Monday, February 04, 2008

Poet in New York

So how did the AWP Conference go? Pretty well, I think. I arrived a bit later than planned on Wednesday, due to a weather back-up at La Guardia but, as you may remember, I thought I might never get to New York at all. I stayed at the Roosevelt Hotel on Madison, which was about three-quarters of a mile from the Hilton and much less expensive. It was a nice place; one of those classic older but well-kept hotels one finds in big cities--it reminded me of the Midland Hotel in Chicago. There were a lot of Europeans staying at the Roosevelt. It was rare to hear anyone speaking English, but for the English and Irish tourists.

I didn't sense that anyone else staying at the Roosevelt was also attending the Conference, making the hotel a good place to get away from it all in the evening.

On Wednesday night, I had dinner with my daughter Hannah, who is a senior at Eugene Lang College in Greenwich Village, a small liberal arts college that is part of The New School. It was so good to see her; also a relief to be with someone who knew how to get around in New York.

I attended a couple of events on Thursday, but spent most of my time catching up with Dr. Roy Jacobstein and Heather Sellers (a colleague at Hope College), and getting ready for the panel on Poetry and Religion, which began at 4:30 that afternoon. I also met the poet Diane K. Martin. Hello, Diane! My fellow panelists (Marianne Boruch, Laura Kasischke, Dr. Roy, and Robert Thomas) did an excellent job with the topic and I was pleased with how things went, though I later found there was some dissent on this.* To the woman in the audience who said something particularly nice about one of my poems in Figured Dark, my special thanks. I was serious, by the way, about the dinner offer. Afterwards, Marianne, her husband, Dr. Roy, Robert and I went out to celebrate, in the company of the poet Joy Mansiotis. We went to a Turkish restaurant over on 9th Avenue, not far from Times Square. The food was excellent, the conversation sparkling, and I am sorry that we broke the table we were sitting at. Dr. Roy and I made a quick post-dinner stop at The Bar Nine on 9th Avenue, where the Warren Wilson party was in full swing, said hello to everyone, and headed back to our hotels.

On Friday I attended several panels, and then signed copies of Figured Dark at the University of Arkansas Press booth. I will probably miss several people, but my particular thanks to the poets Jo MacDougal, William Wenthe, Christine Rhein (about whom more, later), Norman Stock, Dawn McDuffie, Bernadette Geyer, and Jeffrey Harrison for stopping by to purchase copies of the book and to say hello. Wonderful also to visit with the fiction writer Judy French and her amazing young student, and (of course) with the good people from the University of Arkansas Press.

After a weather-related travel nightmare, Marcia rolled into the Roosevelt Hotel at 12:30 a.m. Saturday, and all was right with the world.

On Saturday afternoon, Hannah took us on a tour of Greenwich Village and the Lower East Side. We saw The New School, saw the wooden boat Hannah and several classmates are building--a huge, sea-going row boat--went to Hannah's office (she is the editor of The Free Press, the student newspaper at the New School), stopped by The Strand Bookstore (great bookstore, not-so-great poetry selection) and ended up having some wonderful French-Morrocan food at a little bistro in the Village. It was fun to see some of the places--and even meet a few of the people--Hannah has told us about.

During the course of the Conference, I went through the Book Fair several times and picked up a number of new books, but not as many as I would have liked, were $$$ not so severe a constraint on this trip. I also had a chance--at long-last--to meet Mary Biddinger and her friends from The Barn Owl Review. Hello, Mary!

On Sunday, we went to the Metropolitan Museum (about which more, later), walked back along Central Park, and had the most remarkable brunch at an Italian place called Bice (pronounced "BEE-chay," I think). Yes, they will serve food in heaven, and the ravioli at Bice will be a daily special. We caught most of the Super Bowl back at the room, interrupted by a second-quarter/halftime dinner (again, remarkably good) in the hotel dining room, with occasional trips into the crowded lobby bar to check on the game's progress. Props to the New York Giants.

Oh, and special thanks to my compadre, Todd Davis.

Here are a couple of photographs, courtesy of Hannah's digital camera. More later!

Hannah and her Dad at lunch near the Eugene Lang/New School campus.

With Marcia, same place.

*One blogger, who for the moment shall remain nameless, said that our panel "SUCKED" and singled out my presentation as having engaged in particularly notable inhalation methodologies. Such assessments are a risk one runs with when a panel cuts so deeply into the cocktail hour.


Blogger Reb said...

Did I see you Sat. night at the hotel bar? Someone, who might have been you, walked by smiling at me and I smiled back, but wasn't sure and I got a little paranoid thinking what if it isn't Greg and this guy thinks I'm giving him the eye, so I turned away. Anyhow, if that was you (it was really dark in there), my apologies.


9:34 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


I dont think that was me, but I do think I saw you on Thursday morning in the Hilton Hotel bar-area. I was sitting at a table feverishly cutting the suckier parts of my sucky presentation and didn't have time to stop by and say Hello.

9:52 PM  
Blogger Suzanne said...

I was hoping to run into you Greg. I didn't see anyone who even looked like you! These photos are great.

5:52 AM  
Blogger Diane Lockward said...

I was hoping to run into you too, but alas. I do, however, have your wonderful book in my possession. Am about halfway through and think it's just terrific. So phooey to that cranky blogger.

