Sunday evening was full again with the dinner for workshop participants sandwiched by two closing parties. One hosted by Jacob Dekker & John Padgett for the panelists and a second more raucous gathering for the staff and friends at the home of Arlo Haskell. It was a fun and fitting ending for what was a wonderful first experience for me as a seminar insider. Thanks so much to all the wonderful volunteers who made my job so easy, especially Margaret & Doug, to all the staff and board members and to the wonderful speakers who shared their beautiful work.

Photobucket Michael, Margit, Doug & Margaret

Photobucket S. Erin's hands

Photobucket Elena & Ashley


Embury Cocktails

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Key West Literary Seminar-II

January 10,

Photobucket Richard Wilbur, Rita Dove, Mark Strand, Kay Ryan, Billy Collins & Robert Pinsky

Photobucket Rita Dove & David Wolkowsky

Photobucket Billy Collins

Key West Literary Seminar-II

Photobucket Elena & Ian

The incredible exploration of the past 60 years of American Poetry at this year’s Key West Literary Seminar continued throughout the week with incredible readings inter-spaced with lively and often humorous panel discussions with the panelists during which the meaning and mechanics of the creative process were more fully explored.

Photobucket Rhina & Alfred

Photobucket Erica Dawson, Rhina Espaillat, Rachel Hadas & Maxine Kumin

I kept busy much of the weekend, overseeing the wonderful volunteers while trying to slip in and see as much of the seminar as possible. I really enjoy meeting the fascinating people who attend the seminar. The registrants come from around the country as the seminar has truly reached world-class status and many of the attendees are poets and writers themselves. It makes for a tremendous audience as well, which the writers who come always seem to appreciate.

Photobucket Rhina


Photobucket Judith, Liz & Claudia

The seminar offers plenty of opportunity to socialize as there is some sort of social gathering every evening. Receptions, performances, parties and the like, all of which are attended by the panelists and attendees alike, giving people a chance to mingle and chat with their literary heroes in a relaxed and intimate setting that is not found at most literary events.

Photobucket Richard Wilbur, Rita Dove, Mark Strand, Kay Ryan, Billy Collins & Robert Pinsky

Photobucket Rita, David & Michael

In addition there are a couple of smaller, more intimate private functions that are for the writers, board and staff of the seminar which allow the writers to interact with each other in a more private setting. One of these is the annual party hosted by David Wolkowsky at his fascinating roof-top apartment and which features many of the local glitterati as well . as the seminar crowd.

Photobucket Sharon & Ashley

Photobucket Billy, Suzannah & Kay

Photobucket Elena, Jason, Nan & Mark

Wolkowsky is a legendary figure in Key West literary history. He famously developed the Pier House resort and has entertained a virtual who’s who either at the resort he developed, at his amazing private island home on Ballast Key or at the funky rooftop location that he once again opened for the seminar writers.



Photobucket Curt Richter

The apartment features an incredible collection of fascinating works of art, curios and full of memorabilia from his incredible life. But really the people gathered are the most interesting and the Poets and Writers seem to feel a sense of ease and relaxation while there. It was an amazing evening.

Photobucket Shakti & Ian

Photobucket Sharon, John & Curt

You would think that working for fourteen hours then attending receptions and parties would be enough for one day, but many of the working crew of the seminar and our friends headed out for some late night celebrating at the Green Parrot. It made for a very long but fully satisfying day.

Photobucket Martha, Elena, Frank & Lera

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Key West Literary Seminar-I

January 9, 2010

Photobucket Robert Pinsky


Photobucket Kay Ryan & Jane Hirshfield

Key West Literary Seminar-I

Photobucket Richard & Elena in "The Suitors"

The 28th Annual Key West Literary Seminar, “Clearing The Sill of The World: A Celebration of 60 Years of American Poetry” was held this week in honor of Key West’s own previous Poet Laureate of the United States, Richard Wilbur. It featured one of the greatest assemblages of American Poets ever including the current U.S. Poet Laureate Kay Ryan, six previous poets laureate and seven Pulitzer Prize winning poets as well as many other esteemed poets and presenters.

Photobucket Miles

Photobucket Erica Dawson & Rhina Espaillat

For the past 15 years, I have been an attendee of the Seminar, but this year I was invited to join the Board of Directors and to take over the position of Volunteer Coordinator for my friend Bob Muens, who has relocated to Washington DC. It was a lot of work organizing, but I was blessed with a wonderful group of dedicated regular volunteers that I inherited from Bob including the wonderful and invaluable Margaret Elliot and Doug Mack, who travels at his own expense from Minneapolis to volunteer.

Photobucket Margaret & Kathy

Photobucket Sharon & Amanda

It was very exciting and a great privilege to be able to participate in all the events that make up the Seminar. It began Wednesday evening at the airport, where a group of board members met to pick up the arriving writers. I was assigned to pick-up the wonderful Poet (and former Poet Laureate) Maxin Kumin, her husband Victor and assistant Suzy and deliver them to their lodging. Next it was on to a wonderful dinner at Azur restaurant for all the Poets. Kathy & I somehow landed a seat at the table with honoree Richard Wilbur, Billy Collins and Suzannah Gilman. I can’t even to begin to describe what a great and rare treat that was, so I won’t even try.

Photobucket Kay Ryan, Timothy Steele & Richard Wilbur

Photobucket James Tate

Photobucket Rita Dove

The seminar itself began early for me on Thursday as my volunteers began assembling to help check in the 375 registrants arriving to attend the seminar. Registration lasted most of the day and into the evening prior to the John Hersey Memorial Address delivered this year by yet another U.S. Poet Laureate, Robert Pinsky. He delivered a mesmerizing address to get things kicked off before the entire crowd headed over to the Audubon House for a Champagne reception.

Photobucket Mark Strand

Photobucket Jason Rowan

Photobucket Richard, Bill & Monica

Friday, the seminar kicked into high gear with an onstage photo shoot of the esteemed panel followed by a day long series of readings and panel discussions featuring panelists such as U.S. Poet Laureates, Wilbur, Ryan, Collins, Kumin, Pinsky, Rita Dove and Mark Strand. New Yorker poetry editor Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer Prize winners Yusef Komunyakaa, Natasha Trethewey and James Tate and esteemed poets Kiby Congdon, Erica Dawson, Rhina Espaillat, Rachel Hadas, Matthea Harvey, Jane Hirshfield, E.J. Miller-Laino, Harvey Sharpiro, Timothy Steele & Dara Wier.

Photobucket Group Photo

Photobucket Yosek Komunyakaa

Photobucket Steele, Dawson, Espaillat, Hadas, Kumin & Wilbur

Friday evening wrapped up with a wonderful cocktail reception and staged reading of Richard Wilbur’s translation of Jean Racine’s comedy, “The Suitors” by a wonderful cast provided by the Red Barn Theatre that featured such local talent as David Black, Elena Devers, Richard Grusin, Joy Hawkins, Danny Weathers, Arlo Haskell, Brandon Beach & John Wells.