At The College of St. Rose, Albany, NY, curated by Daniel Nester.
The third in this year's series of four readings featured Gregory Pardlo & Darcey Steinke.
Gregory Pardlo's book of poems, Totem, was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2007. The poems he read tonight were accessible, discursive & often about his own experience. His "Landscape with Intervention" dealt with the appropriation of images, art versus corporate control. A couple poems used historical content, such as "Restoring O'Keefe," a wonderful piece about Georgia O'Keefe's brief affair with the writer Jean Toomer; another, "Vanitas: Camden Ferry," combined his musings on the ferry with the underground railroad. One of his more personal pieces, "Suburban Passionale," brought me back to my days delivering newspapers, but whereas his customer was a neighborhood beauty smoking pot & listening to Miles Davis, the best I could come up with was the housewife buttoning her blouse giving me a blessed view of her lace bra as she opened the door.
Darcey Steinke has written a novel, Suicide Blonde, & short fiction, but tonight she read from a memoir, Easter Everywhere (Bloomsbury, 2007). She read 3 excerpts, one about visiting a poor family to deliver food with her minister father at age 3 (!), another at age 5, and the third, & most compelling because of its humor, about going to speech therapy for a stutter at age 13. None of the pieces showed any evidence of the "stumble back toward faith" that Nester described in his opening remarks. And how she can remember anything from age 3 begs the question of memoir v. novel. It's like if any of Kerouac's novels were published today, they would be marketed as "memoirs" by the corporate booksellers. The thinly disguised autobiographical novels of the past have become today's thinly disguised fictional memoirs. Nonetheless, Steinke's work was well-written & enjoyable.
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