people are asking me to post reviews of my readings, which I have been hard-pressed to do, having to prepare for the next reading
as many know, I have made a pledge to the DC poets (it started because some plan to see all four of my DC-area -- I'm calling baltimore DC area -- readings) to not read the same poem twice during these readings, an added consideration is not reading what I read here in NY last time
Ever since I read at DCAC, though, things have gotten a lot more emotional because my husband's grandmother, who had an active role in raising him, slipped unexpectedly into a coma that Sunday; Ron held her hand and we both spoke to her (I spoke to her over my cell); as he returned to LA, she started "letting go" as they say, and she died Sunday morning (I was staying with Toby and Miriam Olson, so that was good -- with relatives). Since his Mom had been basically at the hospital for two months at this time, she needed closure and quickly, and was able to schedule the wake and funeral Wednesday and Thursday. Kind of miraculous; my great aunt, who passed away after a similar, but shorter ordeal (both women had a major health incident -- a stroke and surgery -- the same day), will have a memorial service in April -- not only are there some problems with incorrectly - prescribed medications, but also her husband is in his final decline -- hospice is already caring for him.
this makes my reading tonight at the Poetry Project especially hard, since it was the reason I'm out here in the first place
he reading at DCAC was swell -- I rushed out of LA, having had friends over the night before, and should probably have allowed myself a day to pack DATA onto my laptop -- for shame -- I was playing Texas Hold 'em instead; this meant I read from da3 and locket, but also, wanting to read something newer, read from OOD from my laptop -- it was a very talky reading because Tom Orange's introduction was very talky
I was followed by Leslie Bumstead, launching her edge books book, and also reading from a collaboration she has been doing with Jean Donnelley -- the book -- I felt it was very dramatic in parts, in ways she could have emphasized in reading, and in ways that I am looking forward to revisiting when i have the opportunity to actually read it -- when she read her part of the collaboration, I felt she read better, because it was a looser text with a more dialogic (sp?) quality
afterwords, we went to some whale themed restaurant where I met Buck Downs, Mel, Rod Smith, Kaplan, and a host of other people -- but I was finding out about Ron's grandmother and spent about half the time outside on the cell phone
Then Mel, Rod, Tom, and I went for Thai food. I have my favorite Tom Ka Gai soup, it was a good version, and thankfully I CAN EAT IT -- so it looks like I'll be living on that for a while
I then went to stay at a childhood friend's house, Kelly Carey -- she just bought a row house in trendy NE. She had her book club on MLK day, and prepared a feast for us. We talked (a little bit) about Stephen Dubner's first book, and I had the scoop since we went to school and while Kelly's parents hadn't been, my parents were charismatic catholics, or at least hung around with charismatic catholics for a long time, and so Stephen and I have always had that in common -- i sent him an e-mail and da3, he replied, etc.
we all enjoyed my ice-breaking comparison of speaking in tongues to female ejaculation
in any case, Kelly's friends are fun, and smart, and we made perhaps a bit too much fun of the mothers, none of whom could make it, and I talked a long while to a friend of hers has Celiac disease -- I hope I don't, but don't think I have that -- but now I may go ahead and get the blood test, and I will also go ahead and get complete allergy testing, like Rob Roberge and Gayle Fornutaro, the card shark, are getting done
I did some laundry and went to a hotel, because I didn't want to bother kelly during the week -- I'm staying there this thursday and friday and didn't want to wear out my welcome
Tuesday night I read in Georgetown in Grace Church -- Rod called it a church instead of the church -- in any case, it was wonderful, and there was GOOD decaf coffee with NON DAIRY CREAMER!!!! and snacks including SNACKS I COULD EAT (strawberries, grapes). I read the "Oos" in their entirety and also (which I do a lot at more mainstream readings), the beginning of "In the beginning" and the end of "Last words" as a sort of alternative to Dylan Thomas' read a poem by another poet to start the reading -- something the new formalists have adopted with great piety (I think I've blogged about that before) -- since the words are first and last words in each poem in the Norton anthology -- I tell people to listen for Burns, Blake, and then Hughes. Anyhoo, it was an AMAZING place to read those poems, and I now know that I do have to record me reading them and put them online somewhere (I've made several attempts, including for a San Diego poetry radio show, but keep getting interrupted, etc. etc.)
Another reader had a chapbook blurbed by Natasha Saje, and I forgot to mention she was a fellow Tupelo author -- not TWO PELL O -- !!!
Then I went to Bridge Street with Mel and an older poet from the reading who was also a poet having a reading somewhere who needed to srop by Bridge Street and talk to Rod (who'd had to read early) and seemed determined that we not walk alone; that worked out well, and I spent about $100. buying books I've been looking for for a long time, and then we all went across the street to a bistro and had dinner.
Wednesday I went to a modernist silver Smithsonian thing at some museum on DC's La Fayette Square (we live in La Fayette Square in LA -- tho not so close to the Whiite House!), but I missed the timing on the Decatur House tour (I am from Decatur); they didn't have any postcards there to buy of Susan Wheeler Decatur (I wanted to buy one), and then I went to the Corcoran, which I hadn't made it to before. I saw Andy Warhol's portait films of John Ashbery, Allan Ginsburg, and Marcel Duchamp. I enjoyed the Sam Gilliam retrospective enormously. I talked To Ron's mom, and she said that she didn't know how long the coma would last or if it was worth it for Ron to come.
Then, I met Sarah DesPres, got a tour of her house, met her family (Jacob Heilbrunn and Oscar), she is as ever but her Mom works for a company in LA Ron worked for one afternoon (The Capitol Group); I knew her sister was in LA, and so I hope to be seeing much more of her. She works in the DC office of Henry Waxman, our congress person. maybe I should put up my comments about public transportation and methane...
Thursday I went up to Baltimore at five -- I have been getting up late -- Ron had decided, AND WISELY SO to go to Columbus to spent time with his grandmother -- he worked like a wildman to get some work finished, took two redeyes in one day on Friday -- Thursday night I took myself to a nice restaurant in Baltimore's little Italy, and my waiter -- ho was more a friend of the chef, an older guy -- actually had worked in the abruzzi, and said that is was great because it wasn't touristy (the opposite of what we'd heard) and you can drive through the beautiful rocky cliffs and hills and stop in little towns and the people are friendly
Friday before the reading in Baltimore I went to the visionary art museum which is excellent and more about that later! I have to write & prepare for my reading and go to MOMA.