Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Poet Galway Kinnell Comes to My Little Town!

Tomorrow night I'm going to hear a reading by Pulitzer-prize winning American poet, Galway Kinnell. Sue Ellen Thompson will also read. I haven't been this excited since last year when Robert Pinsky spoke at a church in Wellfleet (Cape Cod, MA), or, when, two years ago (University of Rochester, NY), I got to personally thank former Poet Laureate Rita Dove for teaching me a great writing/teaching exercise. That exercise was called "Ten Minute Spill." Check it out. It's in a great book called The Practice of Poetry, by Behn and Twichell. Ms. Dove was so awesome I nearly fainted on the spot at her book signing.
If you have time, go to this page (link below), look at the right-most column, listen to the interview AND the reading of Galway Kinnell's "Shelley" poem. I started crying halfway through the reading of this poem. He makes the years of this situation visceral. Those of you who listen to the interview will understand that I think it might be a memory-challenged reading; that and the content, closely related or separate, will determine how much my eyes will well up.

After you hear the poem "Shelley," you will realize why, deep down, none of us ever could stand reading Shelley. I sort of could, sometimes. But mostly not. And I am a great fan of the English Romantics. I had been forewarned: my great high school English teacher, Marlys Nelson, broke into hysterics telling us about his death in a rowboat when he didn't know how to swim. He was a total idiot.

Any of you who care: The Kinnell interview might be important to hear because it was done two years ago and at that point Kinnell (who was then 78) was already speaking slowly and admitted some "memory problems." So the upcoming reading might not be as stellar as I anticipated. I'll give him the benefit of the doubt and see how it goes.

This is even sadder--I called the library more than a week ahead to ask them whether we needed reservations or tickets (last year in Cape Cod I needed expensive tickets for Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, and the competition was cutthroat, and nothing was left a week ahead). Our W.H. librarian actually didn't know whom I was referring to until I repeated the poet's name several times. Then she stifled a laugh and said, "Oh, oh, you mean the
reading? No, no, you'll be in the Town Hall. It seats more than 200 people. So there's no need for reservations. (Titter.)"

Hello? Librarian? Read much?

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