Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Okay, I know I promised dirt on AWP as well as verbal mementoes of my assorted travels. But I'm just too tired! I will, however, list some highlights of the past ten or eleven days in roughly chronological order:
- Hanging out with Richard and Trevor. These guys are my poetry brothers and we always have a great time together. I miss them something awful.

- Meeting Richard's mom and brother in Portland; his brother looks just like him.

- Reading with Richard at PSU thanks in part to the gracious offices of Michele Glazer (author most recently of Aggregate of Disturbances from Iowa). Portland State is Richard's alma mater and it was fun to see the hometown boy make good. Also, my cousins Dan Smith and Josh Davidson live in Seattle and they came out to see me read for the first time. Met Dan's girlfriend Bethany for the first time, too.

- Discovering Open Books in Seattle for the first time. What an amazing store and what an amazing couple the owners John and Christine are. There was an especially nice crowd at our reading, plus three of our old Montana writing buddies who now live in Seattle (with babies!) showed up: Betsy Haring (sp?), Jon Groebner, and Emily Bedard.

- Powells! My god, you'd need three days just to browse the first floor! I had cannily brought some books to trade and so only spent $20 total on a number of interesting titles, including Johanna Drucker's Figuring the Word, the original edition of Peter Gizzi's beautiful first book Periplum, and the long-coveted double issue of o-blek, Writers from the New Coast. Next time I'm bringing a bigger box.

- The most marvelous fish and chips at a place called Chinooks in Seattle. Spring for the halibut.

- Seattle's great beauty and cosmopolitan vibe. Like a less pretentious San Francisco. Very high on my list of places I'd like to settle.

- Our AWP panel and the nice comments we got from seemingly everyone we met afterwards.

- The book fair: I'm not at home so I can't provide a list of everything I stuffed into my duffel bag, but I will tell you what I bought and read on the plane: Canadian film director Guy Maddin's wonderfully bitchy memoirs, From the Atelier Tovar, and A Book from Nicole Brossard's The Blue Books, both from Coach House. Passed up on both volumes of Steve McCaffrey's collected for just $12 each, a decision I now regret. The press' director, Alana Wilcox, was very friendly to me and invited me to come and tour the press (it really is in an old coach house) if I ever come up to Toronto. Which I will certainly do.

- Meeting up with Montana folks old and new; I pretty much covered this in my earlier post.

- The friendly atmosphere of Vancouver in general and the conference in particular; there were as always plentiful opportunities for humiliation but I managed not to answer that door. I think.

- New York, New York! Yesterday my parents and I took the ferry into Manhattan and one of the most flawless spring afternoons imaginable. We wandered through the galleries in Chelsea, then down to a late lunch/early dinner at Pastis, a terrific bistro on what I think they call little 12th Street. From there we ambled down to Houston and over to Bowery to Dixon Place, where we were treated to the most marvelous hospitality by Paul Johnson, Ellie Covan, Kimberly Brandt, and some other very cool folks. Embarrassed to realize that I'd met my fellow reader, Matthew Burgess, when he'd come up to read as part of Jane Sprague's West End Reading Series a couple of years ago with Lisa Jarnot. It was actually something of a West End reunion because Jen Coleman and Allison Cobb also showed up. I also got to meet Brend Iijima for the first time along with Erica Kaufman, both of whome were kind enough to buy copies of Selah. Dixon Place is currently in a very cool, cozy, and casual black box space with lots of couches and a fridge full of beer. We read to a full house: I read just one poem from Selah, "Infected Elegy" (which is strangely fun to read considering what a sad poem it is) and devoted the rest of my time to Fourier Series. Matthew read from a new chapbook, Yeah, You and some new poems, delighting me by ending with a New York poem with "pastoral" in the title. I'm semi-languagey, he's more New York School; it made for a surprisngly good mix. Rode the ferry home to New Jersey looking back at the blazing skyline feeling a little bit like the Michael J. Fox character in Bright Lights, Big City, only without the cocaine.
Found my second wind, I guess. That's all the news for now, though the alert among you will have spotted bigger news to come....

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