New Year

Jan. 1st, 2005 11:06 am
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Ah, you know, black-eyed peas and turnip greens on the stove, my grandmother's cornbread in the oven, a walk in the cemetery, and, last night, reading things that scared me a little, made me feel like crying, having dancers tell me I'm a dancer, watching a little girl and young women and middle-aged women do martial arts to poetry, still as tough as they want to be, hearing a few good poems, then fireworks !!!! off the parking garage at six pm, since it's dark as all get out anyway, and Indian food and forty-two and champagne with my love and someone else very dear, and someone else less known but kind. Plans to make, facts to face today, but first I better tend to those black-eyed peas.

The most delicious and varied passions to you this year, the most deep and fertile rest, plenty of sky, plenty of effort, and some unexpected or profoundly familiar connections with people who honor you.

And if you happen to get a chance to hear "Goodbye little rock-n-roller," by Marshall Chapman, don't be too cool to cry!
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Here's a cool article about my friend, Northampton's Poet Laureate, Janet Aalfs. I'm quoted, basically saying that I think my friend is very happy about it all. Yayyy for making poetry more present in the community!
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I gave a reading this week with my old friend, Janet Aalfs, who combines poetry and martial arts in her work. She gave a very beautiful reading back in May, when she was first named poet laureate of our town.

Here's a description of that reading that I wrote at the time. )

The reading we did together just this week, in November, was much smaller, not such a big deal, but, oh, the audience listened with such rapt attention -- the quality of attention alone can go so far in keeping a writer going, despite decades of struggle with money and time. Some folks told me that they cried while I was reading, and there's nothing more important to me than to have my work move others -- doesn't need to be tears, just strong, deep response. I read a few poems, a couple of pieces from Venus of Chalk, and some new work about the Puritan minister Jonathan Edwards and his wild grandmother -- reading that felt like being out in the wind with my hair whipping in my face -- exciting. One of the Venus of Chalk pieces was a scene about a fat woman having to sit in a middle seat in an airplane, with grooves in her hips from the armrests and hostility from her neighbors. Afterwards, someone came up to tell me that once she had flown on Lufthansa airlines, and they had a section of seats that were adjustable, that could be moved to accommodate longer legs, bigger hips and all. It seems so simple, but the (uncomfirmed by me) fact that there is a commercial airlines somewhere in the world that actually does that blew my mind. And since the size of airplane seats have been adjusted (usually downwards, although there's a slightly different trend right now) with an eye to increasing corporate profits, and since the standardization of everything from transportation seats to clothing sizes to workplace design all came with the industrial revolution, this experience of literally of not fitting is part of a lingering mania for reducing human experience in general to our function in creating profits. That's because of specific ideas people have had, and we could try other ideas -- the seats could move!

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Oct. 29th, 2003 07:09 pm
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I am so tired that I can't see straight.

Ten hour work day. Not used to that.

This weekend, I'm going to see two writers whose work I love in the way you love books that make your chest start bloom with extravagant, dangerous day lilies where you didn't even know there was dirt. Or maybe like blood was dirt, and the books pump an earth through your whole body. I love these books. The Giant's House. Observatory Mansions. Alva & Irva. Niagara Falls All Over Again.

And, next week I'm reading on Wednesday at 7 at Pride & Joy with Janet Aalfs, my old friend who is now Northampton's Poet Laureate -- I love that so much. Then I'm reading again on Sunday at SisterSpit. I haven't given a reading since Jiggle-O back in May, and now I have two in the same week that my work hours are increasing. And all. Travelling -- by bus, which is what the new novel is about -- this weekend. Taking on other new responsibilities. I'm kind of overwhelmed. I'm reading from the novel (and a little from the novel after that!) on Wednesday, and poetry on Sunday, almost all new work that I've never read before.

I love to read -- it pumps so much life into me, to feel the response of people. And, I'm feeling it again, all of the strange, gorgeous edges of public/private, inside/outside, creation/presentation, word/world, mystery/clarity that come from writing so hard and long in relative solitude (always, always, with alert, tender, sharp-eyed help), and then coming (mm, sort of fighting tooth and nail to get back to) to a moment to be showing the work, speaking it, offering it, a lot, the surprising risks of that, when I thought most of the risks had already been taking in the writing. The way a new book being published opens me -- has to! -- to new kinds of courage.

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