Friday, February 29, 2008

Home Again!



Well, that pretty much rocked.

Details to follow.


____________________________

The Angel and Tobias, Unknown Florentine artist, 15th Century. Note the fish in Tobias' left hand (he will use it to cure Tobit's blindness) and the lttle dog running around the legs of the Archangel Raphael.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

The Most Excellent Indiana Adventure



I will be venturing out into the larger world today, travelling south for a reading at Indiana University at South Bend. I hope to see you there--7 p.m.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

READING AT IUSB!


On the other hand, who the heck cares about reading in the junky towns of Michigan? We're crossing the border, baby, going nationwide. Thursday night at 7 p.m., I'll be reading at Indiana University at South Bend. I am very excited about this---it is a chance to see old friends and to meet (Live! In person!) many new ones--bloggers Charmi Keranen and Talia Reed among them.

If you are in the area, please stop in. It will be much fun, I promise.


...

Mid-term grades are due today.

If you didn't hand in your paper on Monday, you are in so much...oh, I can't say it so early in the morning.

Onward.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Look Homeward, Angel



I have few remaining illusions, but here are two of them. I have always hoped to return to my hometown of Jackson, Michigan, and to my undergraduate school, Albion College, and give readings. Even at the age of 54, I am naive enough, or stupid enough, egotistical enough, or dreamy enough (who knows what defects of character go into such a calculus?) to believe that I have something to say at places that have meant something to me, that what I have to say is worthwhile--perhaps even of some lasting value; that someone in those places might want to read my books and hear what I have to say.

So yes, I have asked for readings over the past eight years. I have, in fact, begged for readings. At Albion, I have been brushed off, ignored, and was finally told several years ago that decisions about who comes to read are "so political--we'll see." So I gave up on the English Department at Albion and sent copies of my books to the History Department (I was a History major) and asked for a reading. I heard nothing back. I sent copies of my latest book to the Public Library in Jackson, and heard nothing back. Finally, I sent a copy of Figured Dark to a small bookstore/coffeehouse in Jackson. I volunteered to recruit a well-known fiction writer to come with me to help assure an audience--though, frankly, I have enough relatives in town to pack the place. I was told that while they could not arrange an actual reading, I could appear for "Local Author Day" in April and sell books, with perhaps a ten-minute opportunity to make a presentation of some sort during the course of the day. In other words, I could participate in a four-hour Gong Show with the women who compiled a mimeograph cookbook of "Favorite Macaroni Dishes of the Methodist Church Altar Guild" and the self-publisher of a book about how the author was abducted by Martians and given an anal probe.

No, thanks.

And yes, I made it clear that I would read for the American poet's standard wages (i.e., nothing) and that--no problem--I would bring my own books.

Is it any wonder that Weldon Kees stepped off the Golden Gate Bridge?

___________________________

Shown is "Thomas Wolfe's angel" from the cemetery at Hendersonville, North Carolina. Wolfe's second book was You Can't Go Home Again, published after his death.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Monday, Redux


I have a busy lawyer day, then my class.


At one time, I meant to be a poet.


TARANTULA

-The American artist Martin Johnson Heade in Brazil,
near the mountain resort of Petroplis, November 2, 1863

Emerald green, spring green, viridian.
Thalo green, cadmium green, and behind all,
along the face of the forty-foot cliff, sea-green lichens,
evergreen moss, a depth of woody, twisting vines––
black, burnt orange, purplish browns––
riotously twined with orchids and flowers
of great variety: passion flowers, gardenias,
flowers sipping moisture from air; their florid colors––
pinks, lavenders, oranges, so many reds––
that color most favored, it would seem, by all
hummingbirds. And the empty hands
of the extravagant palmate leaves
that shade the face of the cliff.
I had gone early that morning, several miles south
of the city, along the Estrada Real
with Capitao Gonzales, his lovely sister Rosa,
her several Negro servants.
My plan––to sketch where I had observed
so many hummers on the carriage ride from Rio.

I was drawing trumpet flowers,
behind me, Rosa and her servants, arranging
a picnic across a rosewood table. The hummingbirds
were Brazilian Rubies––six to eight males––
iridescent green with vibrant, pinkish-red throats––
shining, flaming––throats like hungry mouths.
The body of one hummer could rest in a teaspoon!
The females––there were many–– were
also weaving, buzzing, feeding––the birds,
arrayed against the cliff like vibrant angels.

