Thank you for this entry, Ben. I'm still torn up about her passing, and the fact that I'll never get to meet her, and it helps to read appreciations by people who knew her.
I applied to Clarion that year for the same reason you did -- Octavia Butler was teaching! Alas, I was not chosen to go that year. She remains my favorite writer and a huge influence on my own work. I never knew her, but I'll miss her all the same.