Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Good Old Now

The Arlo Guthrie concert was really fun. I ran into half a dozen people from the synagogue and old friends by the handful. Many people of my generation and political stripe were there, revisiting the sixties.
I was quite far away from the stage because the "organizers" didn't have signs specifying where the stage was. The day before we had watched a much smaller concert in a different location with a dance floor. This was not a dancing concert, and the audience was many times the size of the first one, so it was in a completely different place, near the balloon.
For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Great Park of Irvine is a pie in the sky project in development. It is supposed to rival Central Park, Fairmount Park, and all other urban green areas in its scope. The planners have told us they plan several museums, including an aeronautical museum to honor the former purpose of the area as a marine base and landing strip, a college campus, a library, a botanical garden, housing, and miles and miles of beautifully landscaped trails for walking and biking.
The Great Park was an alternative to an international airport. Now an international airport half a mile from where I live would have been a disaster, in my mind. The traffic is already almost impossible to handle sometimes, and naturally, such an airport, while it might be useful to others who do not live nearby, would lower property values still further than the real estate crash has done, cause more traffic and pollution, and generally be a pain. If people moved away and the neighborhood went down precipitously, many millions in taxes and revenue from the prosperous area would be lost or would go elsewhere, perhaps to other states. So I was against the airport and all for the Great Park, but at the same time, I had my doubts that such a grand plan would ever be realized.
It is several years since all of this finally was decided, and none of the things we have been promised has been built. All we have is a small restaurant inside an old airplane hangar, a stage, and a big orange balloon that goes up several hundred feet in the air and comes back down again, tethered as it is to a line attached to the ground. Millions have been spent, and there's not much chance of major sources of funding emerging when the legislature can't even get it together to pass a minimum budget. They are too busy squabbling about party politics and abstract policies, and this may mean that schools close down and people like me and my husband don't get paid.
But all of this doesn't stop me from going to events like the one I went to last night and enjoying them. Irvine is the kind of place where nothing ever happens, and that is exactly the way people have always wanted it. It was planned very carefully to be the ultimate in high-priced status suburbs, full of highly educated people of various ethnicities, various conveniences, fine schools, etc. A very good place to bring up children, in short, but purged of every urban danger, edginess, etc. So it felt odd to be going to such a concert here, particularly since Arlo Guthrie represents, via his father and his own past anti-war music, the old protest culture of the left. But it was a crowd definitely skewed in that direction. Everyone knew the words of the old songs and sang along. I guess we have finally become the system we scorned.
Guthrie performed with his son and grandson, playing not only his old hits but those of people like Leadbelly and other classic musicians he had come to know personally and musically growing up with his dad. It became obvious that he was a fine musician, if not the genius his father was.
All the while, I watched the giant orange balloon rise gently a few feet away, then sink slowly to the ground again in the darkening sky like a new planet. Lovely. A lovely way to end the summer.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Just a Note

This seems to be a musical weekend. Last night, R and I went over to the Great Park (ha) to see a band. We thought it was going to be Arlo Guthrie and his family band, but it turned out to be a rockabilly dance band. I don't dance. My body just flails and people stare in ridiculing ways. Nothing I have ever done has been able to make it cooperate. I am not the kind not to care about that, so I don't dance. I can't seem to follow either, so R has given up trying to dance with me.
Tonight is Guthrie's concert. All of this is free, so we will be going. It's only a few blocks from my house.
There is supposed to be a huge development with museums, walking and biking trails (beautifully landscaped), a college campus, housing, etc., but so far, many millions into the project, there's just a big empty field with trailers on it, trees in containers, and a huge orange balloon people ride up and down on for a short distance. Oh, and a hanger with a restaurant, a dance floor, and a stage. That's where the concerts are.
Irvine is a place where nothing much seems to happen, so it was interesting to see the variety of different people, kids, adult, elderly, who came out for this event, and seemed to have a wonderful time. The band also was from the area and had family here. The bandleader got his twelve year old niece to come up and sing. She was terrific! So it was fun.
That sort of helps make up for the rest of the day. After yoga class yesterday, I met with a student who is leaving for the whole week on a trip (long planned) to Costa Rica. I taught a whole week's work to him. When you have 8 students in a class, you can't afford to lose any.
Then I went to Steinmart for their 80% off sale! Unfortunately, in the midst of trying on pants, I stepped on a security sensor, a black stud with a spike about 1" long, which was hanging out of my foot!
The women at the counter were suspicious of me. How did that get there? It is only supposed to be removed at the counter, after one pays for a garment. So they thought Iwas trying to steal something, but how dumb could I be, trying to steal something and then bringing the thing up to show them? Stupid. They realized this, and then said they'd get me the person in charge of filling out insurance forms. But I waited an hour without that person showing up. Given that it's a holiday weekend, I went straight out to my doctor to get a tetanus shot, but there weren't enough docs to cover, so they sent me up to Orange to the Urgent Care for my HMO. When I got there, I realized I hadn't had anything to eat all day and was too hungry to sit there for 2 hours, which I would have needed to do, so I decided to come back home and go to a Walk in and bill the store. I ended up a block from the store, got the shot, and delivered the bill to the manager.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Home Stretch

