The creative writing faculty at the Altoona campus of Penn State is magical, exceptional. What a gang of talents and intelligences–and they all woop for one another. I had such a great good time there. To be once again surrounded by my Pennsylvania mountains was rejuvenating. Todd Davis’s class was a joy to be with. Todd and Shelly and their boys, Noah and Nathan created a resort out of their home for me. Talk about good sleepin’ and good eatin and good talkin’! I repaid them by trouncing them at Rummy after the reading. Read in a chapel. I think I should set up the “Jack-in-the-Chapel Tour.” How many is that now?
So thanks to Todd and family, to Dinty Moore and Erin Murphy for being such great “instant friends.” Buy their books. They write the real stuff.
Random stuff from The Dodge Poetry Festival:
Standing in the rain with Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate of England.
Mark Hillringhouse, one of my very first students at Hope College, introduced me at my reading. That sure meant the world to me. Mark has done such important work. He received one of the New Jersey Governor’s Awards this past year. Check him out on the ole web. Remarkable man.
Jerry Stern to Taslima Nasreen who, if she returns to Bangladesh, will be killed for what she has written:
“Well, at least in your country they care about poetry.”
Linda Hogan saying, “Oh how I loved that room of your daughter’s, that magical bed, all the pictures.”
Linda Pastan to Jorie Graham after Ms. Graham had talked awhile about her theories of how to say the unsayable in poetry: “…Jorie, that’s all amazing, but I’m afraid if people think they have to remember all that, it will scare them away.”
Peter Murphy: “I need to say this: I really don’t like dogs. And I’d prefer to always stay indoors.”
Jerry Stern again: “I have seventeen pet peeves. One is when someone says, ‘Oh, I don’t read poetry.’ I want to yell, ‘You stupid _ _ _ _, are you an idiot! What is the matter with you! Are you proud of being such a schmuck?!’ “
It rained. I always seems to rain at The Dodge Festival. But that didn’t dampen (sorry) the spirits of the 20,000 or so who savored everything they could. And there were Julie ‘n me wandering about with Andrew Motion, Poet Laureate of England, and the nobel nominee from Korea, Ko Un and Lucille Clifton, Billy Collins, Kurtis Lamkin, Coleman Barks, Jerry Stern, Taha Muhammad Ali, Ekiwah Adler-Belendez, Robert Bly, Len Roberts, Anne Waldman, Mark Doty and on and on. And the joy of joys was that several Hope grads were there and we had such a great good time together. My reading went really well, didn’t pass out. Got to read with Tina Chang and Laure-Anne Bosselaar. And the food!!!!!!!!!! And the setting!!!! And the music and and and. If you like poetry and being with those who also do, where the feeling is welcoming and warm and generous, go sometime. Lucky me.
Well, we’re off to The Dodge Poetry Festival. I’m not sure yet that this is all true. I hope I don’t pass out on stage. I’ve had such wonderful messages from former students and other friends who live “out east” and who are planning to be there. That’ll help. And of course, Julie will assure me that all will be fine. Whew.
Thank you all for your well wishes. And I’d come read stuff for you. Just say the word!