Millicent Bórges Accardi
Founded in 1926, the famed Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference boasts an amazing literary and intellectual tradition, each summer, gathering together both emerging and seasoned writers, working closely together with a diverse and talented faculty. There are small-group workshops, as well as readings and lectures, with literary conversations taking place throughout the day and into the night. For many, merely the notion of Bread Loaf is magical.
This summer three Latino poets and CantoMundo fellows, Carolina Ebeid, Javier Zamora, and Diana Marie Delgado will head to the prestigious conference in the Green Mountains of Ripton, Vermont.
Carolina Ebeid was granted a 2015 NEA Creative Writing Fellowship in Poetry and has received awards and fellowships from the Stadler Center, CantoMundo, Bread Loaf Writers Conference, and the Academy of American Poets. Recent work appears in Sixth Finch, Gulf Coast, Linebreak and the Colorado Review, and her first book will be published by Noemi Press in 2016 as part of their Akrilica series. She holds an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers, and has begun a PhD in the University of Denver’s creative writing program. She helps edit poetry at Better: Culture & Lit.
Diana Marie Delgado — Growing up in La Puente, California, she is a graduate of the poetry programs at the University of California-Riverside and Columbia University. Her writing has appeared in the Indiana Review, North American Review, Prairie Schooner, Fourteen Hills and Ploughshares. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Javier Zamora — Born in La Herradura, El Salvador in 1990, he migrated to the United States when he was nine. He is a scholarship recipient from Napa Valley, Squaw Valley, and VONA; and holds fellowships from CantoMundo, Colgate University, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Zamora’s poems appear or are forthcoming in Narrative, Ploughshares, POETRY, and The Kenyon Review. He is the winner of Meridian’s Editor’s Prize, CONSEQUENCE’s poetry prize, and the Organic Weapon Arts Chapbook Contest.
Before Bread Loaf reconvenes, these three CantoMundo fellows agreed to answer a few questions about what they are looking forward to and, perhaps, ignite some of the mysteries and secrets about the famous writers’ conference.
PQ: Have you been to Bread Loaf?
Carolina Ebeid: Yes; last summer I applied to be a waiter. My Stadler buddy, Jamaal May, told me I should apply as a waiter because the experience would be unbelievably fun. He was right.
As a waiter, one not only participates in the conference—taking part in the workshops, attending readings and lectures, etc.—he/she also helps facilitate the conference from behind the scenes, which allows for instant, full immersion into Bread Loaf. I appreciate the bonds that took hold among our little collective of waiters.
Again, I’ll be attending Bread Loaf, and also helping to run it. I was invited to be part of the social staff, which handles the conference’s parties and happy hours.
Diana Delgado: I haven’t. I was on a losing streak. Stopped applying. Applied again and I’m in now.
Javier Zamora: I had the rare privilege to attend back in 2010, when I was 20 years old, and still had no real idea what I was doing in this poetry world I’d just learned about. Through Rebecca Foust, the poet who introduced me to poetry, I heard about the conference and about all the different scholarships. When she screamed, jumped up, and ran all over her house, I still had no idea how prestigious the “waiter-ship” position was. To me, it seemed like work, an opportunity to pay for my attendance, and not at all something I should be running around the house for. Once there, I still had no real idea how fortunate I was, how rare it was for me to be there at such a young age, so yes, I did take a lot of things for granted.
I’d never taken a college poetry class, never had a real workshop, and absolutely did not know all the names that were thrown my way in class, at readings, and the parties after. I felt lost. But, I had a notebook in which I wrote the names of writers I’d never heard of. The night Alberto Rios and Yusef Komunyakaa read back to back, I was brought to tears, I had goosebumps, I was moved. I’d never had a reaction like that. That moment truly convinced me to say, “I want to do what these people do.”
PQ: What will you be working on while you are there?
Delgado: I’ll be workshopping a prose poem collection titled, “People to Run From.” It’s a bildungsroman of sorts. A warped autobiography rooted in non-fiction and poetic license.
PQ: What scholarships/fellowship were you awarded?
Zamora: I’ve been awarded a tuition scholarship, which covers the cost of tuition. I will give a short reading with other Tuition scholars, and that’s about all I know. I’m excited to learn more and to meet the other Tuition Scholars.
Delgado: I’ll be waiting tables. Work-study. I’m a bit nervous because I can be forgetful, but everyone that I’ve checked with says the wait staff get super tight, and so I figure how bad can things go when you have a gang of super-tight poets on your side?
PQ: What are you looking forward to?
Ebeid: First and foremost: the lectures/readings. I’m more comfortable listening than I am talking or writing, and Bread Loaf affords many chances to simply sit and listen. Last year, my imagination revitalized by Marianne Boruch. She was my workshop leader, gracious, and brilliant, and quirky. She thinks and explains in images. I’ve never liked the word quirky before now. I’m of course looking forward to seeing friends again, and being surprised by new friendships. Also, there is a bonfire one night wherein we give our bodies wholly over to s’mores.
Delgado: Building relationships with new writers who are on the cusp of something great. People who work hard. People who like to laugh. I say people because what I look forward to is meeting good people who happen to be writers. Those are the kind of writers who inspire me the most
Zamora: I left Bread Loaf 2010 with so many friendships; we’d all shared our own writing, drank together, and listened to poems and stories together. I felt close to the other waiters, we’d created a community, which I did not know could happen at a writing conference. I’m excited to have that opportunity again. An opportunity to also rub shoulders with my heroes.
That’s crazy! I hope I can have at least a word with people like Helena Maria Viramontes, Terrance Hayes, Afaa Michael Weaver, etc. Opportunities that also make me nervous and anxious. I don’t want to say the wrong thing. I don’t want to be overly obvious of my groupie-ness lol.
PQ: What places are you planning on visiting outside of the conference?
Ebeid: There is a nice hike that leads to a swimming hole. I’d like to go there again. I’m sure there are writers’ ghosts haunting the place; they are everyplace.
Delgado: I’ve been so busy that I have not even built my itinerary. Which I should. It’s always good to go somewhere new and have one destination point plotted out.
PQ: What scares you?
Ebeid: By day five, it can feel there was never a life outside of Bread Loaf.
Delgado: I joked recently in a social media post that I dreamt I got into Bread Loaf but Sean Penn showed up and asked for my green card. Now, I know that won’t happen at Bread Loaf, but I am on the hunt for diversity, big and small to illustrate the true canon of talented writers that are writing – write now.
PQ: What rumors or myths have you heard?
Delgado: That it’s Burning Man for Writers. A pagan place writers go to break the rules, get drunk, and rut in the grass. Now, do I think this really happens?