I’m excited to be taking part in the Fall for the Book Festival in Fairfax, VA, in a few weeks. I’ll be reading with two other George Mason University alumni, Matt Burriesci and Alyson Foster, on Wednesday, Sept. 17, at 6 pm in the Center for the Arts on the GMU campus.
I can remember attending the earlier (and smaller!) Fall for the Book festivals in the early 2000s in downtown Fairfax and on campus, including an award for Tobias Wolff, a poetry reading by the late Reetika Vazirani, and the hilarity of Julianna Baggott. I’m honored to be a part of the festival and looking forward to revisiting the DC area.
I’m looking forward to a different sort of reading this Friday and Saturday (March 14 and 15). I’ll be performing as part of the Cincinnati Contemporary Dance Theater’s Performance and Time Arts series, which brings together music, dance, poetry, and performance. Tickets are $12 in advance, $8 in advance for students and seniors. Though the promo material says I’ll be reading from Full Cry, I’ll actually be reading new work, a sequence of sonnets called “Courtly Love (for Courtney Love),” with a slide show of images projected behind me. I’ve never put together anything like this, so I’m looking forward to seeing how it goes.
The sequence itself was inspired by the quizzical looks I got if I didn’t enunciate as I told people that I was researching courtly love for my dissertation. They heard, of course, Courtney Love, grunge-rocker extraordinaire, lightning rod for controversy, feminist icon and object and victim and performer. I joked that I needed to write a sonnet sequence for her. And then I did. It’s been a lot of fun, and the first four sonnets are forthcoming in the online journal Matter.
However, poems from Full Cry will be featured elsewhere in the program: Sarah Hutchings, an amazing composer who graduated from the CCM doctoral program last year, has set part of another poem of mine to music. This time it’s “Evening Star,” a poem that is in part ekphrastic and based on this painting by Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot. I can’t wait to hear what Sarah has done with it!
And thanks to Juked for featuring a poem from my second-book manuscript–this one, Preface, appears first and sets the stage. It’s an adaptation of the preface to a 12th century Latin text called De Amore, roughly translated today as The Art of Courtly Love. The author Andreas Capellanus, presumably a cleric, gives “Walter” advice about how to woo women; it’s likely a satirical text, so we have no way of knowing how well it represents the courting technique at the Champagne court in which it was written. (There’s also a crazy section about how courtiers from particular socioeconomic classes should approach women from various classes. Farm girls are fair game, he says.) You can read the original preface, in all its awkward syntax, as translated by John Jay Perry on the eighteenth page of this pdf. It was fun to imagine what kind of advice Andreas would give Walter today.
It’s a great day! My book, Full Cry, is now available on Amazon.com. If you prefer to pay with a check, you can buy it through the website of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies.
I also heard last week that a poem of mine will be part of the Out of Sequenceproject sponsored by Upstart: A Journal of English Renaissance Studies. My poem, called “Weak Constitution,” riffs on the lines “My love is as a fever longing still / For that which longer nurseth the disease,” from Shakespeare’s Sonnet 147.
I’m also looking forward to returning as a contributor to the pages of the Notre Dame Review. Much thanks to Orlando Ricardo Menes for picking up two poems from my second-book manuscript.
Even more fun news! I’m honored to be part of the 2013-14 Observable Readings series in St. Louis. I’ll be reading on Monday, Oct. 14, at 7:30 p.m. with Ansel Elkins and Erika L. Sanchez at Llewellyn’s Pub in the Central West End. It’ll be good to reconnect with friends and family in St. Louis that weekend.
Finally, as a sort of summer wrap-up, I’d like to say thank you to all the great friends I made at the Sewanee Writers Conference last month. Thanks for being such a welcoming group, and thanks to the staff who worked so hard! I loved getting to hear what my peers were working on–as well as what the greats are up to. Readings by Robert Hass, Tim O’Brien, A.E. Stallings, Claudia Emerson, Mark Strand, and many more bowled me over–and in some cases, brought me to tears. The picture here captures the last morning there, when fog shrouded the graveyard where Allen Tate is buried.
This Saturday, I’ll be reading as part of a dinner at the convention of the National Federation of State Poetry Societies, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I’ve never been to the Southwest, and I look forward to feeling what dry heat is like. Having lived mostly in swampy places or river valleys (St. Louis, Cincinnati, DC), I associate summer with air so thick you can chew on it. If you’re in the Albuquerque area and interested in coming to the reading, let me know, though I’m pretty sure the entrance price is steep because it’s a dinner. I’ll also be taking part in a signing around 4:30 pm on Sunday.
This convention is the debut for Full Cry; it should be available on Amazon soon, and I’ll announce it to high heavens when it is. If you can’t wait that long (and you don’t live in New Mexico), you can order it through the NFSPS. According to their website, you should send $15 plus $1.50 postage to Polly Opsahl at 270 Brewster Road, Rochester Hills, MI 48309-1507. Her email address is pollyannop [at] comcast [dot] net.
Also, on Wednesday, July 3, at 7 p.m., I’ll be reading at Horizon Books in Traverse City, MI, if any vacationers are headed to that area for the Fourth of July week and want to get their poetry fix.
And a St. Louis reading is also in the works for the fall!