By Lisa M. Bradley (@cafenowhere)
I’d heard great things about Sirens, but every time I checked the registration page, I thought, “No way can I swing that fee plus room, plus meals, plus flight.” (I didn’t realize how many meals were included in the registration fee!) But when I learned the 2015 theme was rebels and revolutionaries, I knew I had to go. I’ve always felt a bone-deep affinity with rebels.
But if I had to go, I had to get funds. My best bet was to earn a scholarship. While researching for a novel, I’d learned about Sara Estela Ramírez, a Mexican journalist-poet who helped spur the Mexican Revolution while living in exile in Texas. I couldn’t fit her into my novel, but I couldn’t get her out of my mind, either. Sirens seemed the perfect venue for sharing my passion for this all-but-forgotten revolutionary who’d also written fantasy poetry. To my delight, the vetting board approved my proposal and Sirens gave me the hoped-for scholarship.
At the conference, I was warmly welcomed by staff and fellow attendees. Still, I was nervous. What if my topic was too academic? Too regional to attract a wider audience? What if no one came to my presentation?! Happily, my worries were unfounded. I had a small but attentive audience, some of whom scribbled intensely the entire time I talked. People asked questions and offered new insights. Beyond my presentation, I connected with new friends and old, added to my teetering to-be-read pile, attended thought-provoking panels, and tried to absorb all the wisdom offered by the guests of honor. I might also have had a drink or two in the hotel bar.
I am so grateful for the scholarship that enabled me to attend Sirens. The aid demonstrated, in a very concrete way, that my perspective was valued. The conference itself reinforced that message of inclusion. I left invigorated and determined to return to my fellow Sirens.