I found myself in a reverie, working quickly,
frantically, though not conscious of my haste,
my sketch pad in-hand or resting atop
my lap desk, the faint, busy thrum
of the humid, pollen-laden air––a stirring,
when a hummingbird, seemingly oblivious,
passed by my head.

Suddenly, from where
the leaves opened to the deepest dark, a tarantula––
large, hairy, black, no––gray, with fur tips
nearly salmon-colored, big as my fist––
here are my sketches, drawn from a flash of memory––
fairly leapt from behind a leaf
and took a male hummer in midair!
They seemed to hang, shimmering
in the dappled light––a ball
of demonic legs, salmon-tinted fur,
and the iridescent red-and-green of the doomed bird,
the near invisible flutter of wings, a pause
and then the fall––plummeting
into the tangle of darkness and vines.
I shouted, kicked at the wild understory, struck
with a brass-tipped cane
I keep against the fearsome serpents,
but was defeated by the resistant thicket
and the stout tangle of vines.
When Capitao Gonzales came to my shouts,
behind him the lovely Rosa, her servants,
I urged them back, mixing what Portuguese I have––
Batente! Stop! Por favor! And when I turned again,
the monstrous tarantula and its delicate prey,
now beyond every hope, had vanished into the dark
tangle that spread, untrammeled, along the base
of the cliff.

__________________________

NOTE: The illustration is not by Heade.

The stanza at "Suddenly, from where..." is offset in the original. I can't make that work in Blogger.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

In Celebration of a Spring-like Day: Smelt



No, it isn't really Spring, but the thermometer says 45 degrees (F) in the shade, the sky is blue, the snow melting, the sun blindingly brilliant. What could be better for dinner than a mess of fried smelt (from somewhere in Canada, I suppose) a big salad, Spanish rice, some Mexican asparagus, a slice of cherry pie?

Not an entirely authentic Great Lakes dinner, but close enough for February.

New Novel by Samantha Hunt


This morning at our local bookstore, I picked up a copy of The Invention of Everything Else (Houghton Mifflin, 2008), Samantha Hunt's new novel about the last days of the inventor Nikola Tesla. Heidi Julavits writes, "Samantha Hunt's unforgetable dreamscape of a novel is a love letter to New York, to science, to inspiration, to loneliness. Hunt weaves history and imagination to create a seductively original world I wanted to live in forever. The Invention of Everything Else is like nothing else I've read."

You can read Lisa Kunik's interview with Samantha here.

The Washington Post Book World review of The Invention of Everything Else is here.

Samantha was a student at Warren Wilson while I was in the program.

Her debut novel, The Seas (MacAdam/Cage, 2004) was very well reviewed and her work has appeared in places like McSweeney's, The Believer, and The New Yorker.

She is going to be a star, I think.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Of Crows & Fish Dreams



It's only 25 degrees (F) out this morning, but the trees are peppered with crows; the wind, full of the talk of crows.

Something is happening.

Last night I dreamed of the word "eelpout," and began to rhyme it while dreaming, making up little poems.

I started to laugh and woke myself up.

An "eelpout" is a fish, another name for the ling cod, or burbot.

I think winter is coming to its close.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Lunar Eclipse




Life, this vastly mysterious process
to which our culture inures us,
lest we become useless citizens!

-Jim Harrison


It was a clear, cold night in Michigan, and we had quite a bit of fun with the boys watching the spectacular lunar eclipse.

I hope you had the opportunity to see it as well.



___________________

NOTE: This is not a photo of last night's eclipse, though it does appear to be the same moon.

No stunt doubles at S@4AM.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A Few Moments with Guillermo Cabrera Infante



One of my favorite writers is Guillermo Cabrera Infante (1929-2005), the Cuban-born journalist, critic and novelist (though he did not really believe the term "novel" adequately described his work). Cabrera Infante's parents were early members of the Cuban Communist Party, and Cabrera Infante himself was at one time a supporter of the Castro regime and an important Cuban diplomat. He gradually became disenchanted with life under Castro, and went into exile in 1965. Cabrera Infante's Mea Cuba, a collection of essays, reviews, and short pieces (published in the United States by FSG in 1994) is a fascinating and harrowing account of the lives of intellectuals and artists under Castro.* I recommend it to anyone with illusions about the nature of the current Cuban government and the lives of the Cuban people.

