Thursday, June 09, 2005

IUWC Wednesday night: Stanton, Ardizzone

Maura Stanton began by telling us she was going to read eight poems. I can't recall anyone else ever opening with the poem count and for some reason I found it amusing. Maybe I'm just weird. Anyway, she opened with a great poem about recovering from surgery while the narrator's hospital roommate watches food shows on TV all day -- it nicely captured that sort of half-conscious post-anesthesia state, where everything makes perfect sense and nothing makes sense at all. Her next poem was about cookbooks and the one after that was about milk toast, and I was starting to get really hungry because I hadn't eaten dinner! (There was pizza at the reception later on, thank goodness.) She moved on from the food poems to others, one of which was about "Pride and Prejudice: The Game" (so funny!) and another was a lovely elegy for Donald Justice, who was of course one of her teachers when she was at Iowa. (I want to get my hands on a copy of that one -- it really was lovely.) I thought her selection of work was particularly nice -- a good range of tone and theme -- though she does tend to read with a bit of "poetry voice." Still, an enjoyable reading.

Tony Ardizzone -- who, like Stanton, is a faculty member here at IU -- read a chapter from Whale Chaser, a novel he has "recently completed ... or may still be completing." I find I don't usually have as much to say about the fiction readings. I'm curious to read this when it comes out, as part of it is set in the Pacific Northwest where the main character is a whale-watch guide. The chapters alternate between that and the character's growing-up years in Chicago; what he read us was one of the Chicago chapters.

Tonight will be the last night of readings -- Yusef Komunyakaa and Chitra Divakaruni. I'm not familiar with Divakaruni's work, but I've heard good things. And Komunyakaa of course is a fabulous reader, with that voice of his.

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