July 24, 2015
The Summer Writers Institute Reading Series, July 20
Readings have been going on up at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, home of the Writers Institute’s Summer Writing Program, since the end of June, but this is the first one I’ve been able to get to. It was sort of a random choice & also a chance for me to have dinner at Sperry’s with a poet friend.
Davis Auditorium in Palamountain Hall slowly filled with mostly young students, but a few older poets from the community & others, such as Henri Cole, from the summer program faculty. April Bernard, from the Skidmore English Department, introduced Bob Boyers who introduced the first reader, novelist Cristina Garcia. Boyers’ introductions, gushing fountains of praise, are a tradition itself here at the summer program, & tonight he read from 3 hand written pages ripped from a spiral notebook.
Earlier in the day I had heard news stories nearly every hour on NPR about the opening today of the Cuban embassy in Washington, DC & the US embassy in Havana, normalizing diplomatic relations after over 50 years. I had been expecting Boyers in his introduction, or Garcia, born in Cuba & a former journalist for Time Magazine in Miami, at some point to mention this historic event that is so close to her work, & her life, but neither did. Politics, or academic indifference? Who knows?
the College of St. Rose. Tonight he read from the forth-coming (in September) The Pink Trance Notebooks that he described as “poetry” drawn from segments from his diaries, “sketchbooks in effect,” he said, “paratactic,” 2 segments, “Trans-Notebook #2: Nerdy Questions about Perfect Pitch," & “Trans-Notebook #3: A Testicle Descends, a Lark Ascends,” with references to not only Ralph Vaughn Williams, but also to Verdi operas, both pieces like strings of gaudy plastic beads without a necklace. He ended with a reading of his essay “Debbie Harry at the Supermarket,” more professional cleverness going nowhere, except perhaps to all tomorrow’s parties. Or, as Leonard Cohen once said “Other forms of boredom advertised as Poetry.”
I guess I just picked the wrong night to check out the Summer Writers Program at Skidmore. At least it was free -- & I had had a nice dinner with my friend.