It's the end of summer, the end of the campaign, and this last weekend will be a time to relax and celebrate what has gone before and what is coming down the pike. But not everyone feels so positive.
I went to take my dad for a blood test, and my mom came to the door full of doom and gloom. She was hallucinating up a storm, and told me that "the bad ones" were visiting her about now, warning of disaster to come. She followed us out to the car, and grabbed hold of my shirt, warning me, like Coleridge's ancient mariner, and refused to go back into the house, although she wasn't coming with us to the lab. So I took her hand and led her back inside, telling her to tell the "bad ones" to go back where they came from.
It doesn't matter what activities I dream up for her. That spectral world she lives in is always more real than the one we live in, apparently. She doesn't complain much anymore because of that probably. She is more there now than here. One day she will cease to return to the surface, and just stay there.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Convention-al Musings

It may be corny, but I really am loving the Democratic convention this year. It's the whole deal, the terribly earnest conventioneers, with their wild eyes and funny hats and the summer camp feeling of grown adults acting silly. I can't help but feel that something in the air has changed, and we DO have a chance to get rid of the Bushes and their ilk.
It has been wonderful to hear speeches that say in so many words what we all know already: that the administration of the past 8 years has given our country and its economy over to the oil industry and the rich and powerful of the world. It has cynically thrown the rest of us to the dogs, and literally watched as the poor and powerless drowned, in the aftermath of Katrina and in the ongoing economic crisis.
It still makes me angry that our country carried out an impeachment process against Bill Clinton, a man who was weak and somewhat sleazy, but who after all held things together on a national level and presided over a period of peace and security, but now refuses to do so against an administration that has ignored and abused every principle of the Constitution, Bill of Rights, and every other value we pretend to stand for as Americans.
But at least in making a concerted effort to throw out the bastards and to speak the truth about what has happened, a truth that has remained unspoken for the most part until now in the major press, we can do something meaningful. That is more important than any one candidate or party. That, indeed, is what we have fought for and called freedom.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Semester

The new semester started today. I am back to teaching composition, rhetoric and argumentation this time, as I have said before. The classes are miniscule, but they are a go, apparently! I'm happy about this! The students will benefit by getting more personal attention from me, I guess.
It is good to be back to work. It is still hot and summery outside, but inside, fall has distinctly arrived, overly cold air-conditioning at all. Of course, in the room where I have my early morning class, I have at least once had air conditioning in the winter and heat in the summer, so I am not surprised.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Out on a limb

A few years back, I had given up on sending stuff out to magazines. I had so many rejection slips, some of them merely frustrating, some actually cruel. Once, for example, I sent a journal a dozen poems--quite a lot for someone who doesn't write all that many--and they wanted MORE! Naturally, they didn't take even one of what I sent them. I think I sent them more, and they did the same again. That was frustrating but sort of flattering at the same time. Another time a little podunk rag told me my "sensibility sucked." Succinct, eh? Actually, I laughed at that one. Yet another time at a local journal, I sent in neatly folded, crisp poems and got back bad Xeroxes with holes punched in them. So I stopped trying.
After some success at an online publication, Qarrtsiluni, where my friend Marly was a guest editor, I began sending out tentatively again. Now I have a few things in the pipeline, including a short short story I wrote this summer in my workshop, which I sent out on a tip from Reb to an NPR radio show.
Now I'm thinking of going back to the mother lode, those magazines I always admired, like Poetry or Ploughshares or The New Yorker, on the off-chance something will work for them.
I won't be daunted by rejections. After all, I've seen it all before. But I just somehow think there won't be an unbroken series of them as there was before, especially if I intersperse these off-chance submissions with less ambitious ones.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Falling into the year

