Sunday, November 09, 2003

on the verge of the lunar eclipse and our harmonic convergence 

Saturday, 11/8

4:00 PM: Four Generations of Writers at Penn: A Homecoming
Reading and Celebration

Join the Kelly Writers House community as we celebrate four
generations of writers at Penn, featuring readings by Emeritus
Professor Paul Fussell, Professor and alumnus Gregory Djanikian
(C'71), alumnus Suzanne Maynard Miller (C'89), and recent
graduate Allie D'Augustine (C'02). Stop by after the game to
spend some time at the Writers House and share in the diversity
and richness that has been and continues to be part of the
culture of writing at Penn. A reception will follow.


where do i begin? first of all, i'm hoping others who were there will add to what i have to say. Suzanne Miller's play was a lot of fun. her character Michael is the owner of a failing bookstore, and the leader of a dysfunctional book club. i hope she takes my advice about contacting Booksense.com when it finally hits the stage. they like to support ANYTHING supporting independently owned bookstores. and i hope enough noise is made about the play when it's finally ready for the stage so i know it's going on. i want to see the whole thing.

there seem to be thousands of poems i look at in a year's time in various magazines which leave me dissatisfied. the first time Allie D'Augustine let me read one of her poems i said to myself, "THIS is the American poetry i want to rest my ear on!"

Allie is how old? 23? anyway, she's young, and it makes me so happy when i read young poets writing the poems that excite! at times i want a mantra "keep writing keep writing keep writing keep writing keep writing keep writing keep writing keep writing keep writing DON'T STOP!" so many, i can't believe how many, stop. i'm selfish, completely selfish, because i want to see more and more and i want to follow the path taken in the poems as a life moves out in its wider embrace of experience.

Allie is GREAT to have a disagreement with, one of those souls with her own ideas, who listens, fights it back, or sees how things might correlate with her own thoughts. her passion to keep herself free to have her ideas and feelings is part of the best of her which helps shape the poems, and makes them very much her poems!

she said i could publish whatever i wanted on the blog, but since they're all unpublished, i don't want to be greedy, and will just print one of my favorites from her reading yesterday.


To Have and Have Not
by Allie D'Augustine

To have a sea of seamless unspoiled children:
the range of voices,
the concrete cavern,
will be indelibly etched
to blur in a confusion of childhood memory turned to something so tangible.
The way we turn over and over again is not good.
The patriarch arrives, screams at us later from the kitchen.
Light -- the sun glances lifts your spirits.
The correct words, carefully orchestrated, high-kick their way just outside.

To have a black bird and a white bird and a most spacious ship:
"It can seem to blur..." she trails off.
Remotely approximate buildings become full-size.
Dancing 'til dawn ever breaks. Conjure up a likely man,
the first person to step, scouting to see the intersection of Fifth Avenue.


wish i could tell you something about the other two readers. not too much wine in me, but just enough that i was captivated by the scene out the window. there's a frat house next door to the Writer's House, and a very agitated young man was standing at the side entrance on his cell phone, waving his arms and yelling "YOU'RE INCREDIBLE! JUST INCREDIBLE! CAN YOU HEAR YOURSELF!? DO YOU EVEN HEAR WHAT YOU'RE SAYING RIGHT NOW!?" what was she saying? why do i assume the other person on the other line was a she? he drained his Pabst Blue Ribbon and threw the can down the steps. more arm waving and shaking his head and shrugging his shoulders and it made me think about the amazing amount of nonverbal communication we have, and how a cell phone conversation lacks most of the vitals for a relationship. e-mail even moreso, of course. e-mail, wow, i've gotten my ass into some pretty funky trouble on e-mail for lack of expressing myself with the proper language.

i wonder if this guy would have been having the same sort of body language via e-mail? draining his beer can and throwing it next to his bed? his conversation was really touching at times, when he'd slow down and say "Please listen to me, please, just listen to me." am i a freak for watching this? it's not my fault he chose to have this cell phone argument several feet from a very crowded room of people listening to poetry. you'd be watching him too, don't give me that, i know you would. wow, i'm defensive all of a sudden.

by the way, his argument seemed to end okay. no hang ups. some slow nods and the body language almost slow dancing from side to side and him smiling. his empty beer can in the leaves, waiting for the lunar eclipse. i wish i could have emptied myself for the eclipse. organs, blood, shit, stored in coolers locked shut from the mice. but only the dead are empty enough to let this harmonic convergence flow easily through the ribs and press against the jaw.

after the reading i met up with Matt, Nicole, Bill and Christine. we drove out to Fairmount Park to watch the eclipse with plenty of wine and beer. it was a lovely night, what else can i say?


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