I live in this little town along the Mississippi River and there happens to be a fairly significant arts center just up the road. And a poet (Robert Hedin, above) happens to run things.
His wife happens to run the yoga studio in town (my first yoga experience) and I served on jury duty with her. (Her kindness and sense of good was grounding.)
And on a fairly regular basis, there is an astounding event held at the center.
Joyce Sutphen: who was already one of my favorite poets, who became the poet laureate of Minnesota, who blurbed me, gave a charming introduction to the poet. It's safe to say that I adore her.
And then there he was, Ted Kooser, whose book Winter Morning Walks I began to crush on this month, and I copied some lines in my notebook as he read:
"thread of a worm"
"white disk of chicken fat on soup left to cool"
"the guttering candle of my father's breath"
"the indifferent, casual manner of peonies"
"I felt the firm deck of the day tilt"
thunderhead as "dragging its shaggy belly across the fields"
red sprouts of peonies as "birthday candles" (as his birthday is in April)
iris having "dusty, dry fists of roots"
And then there was the surprise of Debra Winger, who read a bit from a book of hers, and the first question from the audience was: Um. How did you two meet?
Apparently, Winger was on a date with then-Nebraska governor, whilst shooting Terms of Endearment and to show off, the gov. introduced her to Kooser. Winger said she thought, "I don't know how it's going to work out with this guy, but him, I'm going to know forever." (Funny how this is what I thought when I met the man who became my husband. Honestly. I thought: I don't care how I know him, I just know I want him to be a part of my life forever. Lucky me, marrying him and all.)
Through other questions, Kooser revealed he is also "one who paints and draws," which, he said, means he likes to use details you would only know if you were there. He spoke of how, with students, he would go around the room and ask them to name details--perhaps, he would name an old farm as the setting and they would name a spool of twine, etc.--"a kind of calendar of details"--but then "throw in a bag of potato chips, something you'd only know if you were there."
He also mentioned the "I" in the poems--and how when he was younger, the poems were more ego-centric, but as he grew older, he grew out of that and took on the world. He then read a poem about a conversation he overhead in (oh, I think it was--) an auto repair shop.
This led me to think of my own beastly manuscript, which was warned to be/come solipsistic by a workshop peer, which I continue to think about in the I-terms, and wonder about confessional poetry, and wonder about my intentions, which are that the world of experience is broad, and here is mine, but I mean it to be yours too, and I never want to be selfish as a poet, but rather: is this longing discussed enough? Is there a broadening to occur?
Before the reading, there was the family time: roots + wings