Oops, I bought some owls. October has been a productive month for me so far… in some ways.
I finally finished Wolf Hall; I ordinarily move through books pretty quickly (or else I could hardly be a Victorianist), but this one stalled me for a number of weeks. It was a slow read, in a good way. Unsurprisingly, a Booker Prize winner makes a terrible gym read; I’ve been stuck with wrinkled, abandoned copies of US Weekly lately, because I am utterly incapable of reading two books at the same time. I finally remembered that I’ve been meaning to read The History of Love when I stumbled upon a copy of it on the heaped high tables of discount books at Costco; I started reading it on the plane this weekend, fell in love, and then left it in my mom’s car. Hopefully, my book and I will be reunited soon.
I traveled this past weekend to exotic Newark, NJ for the Dodge Poetry Festival; we stayed with Ricky’s parents and met up with my mom, who was also in town for four intense days of poetry. I’ve gone to the Dodge, which is biennial, every two years since 2002; I never could have imagined that I would sit for ten hours of poetry in a muddy tent, or that I would excitedly chase after the autographs of poets to add to my now impressive collection of signed volumes. I missed the transcendent setting of the last festival. The New Jersey Performing Arts Center is surprisingly lovely, but I missed the more casual, outdoor events of the past; it was too hard this year to wander from poet to poet without fuss. The manicured setting also lacked some of the spontaneity that made the previous events so memorable— I can’t remember if we actually heard a bat during Mark Doty’s reading of “Pipistrelle,” but it certainly seemed possible. And that sense of possibility is so important to the Dodge, and to poetry.
I’m teaching poetry this week— perfect timing. I’m going to play a clip of Billy Collins reading “Hangover” for my students.