The following is part of an interview with Cabrera Infante conducted by Marie-Lise Gazarian Gautier for Dalkey Archive Press.

The entire interview can be found here.

MLGG: The Institute of Literature and Linguistics of the Cuban Academy of Sciences published a dictionary on Cuban literature a few years ago. How is it possible that your name does not appear in it?

GCI: It’s very simple. I turned out to be an enemy, and I am going to explain why. My parents were founders of the Cuban Communist Party, and I grew up extremely poor. When we moved to Havana, my father founded the communist newspaper Hoy. I began my writing career by doing translations for that paper. I also used to participate in many insurrectionary activities against Batista. Many of Cuba’s current literary “heroes” (whose names I am not going to repeat here because it would be giving them free publicity) used to go to Mass every day in those times, and some even worked within Batista’s government. By contrast, Alberto Mora hid in our house for six months at one time, and at great risk, since the second-in-command of Batista’s police lived right next door to us. But it was decided that he should stay at our house because this represented a natural sort of camouflage—nobody in his right mind would hide a fugitive next to the house of a chief of police. I did other things as well, like writing for the clandestine newspaper Revolución with Franqui. When the revolution came to power, I collaborated with it. I was the first delegate of the cultural section of the Ministry of Education sent by the first revolutionary Minister of Education himself. This past is irrevocable; if anyone had credentials to be a part of today’s Cuba it would be I, not Alejo Carpentier or Lezama Lima, because the former lived in Venezuela until the revolution ascended to power and the latter was an official of Batista’s cultural division. So they can never say that I left Cuba because I was the son of filthy rich parents who had ten sugar plantations confiscated. That is impossible. The only way to attack me was to completely eliminate me. My books, for instance, were banned in Cuba, but not because I had made counterrevolutionary declarations. They were banned from the very time when they were published abroad. Three Trapped Tigers never circulated in Cuba, and I had not criticized Fidel Castro’s government at that time. So why did they ban this book? Because there was the possibility that, since I was abroad, I would sooner or later become a counterrevolutionary. There were also certain literary cliques and political interests which contributed to drawing a curtain of silence around me. I first came out against Castro in June 1968, fifteen months after my book had been published, and you cannot imagine how quickly a void was created around me. I ceased appearing in anthologies. I could tell you about a series of anthologies where they mentioned literally anyone, and I didn’t appear. So it does not surprise me that I am not mentioned in that book.

MLGG: In an interview you held in Caracas, you described Fidel Castro as the “Stalin of the Caribbean.” Nevertheless, your parents had portraits of Stalin and Jesus in their house in the 1930s. Why these apparent contradictions?

GCI: I can explain quite simply why we had both a portrait of Stalin and one of Jesus. My mother had been educated at a convent, and she had been converted to communism by my father during Stalin’s most rampant period, at the beginning of the 1930s. So she had two gods, God in heaven and god on earth. The comparison between Castro and Stalin is not really so farfetched if you consider that here are two men who eliminated practically all their enemies, amassing all the power for themselves. But in certain respects the comparison is not apt. A better parallel would be with Hitler, for instance in the massive mobilization of people. Specifically, Castro would bring millions of Cubans to the Plaza de la Republica, while Hitler drew two or three million Germans to Nuremberg or Berlin. They both used loudspeakers, extreme body language, and could employ their voices in a particularly inflammatory, moving manner, in the sense that they could sway their audiences in one direction or the other. They were both great actors, at the peak of their powers when performing before the masses. All these factors make the comparison more plausible. Of course, there is one great difference between them: Fidel Castro never wrote a Mein Kampf. He was a surprise Hitler, because he never delivered what he promised: to reinstitute the Constitution of 1940 and return Cuba to a democratic state, with free elections. Hitler, on the other hand, did exactly what he set out in Mein Kampf, down to the extermination of the Jews.

