The last few days my wife, Louise and I have been in San Antonio, Texas, for the 53th annual Popular Culture Association / American Culture Association 53rd annual conference. I was presenting “The Niagara Way of Death: Depictions of Death and Near-Death in the Poetry of Niagara Falls,” a more academic, but briefer version of a presentation that I had done at the Lundy’s Lane Historial Society meeting earlier in the week. The panel that I was on, “Poetry Studies & Creative Poetry IV: Forgetting What the Fox Says: Nature in Pop Culture” included presentations by Li Zhuang, Marlon Fick, and Gwen Hart. and the whole poetry stream of the PCA conference (8 sessions over 2 days) had been organized by Professor Katie Manning. It was a good combination of creative poetry and more theoretical presentations. One of the interesting discussions that followed was about overcoming imposter syndrome, the feeling that despite skills, talents, and accomplishments people have an internalized feeling of being a fraud. That feeling is what prompted me to get my MA degree in Popular Culture after I retired, to give solid academic credentials to the work that I have been doing for decades with the Niagara Falls Poetry Project. The stream ended with dinner at the Iron Cactus Mexican Grill, on the San Antonio RiverWalk.
Louise and I had never been to San Antonio before, so after the PCA sessions finished, we took the opportunity to explore the surroundings somewhat. The most notable feature was the RiverWalk, designed in the 1920s to control the flooding that happened on the river that snakes through San Antonio. The river is controlled by a series of sluice gates that can divert flood water from the area, keeping the water level stable even after torrential rains, which we did experience on the first two days of the conference. The RiverWalk is lined by bars, restaurants, shops, and some cultural attractions, including the Briscoe Western Art Museum which features great paintings, statues, and artifacts of Texan culture, one of the highlights of our visit there. San Antonio was founded on the backs of 5 Spanish missions, including the Alamo. We took a tour of the 4 outlying missions in the rain one day, which included a stop at an aqueduct crossing the San Antonio River, notable because I say a yellow-crowned night-heron, a lifetime sighting for me. The next day the rain had stopped, the temperature was higher, and we took a guided tour of the Alamo, including the collection that Phil Collins, who has been fascinated by the Alamo since he was a young boy, had donated.
Unfortunately, our time had to come to an end, so after a boat tour on the RiverWalk and a visit to the Mexican market, we headed to the airport.