Thursday, November 30, 2006

World AIDS Day

World AIDS Day is tomorrow, and here on campus we're reading poems through the noon hour, a more-or-less annual event now (three times since 2003). This year the reading's held in the Samek Gallery, up in the student center, where all week there's a display of panels from the NAMES Project, including, I anticipate, the one I made for David back in 1995.

Can it be ten years? Eleven? Twenty-five now since it all started?

This year's reading is all Tory Dent: 24 poems from her long sequence "Black Milk." I wish we had time to read the whole set.

There's a reading of the names going on all week as well, interrupted tomorrow by an hour of poems, then back into the litany of the fallen.

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High wind advisory for tomorrow, and possible snow in the evening. Damp and mild today, more April than November. Walking to class this morning, I stopped to pick up a large caterpillar from the wet sidewalk: putty-colored with a slight yellow-green cast and a double ridge of small triangular markings down its back. Hairless caterpillars always seem ready to burst: I can't not think of the goo inside. This one was over two inches long and resembled a cutworm, except that every cutworm I've ever picked up instantly coils into a defensive spiral. This one lay stretched out, rigid, barely moving.

[photo: natural (?) indentations in limestone, Bald Eagle State Park]

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Hello, I must be going

Last week of classes: we finish on Tuesday. I have numerous individual conferences scheduled, and can barely keep up at this point. Up at six, home at six, quick dinner and spazzfest during Jeopardy!, then back upstairs to write more feedback on more poems, tweak lesson plans, grade journals, respond to e-mails. As usual, I regret not having done a better job; as usual, I'm already planning ahead to the next time I'll teach these courses (should I be so lucky).

In bed by ten tonight if I can help it: yesterday I came home for a three-hour nap, then went back in for a few hours.

I'd love to chat but duty calls. Maybe in a week or so.

[photo: my favorite Bear Paw quilt, circa 1865 (detail)]

Monday, November 13, 2006


Some good local readings to attend this week (see my PA Poetry blog for full details): Junot Díaz on the 15th (Bloomsburg), C.K. Williams on the 16th (Williamsport), and Daniel Blasi here at Bucknell on the 17th. I want to go hear Díaz, but may have to skip the next night. I'll definitely make the Friday session--which was, I'd heard, to have included Blas Falconer as well. Pity that, because I've heard good things about his poems and was looking forward to meeting him.

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Randy finished his whole-cloth quilt last week (over a week ago, in fact) and I bound it this weekend. It looks wonderful. He does such good work. Pictures soon.

* * * * *

My intro CW course (for spring) is already full, and I've started receiving requests to "add in" over the quota. There are several "undecideds" in the roster, but--as far as I can tell--only one student who's declaring a CW concentration. Lots of science majors. Could be fun.

* * * * *

Trying to figure out when I might get back to Cincinnati over the winter holiday. I'm eyeing the week of December 11--a few days after classes end, but plenty of time to get back before final grades are due. To fly? Or drive? The roads in December can be so iffy, especially heading through the mountains. But I'd rather have a car.

[photo: rex begonia leaf]

Saturday, November 11, 2006


Last Saturday morning, I overslept: Randy woke me at 6:30, asking what time did I need to get on the Philly bus. "6:45," I moaned, "I'll never make it." He insisted that I try, and somehow I managed to shower and dress (I'd set out my clothes and packed a bookbag the night before) in record time; Randy drove me over to campus and I was on the bus before our scheduled 7:00 departure.

Our first stop was the Philadelphia Art Museum, which I enjoyed immensely, and then we hopped back on the bus to catch "Pillow Man" at the Wilma Theatre Project. A really fine performance. I miss going to plays (Houston was a great theatre town, with both the Alley and Stages Repertory Theatre, not to mention the campus productions at the University of Houston, where Edward Albee still teaches).

The rest of the evening--about four hours--we were left on our own. I wandered the South Street area, where we'd been dropped after the show, waiting for a call back from a Philly acquaintance we've only met online, but he never showed up. Found a pretty decent Thai place for dinner (eating dinner alone in a strange city always makes me feel pathetic, invisible; I project attachments onto every cute waiter and then silently chastise myself--it's a ridiculously predictable internal melodrama) and, later, a great diner with awesome carrot cake and very good coffee (which I've pretty much given up, but this was good enough to tempt me into reconsidering).

Nothing terribly exciting, but it's the first city I've been to since I think March. Even the bus ride was interesting: listening to my little MP3 player, the song tracks overlaying the slanted reflections of lit buildings in the bus window as they seemed to slide past, glancing up occasionally at the too-orange projection of "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind" on the DVD player--a movie I haven't seen yet, so the random image sampling added a nicely surreal element to my mood.

[photo: stained glass panel from the 15th (?) century]

Thursday, November 09, 2006

happy feet!

George Allen is giving his concession speech in less than an hour. The Democrats have retaken the Senate. Locally, we threw out Rick Santorum and Don Sherwood.

Happy, happy feet.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Advising Week

It's advising week, which shouldn't faze me (because I'm on a one-year contract), but actually does--because anyone who teaches a Foundation Seminar is automatically assigned those students as advisees. So every year that I've taught my "Poetry, Identity, Community" course, I've gained a small band of advisees-- who almost immediately need to be handed over to someone else (because I've been, at best, on a one-year contract).

One might imagine that I know nothing--and care less--about advising my temporary charges. But I love these sessions: we talk about course options and curriculum requirements, yes, but also about how they're doing: in their other classes, in the dorms, in central Pennsylvania as compared to New York or Pittsburgh or California. And though it's understandable that some students have a bit of anxiety over which courses to take (Will this be a waste of time? Is this the wrong thing to do?), and though our particular university is pretty strict about scooting folks out on schedule (no lazy semesters of sampling electives), I'm always struck by the truly vast expanse of time that lies before them. So many possibilities wait ahead. (Of course, I keep this sentiment to myself: no eighteen-year-old wants an old guy urging "Relax, relax, you've got your whole life ahead of you.")

* * * * *
Just found an e-mail from Rachel Newcomb, who was a fellow "June Poet" back in 1994 and is now an assistant professor of anthropology! Rachel has new fiction forthcoming in Painted Bride Quarterly. I owe her an e-mail, but I have poems to grade and a meeting to dash off to. Soon. Soon. It's wonderful to hear from folks this way: I remember Rachel well. (And no, I'm not gonna tell any stories on her.)