Out of blogtown
So much has taken my attention away from maintaining my rhythm of thinking in public, in these little essays, that I have fallen behind what I thought would be my regular schedule. Even if I limit myself to events and demands and interests that have to do with poetry, I am amazed at how much there is to distract one–happily at best–from self-imposed disciplines of writing. So I will cheat–what else is there for me to do?–and offer my happy excuses.
My colleague in the English Department at Northwestern, Ivy Wilson, and I have been forming a study group in Poetry and Poetics, which has immersed us and a number of colleagues–scholars (in several departments) and poets–in the exciting prospect of being able to spend time, every so often, talking together about so many interesting texts, problems of writing, problems of reading, enthusiasms for all of that. (See humanities.northwestern.edu/news/workshoppage3.html)
The poet and now novelist Angela Jackson gave a superb reading from her just-published Where I Must Go at Northwestern on Oct. 6, and on the following night gave another, with poet Carolyn Rodgers, at the South Side Community Arts Center. (See this New York Times feature on Jackson–nytimes.com/2009/10/13/books/13jackson.html. And for information about the novel, see nupress.northwestern.edu/Title/tabid/68/ISBN/0-8101-5185-5/Default.aspx
Three writers from Eastern Europe visited the Northwestern campus on Oct. 15–Petra Hulova (Czech Republic), Ferenc Barnas (Hungary), and Drago Jancar (Slovenia).
Janet Burroway gave a commanding reading for the MA/MFA in Creative Writing (see http://www.scs.northwestern.edu/grad/cw/), along with a student, Adin Bookbinder, on Oct. 16.
At lunch on Monday Oct. 19 I met with Steve Young, the program director of the Poetry Foundation, and Steve Burns, the artistic director of the Chicago new music group, Fulcrumpoint (see www.fulcrumpoint.org). The latter Steve is putting together the musicians (and rehearsals) for a performance of the telling of the story of Oedipus and my reading of my translations of the five odes from the play, on Dec. 3 at the National Hellenic Museum (see “events” at poetryfoundation.org).
And yesterday (October 26) Raza Ali Hasan, Ibtisam Barakat, Fady Joudah, Kazim Ali, and Khaled Mattawa were at Northwestern all day to give readings and to discuss, in a very animated panel together, aspects of being an English-language poet in America, identified with Arabic-speaking and Muslim cultures (the idea of cultural identity was of course at the center of much of the discussion, which was about both self-chosen identities and those that others impose on one); and…
and all of this was immensely rich in artistic accomplishment, in sometimes heroic dedication to the art of writing, and in a dazzling variety of the situation of writers and writing. So much to think about, to think with, to think.
And so many of us live at a pace that can bring us more experience in a day, and certainly in a week, than we could think through in a month or a year.
I can never catch up to all that, nor to what is coming in the next weeks and months. I will try to catch up with my half-drafted posts to this site of my thinking in public, especially about poetry.