Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Reading at UCI

In the midst of so much uncertainty, poetry has a role to play. I decided to go to a reading that I learned about in Reb's blog, The Mark on the Wall. It was by two poets, Victoria Chang and Ted Genoways. Genoways, who read second, was a very kind person who brought his 7 year old son and wife to the reading. He is the editor of Virginia Quarterly Review, and writes interesting sequences of formed poems. His voice was quiet, so much so that I had trouble hearing him. But of course, with my hearing, I have trouble hearing lots of things, and I sat on the other side of the room, unfortunately, hanging with the old folks, while the undergraduates taking notes congregated closest to the reader. From what I heard, I was impressed by how he introduced the rhymes so naturally into his lines and intrigued by his narratives about his grandmother's life in long ago Nebraska of the early 20th century and late 19th.
Chang is one of those poets who isn't an exhibitionist, as I am. She is very introverted and strange. I get the impression she does not read often or willingly. Though she lives in Irvine, she has never been on the UCI campus before, and attended Warren Wilson College's MFA program, where she would not have been required to subsist in the hothouse milieu of a program like UCI's, where the writers quite often engage in long-term partner-swapping and power struggles. She kept making very self-conscious and odd comments about colleges and college students, and said several times that UCI was "very clean." However, her poetry was striking and revealed an acute eye and penetrating sensibility.
I didn't stay around after the reading, somehow feeling very old. It suddenly struck me for the first time how much younger even the grad students are than I am right now. It was a long time ago when I was a student there. However, I am glad to have heard two new voices.

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