As I mentioned in a recent Blog, we are fortunate to have many of poetry events occurring each week in this area, & on this day there were 2 events on the same day, one at the University at Albany sponsored by New York State Writers Institute, another later that evening at Russell Sage College in Troy. Actually at the Writers Institute there were 2 appearances by poet Sharon Olds, one in the afternoon, another scheduled in the evening (Poet Ocean Vuong was originally scheduled to be with Sharon Olds but had to cancel at the last minute). I decided that if I went to the afternoon conversation with Ms. Olds, I could get to the Rev Reading later at Russell Sage with poets Amanda Deutch & Lori Anderson Moseman, a good plan as it turned out.
Billed as a Craft Talk, the afternoon event started as they often do in such settings with a series of introductions: NYS Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl introduced Edward Schwazschild, Associate Professor of Fiction Writing, American Literature & Film Studies, who read an essay on the work of Sharon Olds by way of introducing the poet, who, in turn, introduced, with characteristic good humor, her intentional tremor. And then went on to bring Ocean Vuong into the conversation by talking about him as one of her former students & reading his poem “Threshold” from his award-winning book Night Sky with Exit Wounds (Copper Canyon Press, 2016).
In response to audience questions she talked about the rhythm of walking, our musical nature & that “it is built into us to make art.” Asked if she has a place to go to feel inspired, she said that she pays attention to the odd thoughts in her head, that she usually writes a poem in one sitting, that the first draft is as finished as it can be, & that a poem is finished “if it lets me go.”
Although she has a new book out, Aria, about which she spoke briefly, she didn’t read any of her own poems. But she did talk about the value of memorizing poems — again, about hearing poetry — & in conclusion recited the Langston Hughes poem “Luck.” And it occurred to me that her workshop method of just hearing the poems, without comment or critique, is what happens every week of the month at the area open mics: we read our one or two or three poems, then sit down & listen to the next poet on the sign-up sheet.
|Lori Anderson Moseman, Amanda Deutch, Karen Randall|
I’ve been following the work of Lori Anderson Moseman since the early 1990s when she was a student at SUNY Albany, & her first chapbook Walking the Dead (Heaven Bone Press, 1991) (my copy still bears her fingerprint made with red wine). She began with a discussion & show-&-tell of her 2015 Propolis Press collaboration with Karen Randall, Full Quiver, a work that pairs poems with examples of Bronze Age Luwian hieroglyphics & modern QR codes. She read poems from her experience out West, then on to excerpts from the book-length poem Y (the operations system, 2019), in which Y is actually the name of a central character. She concluded with a piece titled “Wishbones as Grave Stones,” with a character named “Chipper” written in response to Matthew Klane’s comment on the grim nature of the characters in her poems.
The REV is co-sponsored with the department of Arts & Letters, and The Sage Colleges Libraries, and supported by the Carol Ann Donahue Poetry Fund, at Russell Sage College in Troy. You can find them on Facebook.