Poetry reading (and readings: here comes AWP)

Buds on the maple, daffodils up. The annual faculty reviews are complete; a weeklong visiting writer gig we hosted went well; and the end of my role as Department Head feels closer. Two colleagues seem to be getting through a difficult time with flying colors, and I played a small role in helping them, which feels great. And after winter hibernation I’ve got some conferences and festivals coming up. While travel can be horrible–why are airlines allowed to rebook you at much less convenient times after you’ve carefully chosen the ones that work?!–I’m looking forward to days of art and thinking. AWP next!–my schedule is below.

Meanwhile, a shout-out to two poetry collections I’ve spent time with during the past couple of weeks and just adore. Cynthia Hogue’s instead, it is dark comes out in April–I read an ARC in order to interview her alongside Jeannine Hall Gailey. Hogue’s book begins with the burned villages of World War II France, contemplating how memory survives in fragments and dreams, and then how those historical traumas resonate with contemporary crises. I love the way this collection conjures permeable boundaries between self and other, past and present. The interview (now under submission) discusses, among other things, how these perspectives on time and identity root in transformations triggered by chronic illness and disability. The collection I finished reading yesterday is by Robert Wood Lynn, whose amazing work I found a couple of years ago through Shenandoah submissions. Since then, he won the Yale Younger Poets Prize for Mothman Apologia, a collection strongly rooted in Appalachia. It contains a series of poems from the perspective of Mothman, a West Virginia cryptid, which gives the book a weirdness that always appeals to me; I’m also moved by how it addresses the urgent subjects of poverty, drug crisis, and environmental damage. I’d call it lyric in mode, like Hogue’s work, which to me means sound-driven and personal (even when the poems use persona). Especially for a first collection, it’s startlingly good. And it turns out he lives very near me, although he commutes to NYU as he completes his MFA.

From reading to readings–here’s my AWP schedule:

  • Weds 3/5: Of Gods & Monsters: A Poetry Reading, 6-8 pm, Shawn O’Donnell’s, 508 2nd Avenue (offsite, and I’m coming straight from the airport and reading toward the end)
  • Thurs 3/6: 9:00-10:15, “Occupational Hazards: Teaching and Writing Risk Across Genres” with Jan Beatty, Destiny O. Birdsong, Erika Meitner, and Asali Solomon, Rooms 435-436, Summit Building, Seattle Convention Center, Level 4 (please god let early morning registration be smooth!)
  • Friday, 3/7, 11-12 am, Kestrel Book Fair Table T1300: book-signing with Sally Rosen Kindred–please come say hi!
  • Friday 3/7, 1:45-3, Book Fair Stage 1, Kestrel reading with Donna Long, Marty Lammer, John Hoppenthaler, Sally Rosen Kindred, Rick Campbell, Bonnie Proudfoot, and Doug Van Gundy

I’m so looking forward to seeing far-flung friends–but let there be blanket forgiveness when we miss each other, please, because I’ll also be working NOT to do it all. The tarot card I pulled for the trip was Two of Pentacles reversed; whether or not you believe in the cards’ divinatory powers, surely a timely warning that trying to juggle everything means dropping the ball. My ankle sprain hasn’t healed so I’ll have to limit the running around.

Also, please cross your fingers for me that I sell a few of the books in my carry-on. I need the room so I can bring books home! The bookfair is one of the best things about this conference: signed books by friends and idols, and ideally a few experimental purchases, too, to keep my reading wide.

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