The biggest eyes.
We spent the week in Modern Poetry reading excerpts from The Cantos. The students were surprisingly game for it all. I think it helps that I confess my own ambivalence every time, so that they neither feel they must celebrate his genius nor denounce his nastiness but can instead actually respond to what's there. Next week: Gertrude Stein.
Tomorrow Lake Forest's Homecoming Weekend begins. I'll be taking part in an Alumni College event in which alumni get to feel like they're students once again. My chair, Rick Mallette, and I will discuss Frost's "Design." A spooky old chestnut of a poem. He's going to do an old-fashioned close reading, and I'm going to try and get all ecocritical about it.
And next week I come out as a poet to the rest of the faculty: we have a lunchtime series here where people present on their work or research to other faculty members. After some deliberation as to whether to talk about scholarship or my own poetry, I chose the latter. This is the squib I came up with to publicize the event:
Severance Songs: The Odyssey at HomeI do hope I can find a home for this book someday soon; I believe it has some of my best work in it, and it's come to seem like the most complete gesture that I've made poetically in the past decade.
A reading from and talk about Joshua’s recently completed manuscript of poems, Severance Songs. Begun in the wake of September 11 and continued through the Iraq War, these poems ask whether it’s possible to live a right life in a wrong world. Or to put things in terms of the book’s enabling counter-myth: what if Odysseus had never gone to Troy? How do you find Ithaca if you’ve never left it? How do we take responsibility for a world we never made? And if we do not, who will? War, pastoral, humor, and love move in these poems toward his tentative conclusion: in severance there is yet a bond.
Homeward bound now for birthday cake (if I'm lucky) and Palin's making a complete ass of herself in the VP debate (if we're all lucky).