The new semester starts tomorrow. When one teaches all year long, as I have this year, it shouldn't seem like such a big deal, but it still does. It's a reflex I guess from all those years I had a full summer of whatever I wanted to do and then BOOM! Back to school. All those long halcyon days and nights of playing outside till 9 PM (a big deal for a kid), of catching jarsful of lightning bugs, of eating sticky popsicles and watermelons, of reading stacks of books from the library... I wanted it to go on forever, but at the same time, I was a little bit bored.The mixed feelings of dismay and thrill, the smell of new pencils, the suspense, wondering what teacher(s) I would have... who forgets those things?
I still have a yearly adjustment when I switch from sandals to shoes and capris to long pants. My feel especially protest this change, cramping and hurting for a month or so until I get used to it.
Probably there's something also about being Jewish and celebrating the new year in the fall. It just always feels like a clean slate. And that's ultimately a good thing, an opportunity to begin again.

Friday, August 22, 2008

the end of summer, setting sun

Every year at this time, our synagogue has a service at Laguna Beach, on a bluff overlooking the ocean and wild rocks full of sea lions. It is always fun because you see people wearing their beach clothes who are usually wearing three piece suits and ties, like the rabbi, who inevitably wears a baseball cap and has a sweater tied around his shoulder.
This year, it was really really crowded. Word got out how much fun it was to sit around watching the sun go down and to sing together overlooking the ocean and to eat sloppy vegetarian sandwiches on a blanket with people you know for years but not usually outside the synagogue.
There wasn't enough room for everyone to sit, especially since the little stone benches there were full of people's picnic food, all collectively laid out in super duper all you can eat buffet of watermelon, Chinese vegetables, cherry tomatoes, honey cake, lavash, borsch, egg salad, and items from every cuisine one could imagine.
I brought a friend with me who is not Jewish, and she had fun observing everyone, noshing, and singing along to songs she didn't know. She came along last year too, and I think she had fun. It is always interesting to see people you know relating to others they know but you do not. You see new sides of them.
One moment I especially liked was when the sun was finally slipping away, and someone said, "Come back tomorrow, bubbie." And I hope, I always hope, that it does.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Another day, another emergency

Today I had just returned from yoga class and was pondering what to do with a few rare uncommitted hours ,when the phone rang. It was my dad, and he was telling me, or trying not to tell me because he was afraid it would be too much for me to handle, that he had some very bad pain in his left hand and needed to go to the emergency room.
The last time we went for my mom, it took 9 1/2 hours to get out of there, for them to discover what it might have taken only an hour or so to find out, if they had tended to her earlier, that she had a bladder infection and needed antibiotics. Today, my dad was lucky. We had been there less than an hour maybe even less than half an hour when we were called inside for triage and sent straight back into the bowels of the emergency room, where we were seen by a doctor, someone I knew from synagogue, in less than an hour again. Neither the doctors nor the nurses disappeared for long periods of time. It was busy, but not as a frantically so as last time we were there. We got to park right in front of the hospital, and things moved along. However, no one really could say why my dad had pain, except to rule out the thing we feared most: another stroke.
Despite my dad's very high blood pressure, it didn't seem to have anything to do with his heart. He hadn't broken his hand or even sprained something. So the doctor's best guess is that it might be something neurological. Good guess for someone as neurologically complicated as my dad, with a history of neuropathy in his legs and back. So we have to go back to the doctor tomorrow and she will probably refer us to the neurological guys. Something for another day.
On the way home, we stopped at Sassoon Chicken, and delighted with the prospect of not having to stay at the hospital anymore today, consumed a big plate of shish kabob, hummous, and an Armenian potato salad with green onions and lemon juice, topped off by fluffy basmati rice and hot pita bread. I had chicken shwarma with the same sides. Yummy.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

