Thursday, April 15, 2004

An embarrassment of riches: April 15, 2004 

There are a number of first-rate readings going on tonight in the Philadelphia area -- I wish I could go to them all.

Here are three:


Lou McKee is reading with Dan Hoffman. Long-time editor of the Painted Bride Quarterly and now One Trick Pony and publisher of Banshee Press Lou Mckee is a heartbreakingly honest poet and writer. Lou was my high school English teacher, and in addition to being a no-nonsense teacher (he secret was that he gave a shit about literature and the kids), he turned me onto poetry by giving me the anthology The Voice Great Within Us. Recently I have been reading Hoffman's smart and enjoyable book on Edgar Allan Poe: Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe, Poe.

2.) Robert Creeley Villanova University at 7:30 PM (Info: 610-519-4630).

This past Sunday, The Philadelphia Inquirer published a review of Creeley's new collection of poems. Here is some of what I wrote:

"I am ahead. I am not dead./Shovel it in," writes Robert Creeley with a dark bravado and verve in the last stanza of his "Supper." The poem might as well be called "The Last Supper," but is not, as the poet continues to "shovel it in."

The new poems in If I were writing this are a powerful and down-to-earth amplification of Creeley's well-known expressive minimalist aesthetic. At their most engaging the poems offer an alchemy of innocence and experience, which evokes William Blake at his most stirring. Again, in the poem "Supper," Creeley writes:

Days on the way,
lawn's like a shorn head
and all the chairs are put away
again. Shovel it in.

Eat for strength, for health.
Eat for the hell of it, for
yourself, for country and your mother.
Eat what your little brother didn't.

Be content with your lot
and all you got.
Be whatever they want.
Shovel it in.

3.) 6:00 PM: A Celebration of National Book Critics' Circle Award Winners Susan Stewart and Paul Hendrickson at the Kelly Writers House. (I will be attending Stewart and Hendrickson's reading.)

Susan Stewart is one of my favorite contemporary poets and writers. Her new book Columbarium is a gift to all who appreciate the power and beauty of language and thought, and their attended pressures, as they are counterbalanced with the intriguing pressures of Stewart's verse.

Paul Hendrickson is first-rate nonfiction writer, working in the tradition of what Tom Wolfe dubbed the New Journalism. Hendrickson's book Sons of Mississippi recounts the story of seven white Mississippi lawmen depicted in a horrifically telling 1962 Life magazine photograph and of the racial intolerance that is their legacy.

--Tom Devaney

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