Thanks to all who attended the reading last evening at the Grosse Pointe Public Library. For me, it was so great to see friends and family in the audience, to catch up, to breathe. It meant so much to share my newest work with Detroit friends at a reading sponsored by Marick Press. I described the feeling to a friend–of creating very different work and exploring entirely new creative territory–as that feeling that the Road Runner must have when he runs headlong off a bluff and stops in mid-air, looks at his feet, and realizes he has no solid ground beneath him. Meep Meep. Last night, however, a small receptive audience of friends provided a soft landing.
Chad Sweeney’s work is so enthralling to listen to, and meeting Bill Olsen was an honor; he is the word-parsing sage I’ve heard he is. You can hear him thinking. His wit leaps out between genius reflections, too. I particularly loved, between poems, when he looked at his bottled water and randomly said: Watch me turn this water into water. See, it’s a miracle.
Both of these poets are brave foragers of language and ideas; hearing their work and wrapping one’s brain around their metaphorical leaps creates new neural networks. In the panel discussion afterward, the questions were fascinating and terrific–inquiring of us about our relationship to language, our creative processes, the trajectories of our work. Bill made a fascinating distinction between language that is linguistic and animistic; and discussed the alternative idea to our notion that language originated from our labeling of the animals, of the world around us–that instead it arose from listening to, and mimicking the animals, the natural world. Chad spoke of the relation between the creative mind–wherein the poet must reside at the origin of work and work quickly–and the editing mind, which sometimes likes to “cut the tail off the animal,” and which a poet must guard against.
A great poetry weekend continues. Tonight, I will stand at Roethke’s grave reading his work, followed by walking up Hamilton Street in Saginaw, reading his poems in the very places this great bard liked to haunt when he walked these same Saginaw streets. Sunday, I’ll return to Saginaw to read some poems with a group of local poets. You come, too.