New Course

I'm still playing with the syllabus for my new rhetoric course. I had a few assignments I liked, but I realized that I don't have time to do them all, so I changed the most time-consuming one, a rhetorical analysis of Douglass' slave narrative that required students to compare this very positive and optimistic version of his past with a speech that he gave at a 4th of July picnic. Needless to say, he did not speak all that positively about the freedoms that our country guarantees all citizens in this context! In fact, he would have scorched the eyebrows off of any white person who came too close. In fact, when that whole thing with Obama's former preacher broke, I thought about this very old tradition in African American rhetoric. Anyone who was familiar with it would not have been so shocked by Wright's words. And if one would only think about it, there are plenty of reasons he would speak that way. In some places, people of color are still persecuted, plenty of places. I'll still probably show them that speech and discuss this issue, but it would have been much more directly related to the assignment. Oh well! Can't do everything, right?

Saturday, August 16, 2008

New start, at least theoretically

It's the beginning of a new semester in two weeks (the 25th), and I wanted to clean up at least on the surface in this mess of a room. It's so chaotic on the dining room table, what with mail, referral forms from doctors for my parents, magazines I haven't gotten around to reading, that I can barely clear a place to eat. And only one person can eat at a time, for sure. It never used to be this way. It seems as my mind has gotten more and more cluttered with to-do lists, it manifests itself in the room as well.
What began as a small pile of books (mostly textbooks and materials for whatever current class I was teaching at the time) has grown to an avalanche of crap I can't seem to shovel fast enough to keep up with. Ironically, some of those pile is composed of books about how to organize and clean the house. Needless to say, it ain't happening. It doesn't help my state of mind any, let's just say that.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Jeremy's birthday party

After reading a couple of months ago about an excellent sushi restaurant right near the college where I teach, I decided to go there, the next special dinner we had planned. Tonight we finally met there with a party of 9 to celebrate my son's 18th birthday and my friend's 65th birthday. We have been making a kind of tradition out of celebrating their birthdays jointly the past few years, so this was a reunion of sorts, though it was a smaller party than usual since my son was not able to make it on a weekend, since he works on weekend nights, and almost no one else could get away tonight.
It was a lot of fun, though it is always kind of difficult being out in public with my mom, who can barely hear and has relatively advanced dementia. If I want to communicate anything to her, I have to yell, which mortifies my son, and he tells me to be quiet. Then she almost always mis-hears me anyway. And she didn't know what anything on the menu was since she had eaten very little Japanese food before. She was ready to drink the dipping sauces and dip food into the miso soup. But she tried everything and didn't complain, once I got her a spoon and a fork. She tried a little of everyone's food and seemed to enjoy herself. My dad always enjoys himself if he likes what he is eating. He gets that single-minded expression of a gourmand, engrossed in tasting every bit of what he is eating to its full potential. He liked his salmon teriyaki, miso soup, and salad, and of course the piece of chocolate mint ice cream cake he got (despite his diabetes--just this once!). I meant to take a picture of the cake, but I forgot to, partly because Jeremy really hated me rushing around taking pictures and asked that I put the camera away, so I did.
Tomorrow I'll take the camera out of the car and see if I can find some kind of picture to put up here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ancient music

Today I heard an intriguing story on the radio about the many prehistoric cave paintings that have been found in regions throughout the world. People have often speculated that these paintings may have had some ritual or religious function. But today, I heard of a French professor specializing in ancient art and music who found that these paintings, at least those in the European caves he was exploring, were placed in the most resonant parts of the caverns, where even a slight sound was magnified many times over by the acoustically sensitive walls. For this reason, he decided that the paintings must have been decorations in ancient cathedrals, where the people would gather and chant or sing their praise to the spirits of the animals they hunted or the deities that might make this hunting more successful.
Though we have no real way to prove this theory (no long-lost midi files or even sheet music will be found, for example, to turn hypothesis into certainty), it is a lovely idea, and it rings true for me, at least. For as long as there have been human beings, they have apparently turned their eyes to the spirit world, wanting to praise, appease, appeal, or merely wondering about where it all comes from.

