Mercy! Has it really been 17 days since Rabbit Heart Poetry Film Festival wrapped? It feels like it was just this last weekend, and I am still absolutely flying from it. We had a spectacular weekend celebrating poetry on film – you can see all the good stuff here (pictures) and here  (the finalists) and here (all the films), if you weren’t able to make it, or if you want to relive it (highly recommended! Omg, so much good work!)

I feel like I came out of this year better than I went into it – it’s been a slammin’ year, y’all.* And I was about a week behind the whole time. And I got super ambitious halfway through when I realized we had a glut of Very Good Submissions, so I decided we needed a second day of showings, but hadn’t really thought about the work that entailed (oops). So what I’m saying is that, whoa – I’m kinda proud of myself for getting it together on time.

But more than that, I’m still awash in all the feels about the the festival itself. In a nutshell, even with a couple of late-presenting snafus, it went off beautifully, and I was thrilled with the shows. But more than that, I was thrilled with the connections that happened.

Friends came from across state and out of state. There were lots of hugs, and people got to reunite and to meet each other – some of them who had learned about each other just online. Makers met makers and talked about the things that makers talk about when you get them together. It was more than I could have hoped for.**

Looking down the barrel of the afterparty,*** I very much expected that when everything was put to bed this year, I would be exhausted. But instead I put it down feeling invigorated, inspired, and excited.

One of the things I do at festival is catch as much footage as I can of people talking about the festival. Mostly it’s because I love a souvenir (and also, it’s for grant apps), and there’s nothing nicer than a moving snapshot, hello. But also, it’s because I am a curious creature who’s generally engaged in some research, and primary sources are the best thing in the world for research purposes. So I asked questions – I asked about process, and about favorites, and about what it’s like to be a judge or a filmmaker, or an audience member. I asked What made you do this? I asked How does it feel on this side of the curtain? I asked What do you think about the short film format? I asked How did you pick your collaborators? And it turns out that I know some super smart people who have super smart answers, and I was bowled over, and humbled, and overjoyed to hear the answers.

Let me back up a minute, too – when I was making the reels for the showcases, one of them was a Best of Worcester reel. And as I was putting it together, something that I already actually knew stuck a finger out at me and pointed: I live in a pretty concentrated hotbed of talented people. And even tho’ I come from that point of privilege, I don’t often really focus sharply on it – but there it was, in full focus, and staring right out at me. Then I widened my scope a bit and saw that the people whom I choose to be in touch with and collaborate with, here at home and far out in the world, are a pretty phenomenal bunch overall. Not only is this a talented gang, it is an ambitious gang of doers and makers and happeners. And I am honored to be among them. Then I stepped back from the computer, ran a hot bath, and proceeded to have a good, full-of-gratitude sob.

So, armed with footage and retrospection, I have been listening, I have been thinking, and I have been digesting. Here’s what I’ve come to understand:

1. While sometimes we’re kind of crappy at seeing each other’s gifts (there’s only so many hours in a day, y’all), we generally do see them, even if it’s in glimpses. I’m making it my business to pay better attention. Call it a resolution, name it a call to arms, say what you will – I want to see you better, and if possible, get you. Also, I want you to get me.

2. Something beautiful about this scene is that we expect success out of each other. We don’t naysay, because we don’t want to be naysaid. We egg each other on because we want to see each other put their best work into the world. And that egging on is what pulls the best out of us all.

3. This act of creating is so freaking Big. There is so much room. There is so much room to celebrate. I do hereby promise to do more celebrating. Let me celebrate you. There’s an endless opportunity to share cake, and personally, I intend to share more cake. Please consider this your invitation to cake.

***

*The pressure started the first week of the new year with sick family and broken appliances and holy-crap-I-forgot-to-order-oil, and it just didn’t let up – the roof leaked into the living room, and Dearest Will’s mother passed away over the summer and, Jan’s funeral was the day the roofers showed up, and they managed to trash our garden in the process of fixing the roof, and and and… Yeh, you get the picture.

I mean, it wasn’t all bad – good stuff happened, too. For example, I finished a novel and started another one, and Will got to go to Paris for a week, and Our Man Cub started his senior year and is learning to drive now. It’s just been very very very full, and, um, kinda stressful.

**Let me tell you a secret: a few weeks before festival I was super down. I was really worried about ticket sales, and, being an introvert, was overwhelmed and afraid that I was about to throw a party that no one was going to come out for. And I was afraid it was because no one liked me, or because I was out of synch and the thing I wanted to bring to the table wasn’t something that anyone else wanted anywhere near the table, and whine whine whine whine. I found myself in a couple conversations where I was all, And I don’t see how we can do this next year at all! And, uh, yeh – welcome to a bad case of the jitters. Sister, it was ugly. Thank goodness for Jenith, who talked me down off that ledge.

***The afterparty, as I like to call it, involves coming home from the awards ceremony and flipping all the YouTube channel stuff on, downloading and touching up pictures, updating the WordPress site, and tweeting ’til I can’t tweet no more with all the info on the winners. Around 4 am or so I crash for a few hours and then continue to touch up latecoming photos for the WordPress site, and compile footage for a grant app. And then I spend a few days finishing up the next year’s grant app, and writing the reimbursement on this year’s grant app. It all takes roughly four to ten days. This year it took ten days.

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