There's one big difference between this conference and others I have attended: conference participants here look less like English professors than like whitewater rafting guides. There's none of that pale, pasty, haunted look that comes from too many hours of communing with the computer, none of that Anguished Artist Angst so common to creative writing conferences.
No, these people look wholesome and fit, as if they're accustomed to teaching classes at the top of mountains accessible only to experienced rock-climbers. They hike, they bike, they commune with the earth--and some are even camping in tents on the campus where the conference is being held. You'd never see that kind of behavior at the MLA.
I may be the least fit person here, but today I'll try to guide a few of them on a tour of some rivers of nostalgia in midwestern poetry. Hope my paper's not all wet.