Monday, August 11, 2008

End of summer, redux

Lou has remarked that I am probably feeling down owing not only to the inevitable ending of summer, but also, and more pointedly, because of the endless demands of caring for my parents, whose extreme age has caused them much humiliation and pain, despite my efforts to make their lives more pleasant. This is true, but adding to their (and by extension, my) slippery slide down into old age, there is also my son's 18th birthday, this Thursday.
I have not been able to motivate myself to plan a celebration for this momentous event. For one thing, he doesn't have much interest in spending a lot of time with us, at this point. He sees himself as the new model, while we are definitively outmoded, yesterday's news. Though he has affection for us, clearly, he regards us with a sort of condescension, I think, as most people of that age see their parents. Suddenly we are so much less than savvy than he thought. We have diminished in power, in knowledge, in effectiveness. It will take some years for some of that to return, I think, when he is dealing with his own children.
Most people's kids begin behaving in this way when they hit puberty, but my kid stayed a kid until very very recently. The transition happened very abruptly, and it shocked the hell out of me, though I should have expected and even welcomed it as a sign we have done our job and allowed him to separate from us naturally.
I think I've taken it hard, and have been unable to find purchase on the slippery rock of his indifference. It's difficult to craft a new role for myself in his life.
I'll live.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

End of Summer Blues

Despite the recent good news about the workshop, I am not immune to the melancholia of the season. In the east, where I grew up, the metaphor of life's cycle and the coming end of life was plain for anyone to see, looking out the window at the dead leaves, the grey skies, the lowering clouds, but even here, where the sun is still shining and in fact, August marks the hottest of weather, the subtle signs of that cycle are still present. The grass that was fat and green is burned and sere; the flowers have transformed to rattling seedpods; some of the trees, like the ones in the east, are beginning to turn, though they generally do a pale imitation of fall in comparison to the amazing technicolor show I witnessed in Western Massachusetts, where I spent a number of years. How can we resist the thought that we are tending in the same unreversable direction in our individual lives?

Saturday, August 9, 2008

good news

I just heard that in the spring, I will be teaching the poetry workshop at the college! I am so pleased that I will be continuing with a workshop and that my 5 stalwart students and others of course as well can continue with me then. I will have to begin thinking about how I can develop a class that continues with the study of poetry, deciding which books I'll use, etc. Maybe, in the meantime, I can look into taking a fiction workshop somewhere myself. This is what I keep on moving along the road of working on my writing, and possibly getting out some kind of collection of poetry in the foreseeable future. I didn't want this to be like the other things I started and didn't finish in my life.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

last assignment

The last in class assignment I gave my class was to write a dramatic monologue, possibly from the pov of a person in a famous or classic photograph. I offered up several, including a portrait by Annie Leibowitz, one of Sally Mann's children (a girl of maybe 8 smoking a cigarette), one of Arbus' characters, such as the twins or the child with the hand grenade, or a person from one of Winograd's 60s portraits, such as the woman with 2 rhinos, the inter-racial couple with chimps, etc. I put them up on the overhead and also on Blackboard. Most of the students have their own laptops, so they could look at each a while.
I wrote one too. Here it is:
Child with a Hand grenade, After A Photograph by Diane Arbus

Everyone was thinking of the bomb.
In Central Park, beneath a half dead tree,
I played at soldier with my hand grenade,
a tiny plastic pineapple, about to blow.
At school, they taught us all to duck and cover.
We’d hunker under desks like toads, our skinny
thighs around our ears, waiting for the world
to end. And then what? No one ever said.
Would we emerge like locusts, blinded by the glare
of bursting suns, to be the only things alive?
Some game. No wonder in the picture
I grimace and stare off into the distance,
where vague and faceless strangers stalk the path.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

End of summer blues

It is almost the end of summer, almost the end of my workshop too. I am going to miss it so much, and the 5 students who are still attending class. I hope they keep in touch. Maybe some of my loosening up will continue into the regular year, though teaching rhetoric is definitely a different sort of activity from teaching a creative writing workshop and calls for a different attitude. I do intend to keep on writing and thinking about writing and not let anything get in the way, but intentions don't always pan out, as I know. (Just remember my intentions to read all those short story collections and to clean up my house!) I just need to remember how good it felt to write again and think of myself as a writer. I won't forget that.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Pearl's Wisdom