MLGG: Who is Guillermo Cabrera Infante?

GCI: I would prefer that we leave my striptease to a more private place.



____________________________

* I have the hardcover here--somewhere--on my bookshelves. The paperback is pictured.

___________________________

Happy Birthday, Carson McCullers!



Happy Birthday to Carson McCullers, born on February 19, 1917, in Columbus, Georgia. Her first (and most well-known) novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter (1940), explores "the spiritual isolation of misfits and outcasts of the South."

Her other novels include:

Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941)
The Member of the Wedding (1946)
and
Clock Without Hands (1961)

She also wrote The Ballad of the Sad Cafe (1951), a collection of short stories, which includes the novella The Ballad of the Sad Cafe.

McCullers died on September 29, 1967.

FIDEL CASTRO RESIGNS!





Papa and El Supremo















Not to be a pig about this, but could a box of these be coming my way in the near future?

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Thinking of Dante



Midway on life's journey, I found myself
In dark woods, the right road lost. To tell
About those woods is hard––so tangled and rough

And savage that thinking about it now, I feel
The old fear stirring: death is hardly more bitter.

-From The Inferno, Canto I, Lines 1-5,
Robert Pinsky translation

Friday, February 15, 2008

Another Reason to Love Robert Thomas



Stop by at Blackbird and check out Robert's great new poem!

Here.

Another Reason to Love New York



The coloratura soprano Julia Kogan singing the poems of Joseph Brodsky while swigging from a bottle of Maker's Mark.

Be still, my beating heart!

Here.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

Congratulations to Brent Goodman


Brent Goodman has great news this morning. Stop by and show him the love.

Here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Wonderful Review of Figured Dark

I came home from a long and harrowing day both at my day-job and at school and found these incredibly kind words by Diane Lockward about Figured Dark. I am so grateful for this.

Read her review here.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Poet in New York, Take 2



Whenever I go to New York, at some point in the trip I ask myself whether I could live and work there. The energy of the city is undeniable and to me, addictive. It is endless fun to speculate about such a life.

It occurred to me to ask the question twice on this last trip--once on Thursday in the early evening, walking down Madison Avenue on my way back to the hotel, energized by our panel, the taillights, the rushing bodies. Then again on Sunday afternoon, walking in the sunlight on 5th Avenue along Central Park, dizzied by art, after spending four hours wandering through the Metropolitan Museum.

There would be many advantages to life in Manhattan--access to bookstores, readings and cultural institutions. Having friends nearby engaged in the the work of artists. Waking in a place where (theoretically, at least) not everyone laughs hysterically when you say you are a poet.

Setting aside the most obvious problem--I could not afford to live my dream-life as a poet in the City--the truth is that New York is too noisy, too important, too frantic a place for me. I was happy to come home last week to the cedars and white pines of Michigan; to the snow, my stars, our dogs.

There is a small life for me here and perhaps a few poems.

Hannah's New Blog


Check out Hannah Rappleye's new blog, "We, the Living"

here.

There is also a link at right.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Welcome to S@4AM



Please welcome poet Lynn Pattison from "Slips of Paper" to the blogroll at Sonnets at 4 A.M. Lynn is the author of two chapbooks and the full-length collection, Light that Sounds Like Breaking (2006) from Mayapple Press.

Welcome aboard, Lynn.

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Take 2

Last Sunday at the Met, I inadvertently found myself in the middle of my ongoing Martin Johnson Heade manuscript. On one wall, "The Heart of the Andes" (1859), by Heade's friend, Frederic Edwin Church. Across the gallery, "The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak" (1863) by Albert Bierstadt, who is something of a villain in my poems. On the side wall, Heade's "Approaching Thunderstorm" (1859) and "Newburyport Meadows" (ca. 1876-81?).

To walk into a room and find myself among all this was disorienting, humbling, thrilling. Were it the 19th Century, you might say I swooned.



