Monday, November 01, 2004

That full moon shining down on you

What was it Chevy Chase always said on SNL? "I'm Chevy Chase and you're not." Well, I'm not Chevy Chase either, but here's my weekend report. Meacham was one of the most enjoyable one's, for me, at least, in recent memory. Most of this was due to Bradley and Karri being here. We all were undergraduates here together and were in the great poetry program, in the same workshop for three or four years. It was as good as any MFA program and better than most, I'd wager. So we were really close those years, Karri and I especially after Bradley had left for Iowa City. We had similar schedules on the day of our workshop, which was in the evening, so we usually hung out somewhere. It was something I really valued. And, as for Bradley, we were pals, too. It's funny, but his poems, while I was still in high school, were an eye-opener. I visited campus one day, picked up a copy of the student literary mag, and in all the poems there was one that really stood out called "Sugartits." We still laugh about it today, but it was a sign of some larger thing poetry could be, that I knew intuitively, but of course was not being taught in high school. At any rate, we have a long history, the three of us. Bradley's book, The Obvious, is one of the Brenda Hillman selections for New Issues. He read from it Thursday night, tired, with his luggage mistakenly sent to Tallahassee, or some Floridian burg. Even so, the poems were great, despite one person's comically escalating backhanded compliments that stretched through the weekend. The first was meant as constructive criticism but was really kind of dismissive in the final analysis. Realizing how it must've sounded, this person came up later and was going on about how great Bradley's titles were. Ummm. Later, with another realization, the person came up and further compounded matters. It was great. The three of us spent a lot of time together, had lunch and dinner, and really re-connected. I hadn't seen since them since the year before at AWP in Baltimore, where Bradley and Karri live.

I read Saturday afternoon at one in the new, amazingly swank auditorium at the university center. Rick had some bug up his ass about reading times, for some reason. He came up to me and said, "Read four poems. Four. Four poems, I mean it. Everybody last night was under twenty minutes." I'm trying to decide if he wanted a four minute reading; he would be so pissed if I did that. I should have. So I read five poems, all of them shortish. I read:

The Cartoonist in Hell
On Being Asked Who is the You in My Poems

So, probably ten minutes in all, but I think I did well. Ed Hirsch offered me a Guggenheim on the spot. I'm kidding. Lots of good feelings afterwards. Susan Thomas did mention me reading up in New York and the possibility of a gig at the Library of Congress. Not that gig. Ted Kooser is on top of that. But doing a reading there might happen. Which would be unbelievably cool.

And speaking of future readings, Saturday night was a snapshot of my general future with reading invitations (should any actually ever materialize). The final party was in a nice house just off campus. Bradley, Karri and I walked over. Of course, it's totally inaccessible. Bradley had a couple of conferences to do with students so Karri and I sat outside under the carport. The weather was really nice but it was just kind of lame. We were going to leave and head back to my place to hang out but it wasn't long before people came out, milling around, hanging out with us. And the reason I say this is a snapshot of future readings is because this is how it'll go. In the past, I've been scheduled to read in an accessible auditorium, had a university transportation system refuse to transport me because I wasn't a student, been booked in inaccessible hotel rooms, and on and on. All this despite my explicit and simple requests. I don't need anything special, except, you know, the option of getting inside.

A life of adventure, mine.

Still, a great weekend. You should've been there.


Wendy Wisner said...

Sounds like a blast! Very exciting about the New York possibility. Library of Congress sounds pretty damn cool too, but I'm selfish and care more about you coming here. I'll put some feelers out there too about readings here. Ugh, but New York is so not accessible. If you came, though, I'd help you figure it out.

And how cool was it that you, me, and Victoria all had readings on Saturday? It was a blogger-reading-fest.

infozo said...

dude, if you get to the LoC, please please please tell me! I will totally fly up to see it.

Anonymous said...

Met Susan Thomas last night--she won a New England Poetry Club prize for her book. Lovely person and poet. Jodie