I just took my parents to see the documentary, A Man Named Pearl because my dad has taken up gardening in his old age. In fact, he is obsessive about it, spending hours making compost and spreading it on the plants in the yard outside. For a birthday gift, I got him a grapevine, with growing grapes, turning purple as we speak. Last year I bought him two dwarf banana trees, and the year before a Meyer lemon tree. He also has a pomegranite bush, blueberries, and all the other usual garden plants, like tomatoes, peppers, parsley, mint, rosemary, etc.
The film is about a self-taught topiary artist who, at the age of over 70, I would estimate, scrambles up trees and formidable bushes of 9 feet in height as if they were the garden fence. He is a black man living in a tiny, racist South Carolina town, the child of a share-cropping family whose father went only to the third grade. Yet people come from all over the world to see his garden. I will put a photo of my favorite of his creations. It is worth going to see the film and learning more about him because his story illustrates what all of us could do if we could ignore the voices of doubters inside and outside of our own heads and do what we love.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

to workshop or not to workshop, a reply to Kay Ryan

I just finished reading Kay Ryan's article about unwillingly attending the AWP (Associated Writing Program) convention. She was doing it for an article she was writing, although she had spent an entire life avoiding it. I personally am a product of the very system she is so uncomfortable with, but of course, I see the contradiction in terms that it is... like an anarchist's convention. Writing is supposed to be something you do alone. It is the thing on the page, not the human beings that produced those things. It is harder, after all, to be cold and ruthless about not liking someone's work when you have met that person and liked him. I have been in this position, as has every other person in this game.
The workshop was a good thing for me, especially when I was very young, and had yet to develop that voice in my head that came only later about what was the right thing to say, the word to excise and the ones to replace it with. And then I was so lucky to have fallen into the workshop of an eminently generous writer, Richard Dillard, who was so full of the joy of writing that it was contageous. But I too have experienced the kinds of workshops that would put one off, and indeed for years did put me off writing poetry altogether, where one spent an hour discussing a comma and hours of tedious wrangling over grammar or subject matter. Many of these were joyless hours, far from the hours I had spent as an undergraduate, loving every minute.
And I am obviously a different sort of person from, let's say, my husband, who is also a poet, but who loves nothing better than sitting silently in a room listening to music or doing chess problems or playing the harmonica, while I love to jabber online to invisible friends, to shop, to go to yoga classes, to chat with my cats. I am sure that even when I am sleeping, my mouth is going. So workshops and trading emails with writing friends are natural to my personality, to my way of being.
There's more than one way to do everything, and I say there is room for it all, for Emily Dickenson, sewing poems carefully into pillows, and for jabbering workshoppers, talking the talk.

Friday, August 1, 2008

poetry readings

This week I attended two poetry readings, after not attending any for a very long time. And it was like water after a long drought. At Tebot Bach, as I've said, I read some of my own work at the open mic, but it was a pleasure just to hear a whole range of work from people I didn't know, including two featured poets, and to feel the presence of others who read and write poetry.
At Casa Romantica, where I went with three of my students, young women whose interest in poetry has been sparked by the class, I experienced a whole other order of pleasure. First of all, it is wonderful to know that I introduced these students to writing poetry, something they seem to find fun and intriguing. They have already had some success in doing it as well. Then the place itself is sublime, complete with the requisite sound of the train whistle and the roaring surf. Every wonderful reading place, in my experience, has some endearing endemic sounds. At Hollins College, where I was an undergraduate, it was the Green Drawing room, a period room on the register of historic places, with its rattling radiators in the winter, sounding like a passel of poltergeists. The sounds and feel of this room at Casa Romantica more than met the standards set by that earlier room.
And the work I experienced there was an even greater surprise and pleasure. At this reading, I was introduced to the work of Elisa Pulido and Sholeh Wolpe. They were as different as could be, but both wonderful. Pulido reminded me of Flannery O'Connor, only in poetry. It wasn't the style of the work, but the ironic voice and the eye behind it. Her work was intensely American and grounded in place. This set off Wolpe's work. This writer stresses that she is from everywhere and nowhere. With her dramatic tallness and face with features both Iranian and reminiscent of the Russian steppes, she drew the audience to her. And her voice was hypnotizing. Her presence was so strong that, as my student remarked after the reading, the whole audience was leaning forward toward her as she read her work, like plants reaching toward the sun.
I could hear traces of both traditions in her work and her style of recitation. I plan to read more of both poets and to find a way to attend more readings at Casa Romantica.
I now have even more respect for my former colleague, Michelle Mitchell-Foust, who is on the board responsible for setting up this reading series. It is even more impressive to think that this was a last minute line-up of readers, after the scheduled readers became unavailable.