The Heart of the Andes (1859)
Frederic Edwin Church (American, 1826–1900)
Oil on canvas; 66 1/8 x 119 1/4 in. (168 x 302.9 cm)

Bequest of Margaret E. Dows, 1909 (09.95)
This picture was inspired by Church's second trip to South America in the spring of 1857. Church sketched prolifically throughout his nine weeks of travel in Ecuador, and many extant drawings and oil sketches contain elements found in this work. The picture was publicly unveiled in New York at Lyrique Hall, Broadway, on April 27, 1859. Subsequently moved to the gallery of the Tenth Street Studio Building, it was presented in a dark, curtained frame designed to look like a window and illuminated by carefully orchestrated lighting in a darkened chamber. The exhibition caused a sensation, and twelve to thirteen thousand people paid twenty-five cents apiece to see it. The picture was later shown in London and eight other American cities, where it was greatly admired as well.

NOTE: It doesn't show in this print, but in the lower right hand corner are two hummingbirds, (male and female) posed as Heade posed so many pairs in the "Gems of Brazil" series.



Albert Bierstadt (1830–1902)
The Rocky Mountains, Lander's Peak, 1863
Oil on canvas; 73 1/2 x 120 3/4 in. (186.7 x 306.7 cm)

Rogers Fund, 1907 (07.123)
This painting is the major work that resulted from the artist's first trip to the West. His intention to create panoramic views of the American frontier was apparent by December 1858, just before he embarked on the trip. In early 1859 he accompanied a government survey expedition, headed by Frederick W. Lander, to the Nebraska Territory. By summer, the party had reached the Wind River Range of the Rocky Mountains in what is now Wyoming. Bierstadt dubbed the central mountain in the picture Lander's Peak following the colonel's death in the Civil War. This was one of a number of large works painted after Bierstadt's return from these travels. It was completed in 1863, exhibited to great acclaim, and purchased in 1865 for the then-astounding sum of $25,000 by James McHenry, an American living in London. Bierstadt later bought it back and gave or sold it to his brother Edward.



Approaching Thunder Storm (1859)
Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)
Oil on canvas; 28 x 44 in. (71.1 x 111.8 cm)

Gift of Erving Wolf Foundation and Mr. and Mrs. Erving Wolf, 1975 (1975.160)
Heade became a good friend of the acclaimed landscape painter Frederic Church (1826–1900), but he worked on the periphery of the Hudson River School. He specialized not in dramatic wilderness subjects, as many of the school did, but more prosaic marshlands and coastal settings. Even when he painted storms, as here, he portrayed not the actual tempest, but its tense preamble of blackening sky and eerily illumined terrain. This painting was based on a sketch of an approaching storm that Heade witnessed on Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay about 1858. The image became the basis for a more elaborate and synthetic version of the subject painted in 1868 (Amon Carter Museum of Western Art, Fort Worth, Texas).




Newburyport Meadows, (ca. 1876–81)
Martin Johnson Heade (American, 1819–1904)
Oil on canvas; 10 1/2 x 22 in. (26.7 x 55.9 cm)

Purchase, Mrs. Samuel P. Reed Gift, Morris K. Jesup Fund, Maria DeWitt Jesup Fund, John Osgood and Elizabeth Amis Cameron Blanchard Memorial Fund and Gifts of Robert E. Tod and William Gedney Bunce, by exchange, 1985 (1985.117)
An ideal example of Heade's signature marsh views, Newburyport Meadows was probably executed about 1872–78—the years during which its original owner, Senator Stephen Dorsey of Arkansas, resided in Washington, D.C. Dorsey took the painting with him to New Mexico, where it hung in the grand mansion that he built at Mountain Springs about 1880. Because it was long kept in a glass-covered shadow box, this painting survives in remarkably fresh condition and retains its original painted and gilded frame.

__________________________

NOTE: The descriptions are from the Met's on-line catalog.

New Poem



*poof!*

___________________________

NOTE: The painting is "Magnolias on Gold Velvet Cloth," by Martin Johnson Heade, circa 1890.

Current Conditions

2 degrees F, -15 wind chill.

Not that much new snow, however.

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Time to Update

At some point this weekend, I am going to update my blogroll. If you're reading Sonnets at 4 A.M., have a blog, and are not getting the love you deserve (blogroll-wise), let me know. I would be happy to add you to my list.

It is supposed to snow like a..., well, a LOT tonight and turn single-digit cold wth a -25 wind chill reading by Sunday morning.

