April 13, 2017

Scissortail Creative Writing Festival, Thursday, April 6 — Patricia Hampl

The Scissortail Festival always includes featured readers. Patricia Hampl, tonight’s reader, had been in the audience all day, fully engaged with the Festival, listening to the other writers, making new friends as well. She was introduced tonight by Sarah Peters of the ECU faculty.

 Patricia read from her forth-coming book The Art of the Wasted Day (Viking Penguin).  She began with a discussion of whom she called “the first modern day-dreamer,” the French writer Michel de Montaigne (1533 - 1592) & his Essais (1580). The title of her new book was, for me, provocative, as I’ve become quite adept at frittering away my time, & not feeling at all guilty about it.

The segment that she read weaved a memoir of her early piano lessons while in Catholic school discovering books, her sheet music dissolving in the rain, seamlessly moving back & forth through time. While written in prose the leaping associative connections from her childhood to her late husband was poetry, which indeed she had started out with as a young writer. Once a poet, always a poet, I guess.

During the Q&A after her reading she talked about the current fascination with memoirs as a form of writing history with a way to put the “I” into the story. Also as a way to introduce the bigger story — of political, spiritual issues — into the personal & collective narrative.

At the end she was awarded the Scissortail commemorative plate given to each of the featured readers, something to fill with cookies, as it is already filled with memories. &, as expected, there was a long line afterwards of book-lovers eager to get their copies of her books signed.

No comments: