Friday, February 1, 2013

loft mentor series reading #2

I drove up to the Twin Cities with my daughter strapped in the back, ready to exchange her as I once did when I taught Thursday nights at the university.  My husband's work, so familiar meeting car-to-car, transfer of seat and diaper bag, and he thrust her onto his shoulders, jogging with her to the door, her pink coat flopping.  My eyes stung as they did two years ago, when I'd quickly give her as much milk as she would tolerate; she never took to the bottle and it would be a long night for my husband with this infant, squirting pumped milk from the bottle, her squalling and my engorgement meeting in the night.  I don't know why I felt as if I were leaving her again like this; she's two now and so very independent.  I struggle with the separation of these two lives:  mother and wife / poet in the world.

But I knew venturing out for this night would be very worth it, despite the snowstorm that hit halfway through the drive and left me creeping toward the parking lot.  Kelly Hansen Maher, a fellow participant in the Loft Mentor Series, was reading, and her work truly, truly blows me away on a regular basis.  Her reading was no less.  She has a background in theatre and knew exactly how to guide the reader through her heartbreaking poems, where she melds the north woods with pregnancy loss--poems of loon calls and canoeing in fragmentary bits, punching and moving.  It should be no surprise that I cried--pregnancy hormones, perhaps, stroking my enormous belly as I sat there--but too, Kelly's worth is so honest and heartfelt and told in a form I could not manage myself, and as a person, I really think she's amazing and deserves so much.  Pregnancy and (in)fertility have been such driving forces in my own work; it's hard not to take those varying levels of no personally, internalize them and put as much wish into others' lives as I can.

Also reading was Jude Nutter, one of our mentors, and her work is equally breathtaking.  She's a narrative-lyric poet, has three books, the last two of which I've read (I'm trying to get my hands on the first), both of which blew me away in her descriptions of the world.  She's a good model for me, a goal to get my own poems, about very different subjects, to work towards--the long narrative, the poem holding together over pages, as opposed to the drive-bys I do sometimes.  Creating a solid world, a book that exists on one plane and several at once.

I missed the first reading when I fell under pregnancy's varying levels of (un)wellness.  It stoppers me up sometimes, causing me to miss events I truly wish to attend.  The commute of an hour does not help; I feel as if I could make it to some of these things, if it weren't for the two-hour sit.  Fortunately, the Loft records these things, and I would recommend checking out MaryAnn Franta Moenck's reading of family history poems and Amy Sullivan's account of the Girl Scout camp murders in the 1970s.

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