Welcome back to Michigan.

Friday, February 08, 2008

This Just In



..SINATRA
...but Buddy, I'm a Kind of Poem


An anthology of Poems about Frank Sinatra,
edited by Gilbert L. Gigliotti

Published by Entasis Press of Washington, D.C.

$13.99

Publication date: January 26, 2008
ISBN 978-0-9800999-0-4

GIlbert L. Gigliotti's anthology of verse referencing Old Blue Eyes in
every possible way will delight both Sinatra fans and poetry fans
alike. The sixty poets Gigliotti has included offer a multiplicity of views
that are, as Gigliotti says in his introduction to the book, "as
contradictory as the man himself . . . at times harsh, satiric,
sentimental, erotic, comic, and tragic."

Poets include:

Gerald Early
David Lloyd
Landis Everson
Kathleen Norris
Maria Mazziotti Gillan
Diane Raptosh
Allen Ginsberg
Jack Ridl
Beckian Fritz Goldberg
Ravi Shankar
William Hartman
Ruth Stone
George Jessel
Virgil Suarez
David Lehman
Robert Wrigley

Gilbert L. Gigliotti is Professor and Chair in the Department of English at Central Connecticut State University.

I have two poems in this anthology: "Last Walk with Sinatra's Dog" and "From the Vegas Cantos," both of which appeared in A Path Between Houses (University of Wisconsin Press, 2000).

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Metropolitan Museum of Art, Take 1



Perhaps because I have been looking at so much representational painting lately (chiefly, religious icons and Heade's hummingbirds), I was knocked out by "Galisteo Creek" (1992) by Susan Rothenberg (1945- ) when I saw it in the Metropolitan Museum of Art last Sunday. I am not sure why I was so affected by this painting.

It makes me want to look more closely at Rothenberg's work.

Here's what Rothenberg has to say about the piece:

"I’m pretty interested in this idea of looking down at a scene, getting distance from it and looking down upon it I’m almost positive it’s from my walks and the geography here—the creek bed and the arroyos. Sometimes I’m above, and sometimes if I’m walking in the creek I can’t see the clouds because the cliffs cut them off. And I can’t wait sometimes to get up, especially in the monsoon season. Then I see these tower-of-power clouds. And other times I’m on the top walking along, looking down into these bays, these meadows that have happened through erosion in the creek bed."

— Susan Rothenberg

Rothenberg lives in New Mexico.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Good News from New York



The best, most exciting news I heard in New York is that Christine Rhein, a poet and friend from Brighton (near Detroit), has a collection of poems, Wild Flight, coming out from Texas Tech University Press in the Walt McDonald First-Book Series. Christine is a wonderful poet; her work has appeared in such journals as The Southern Review, Gettysburg Review, and Michigan Quarterly Review. Here's a picture of her book, which comes out early next month, a short description, and a sample of what other writers are saying about her work.

Congratulations, Christine!

Soaring across extensive terrain, from the working world of Detroit to American suburbia and pop culture; from the European landscape of World War II to the current war in Iraq, Christine Rhein opens her personal world to the world at large. In poems that explore the historical, social, and scientific, as well as the poignant and humorous, Rhein relishes life’s juxtapositions.

Wild Flight introduces us to an important new voice. . . . This is a poetry of the highest imagination, and the most energetic intelligence, written by a poet with a keen eye and a large spirit. Her hard look at this life is made beautiful by her art.”

-Laura Kasischke

“One of the mysteries of human life is that it is never an individual journey, a truth that Christine Rhein discovers over and over in this remarkable first book. In Wild Flight, she walks us artfully through the histories she comes from and those she is witness to in our time. . . .The personal is political in these large-minded poems, and the political personal.”

—Roger Mitchell

“Christine Rhein makes a stunning debut in Wild Flight, distinguishing herself immediately with poems of grace and intelligence. . . . Turning her eye toward science, technology, human relationships, love and war, she never merely describes a thing, but persuades us to a point of view that is subtle and sophisticated, sympathetic but challenging, funny and almost warm to the touch with each living moment.”

—Molly Peacock

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.
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*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.

The Return

Just got back from NYC. Have to run to class.

Sorry, students! No cancellation!

Much more later.