Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Dodge Poetry Festival



  1. Anyone who can make it here, please come. I just sent an e-mail out to some friends, and said this:

    Here I am at the Courtyard in Parsippany NJ, about 20 miles from Stanhope where the Dodge Poetry Festival is happening. I got to see C.D. Wright, Martin Espada, Jane Hirshfield, Mark Doty and then Joy Harjo on the main stage tonight. But first, Ted Kooser walked by. I didn't stop him. But I went and gabbed with Mark Doty before he went on, congratulated him and Paul on their marriage last month, thanked him for judging IBPC and such.

    Joy Harjo is a-ma-zingly good. I bought two of her books and stood in line at the book signing. Very nice to gab a bit with her too.

    This is just first night. I cannot tell you how Doty and Harjo are able to transport the audience into poetry, not that the other three are slouches. Oh, my. Espada slays the audience. This is not something to miss in your lifetime if you can help it.

  2. Rus, this sounds, so far, magnificent and makes you know who jellis and thrillicus at the same time; now, I can see why you'd not miss this. Your restraint when it came to TK's admirable, all things considered; but, I bet you may feel a twinge of regret, now?

    (And, I apologise for not attending to your attendance earlier at what looks to be the event of the decade to me. Experienced one of those dark nights and daze and knights of the soulfully woefully angstified, if you wanna know.)

    Although we're prolly all sorry we missed it (who did miss it), in a way, every silver lining has a zipper (or, in this case, a zinger). So? What came to pass for the rest of the show? Yeah, Books, Inq/uiring Nosey-bodies wanna gotta need ta know :).

    But, what a feast, the toast of the east (let alone the blessed of the west). Drool . . .

  3. Hi Judith,

    As the week went on, there were many more poetry names to drop, those who walked by, and I thought maybe I should have shook some hands, Robert Hass, Kevin Young Joe Weil, Lucille Clifton, Robin Robertson, Jan Beatty, Chris Abani, Martin Espada, and more. I stood and gabbed with Simon Armitage for a while, a pleasure to meet, a wonderful guy as well as a stirring poet. His name had come up when I met Bryan Appleyard a few months ago. So we chatted for about 10 minutes.

    Patricia Smith and I chatted some too. She had judged IBPC and I thanked her personally after a reading she did, just briefly. She was so, soooo good. Next day, I went to buy a book of hers because her book signing was coming up within minutes. She came by there at the same time. Her books were sold out.

    As this thread drifts into history, here's a poem I wrote Monday night and sent to the poets I mention in it, plus the Dodge staff:

    White Goose at Waterloo Village


  4. The poem's gorgeous, Rus, clearly of a quality I rarely see; and, so controlled. Surely, you worked on it diligently for many hours to achieve the cadence and seamless flow from stanza to stanza so that, despite the breaks, it's of a piece and I can't see moving anything anywhere else; so, this must be it which is good because it is IT, quiet, eloquent, and filled with a kind of wonder such creatures exist. Oh, did I mention I like it very much, then?

    And, of all the names I see at the Dodge Festival, the one that jumps off the page and hits me between the ayes, the one I wish you'd had the op to meet and shoot the breeze so you could return and say what was said?

    Robin Robertson (whom I didn't know was even going to be there; I knew he was reading in Chicago a week ago yesterday; but, this is a surprise, indeed). Did he read from Swithering, A Painted Field, or new work? Funny, innit? Yesterday, I was gabbing with a mutual friend about RR (as we call him); then, to hear from you he was *there* and I know there is a gawd of poetry :).

    Simon's fine, very fine, and he has a unique way with words in an unbroken line. Glad he was open and forthcoming. I've heard he's very approachable and actually interested in everything interesting; so, you obviously charmed the guy. (I can see and hear why.)

    The whole event sounds utterly splendid, superb, and sublime in out-of-this-world kinda time (and your coyness, My Good Man, were no crime). Did you decide to take the pic of the goose before or after you knew the poem was writing you? Well, that's for you to know and me to wonder (and wonder is the word of the event, simply wondrously wonderful); you sound a little tired, too; so, that proves what I say is true :). Good on you and thanks for this bird's-eye sigh-high view.

    — Truliously yours, you know who

  5. Hi Judith,

    The poem took me into the late night, and then I woke up in the morning hating how I overused commas and such in the draft. So I changed that.

    The poem had been tugging at me from the first time I watched the white goose while I was in New Jersey. I took the picture a couple days later, after I had taken walks around the beautiful grounds and poetic festivities there, unconsciously, but also consciously accumulating details. I took the picture of the goose after it looked at me.

    But it wasn't until I got home to Massachusetts, that it all snapped together suddenly and I went quickly to the Wordpad and started writing the poem down. So I think that taking the picture was important at least to my making more than a mental note of what was taking place. It wasn't until I was in the final stanza that I referred to the picture, remembering that I had taken it.


  6. Thanks for that, Rus. Like the way you were thinking about too many commas . . . because, well, that's the kind of thing I think when I wake up, not necessarily commas, per se; but, you know, in the middle of making or shaping a piece, it does grip you as much as you grapple with it; so, that's reassuring. No matter how you arrived at the final version, the photograph must always appear with it since it seems so right, somehow; and, I am pleased you shared the process with me. It means either you're nuts or we're both not nuts :). J/Kiddin' . . . My weird way of saying, simply, thank you. Next time you go anywhere, I shall expect a report, a pic, and another fine poem, too. (Fingers crossed.)

    Yours truliously, Judith