9:54 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

You can use my name, Greg. I'm okay with it. I mentioned you in a second post after you made a comment--mostly about how I think it's cool you posted a response on my blog after I bashed your presentation. Again, I was NOT judging you as a person. I was NOT judging your book (as Diane seems to suggest--I haven't read your book and I'm not "cranky" about that). I think it takes a great deal of guts to present to a room of teachers and writers. Good for you. I suppose I was expecting something completely different from what you presented. To that, I say phooey. Also, I'd like to consider myself "gifted" rather than "cranky." :)

1:59 PM  
Blogger jenni said...

Nice pics, Greg. Some people do tend to get upset when you ut into their happy hour . . . (Not that I would know)!

Wish I could've met you, maybe next year!

5:48 PM  
Blogger Karen J. Weyant said...

What beautiful women you have in your life, Greg! :) know Todd Davis? The same Todd Davis who wrote Some Heaven? I love that book!

7:38 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


I am very sorry that I didn't get a chance to meet you all, as well. Perhaps next year in Chicago? I hope so. In the meantime, we have our little comunity on the blogosphere, and that is important to me.

I am grateful all of you are there.


I am sorry that you did not like the presentation, sorrier that you did not like the panel; but tastes in such things vary. You bought the ticket, as the saying goes, you took the ride. You are therefore free to think and say pretty much anythng you like (or don't) about what you heard.

I do not agree with your opinion, however.

For the moment, I must also decline the kind offer (set forth on your blog) to stick rubber implements up my nose. If you did that, I'm afraid I would find it impossible to breathe while I "sucked."

No hard feelings though; you seem like a really fun person. I will be adding you to my blog roll; if you don't mind, that is.

7:47 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


Uhmm, I mant to write "community."


Yes, that Todd Davis.

He's a great guy as well as a great poet.


8:03 PM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...

And I meant to write "meant."

Maybe I do suck.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Susan Och said...

Maybe is you blow instead, those rubber things will dislodge from your nose?

Sorry. To someone who doesn't attend poetry conferences this is one funny set of blog comments. All of that perusal of other folks from afar, and then the casual "You suck" thrown in.

Greg, how nice to see a picture of you with Hannah.

9:09 PM  
Blogger Susan Och said...

And of course I meant to type "Maybe if......."

Darn beer!

9:11 PM  
Blogger Talia said...

Your daughter is beautiful.

AWP in Chicago next year?

9:46 PM  
Blogger Diane K. Martin said...

Hi Greg,

I'm happy I was the Diane you did run in to. Going around AWP as a FOR (Friend of Robert -- Thomas, that is) was a lot of fun. He was sweet and always introduced me to people.

BTW, dunno if the Roosevelt was cheaper than the Hilton at special conference rates.

And Hanna is very striking.

10:00 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Ha! Greg, you are one funny man. I'm glad you have a sense of humor. Roll away and I'll roll you as well. Cheers.

11:39 PM  
Blogger Hannah said...

Bonjour, mon cher! You used the photo I did not like. Ah, c'est la vie, non? We have no control over how we are represented.

I miss you guys, and wish you were still in New York. Thank you for the wonderful time. Call me this weekend. I will be reading about genocide, and will need cheering up.

I saw Persepolis and There Will Be Blood over the weekend--I recommend both movies very highly. Send Carlos and Liam to a baby-sitter and see There Will Be Blood. Doesn't deserve Best Film, but it's high up there, and Daniel Day Lewis definitely deserves Best Actor. The kid who plays the preacher in the movie also attends my school (He played the Nietzsche-loving, would-be-pilot in Little Miss Sunshine. This character in There Will Be Blood is straight out of a Flannery O'Connor book).

Keep your eyes peeled for a new issue of the Free Press. I have an article coming out about a union protest at our school (There is a 15-foot inflatable rat outside of the building on 11th Street), and the paper is now completely redesigned. I'll send you the PDF this weekend.

Much love, papa!


12:19 AM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


There are a couple of other photos I want to post, but I can't figure to how to (pemanently) spin then so they appear "upright" on the page instead of sideways.

I will work on that.

Yes, Marcia and I saw that rubber rat in front of Grand Central Station several years ago, when the food workers were on strike. That rat rocks.

Or maybe he sucks.

In any event, I wouldn't want him shoved up my nose.

6:03 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

I haven't heard of There Will Be Blood but I assume it's a documentary on AWP?

10:27 AM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Thank you for the offer of dinner. I was gripped with temporary (??) insanity following the panel & fled the room. It was nothing personal. I'm just very shy.

10:43 AM  
Blogger greg rappleye said...


Oh my God, That was you!?!

I DO owe you dinner!

Next time you are back in Grand Haven?

Or next time I am in Iowa City!

12:19 PM  
Blogger Penultimatina said...

What a delight to meet you, Greg! Hope to see you in Chicago, too.

12:26 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Oh, you don't owe me dinner. I don't know. I'll let you know if I'm going to pass through West Michigan anytime in the near distant future. Are you coming to Iowa City?

12:56 AM  
Blogger Leslie said...

As my nephew would say, 'holy cwap!'

So, yes, I am officially declaring myself present for Chicago next year. At the risk of taking a bullet, wanna do a panel?

The pix are lovely. And AWP seems to have been another long strange trip.

Party on.

Inhalation methodology indeed. Too funny.

8:53 AM  

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