Sunday, June 26, 2005

Mark Doty reading

Quick notes before I dive into the Pile Of Poems we're working on this week -- and also a lovely packet D.A. Powell gave us, which is mostly working drafts of his own poems (along with the final versions) -- handwritten and everything -- how cool is that?

I went out on a whale watch today but (for the first time in maybe a dozen times I've gone out from P-town) did not see even one whale! Still, it was a lovely day to be out on the water for a few hours, the naturalist was extremely adorable, and it was a pleasant afternoon. And they gave us passes for our next trip free, so if I can find time to go out again -- which I will, by hook or by crook (wait, what's Richard Nixon got to do with it?) -- I won't have to pay.

We had our orientation & a brief first class meeting tonight. There are only 6 in my class, so we should each get plenty of time to talk and stuff. Doug Powell seems very cool, chatty, laid-back; he said he's going to write each of us a "prescription" by the end of the week, giving us a list of poets he thinks we should read -- which is exactly what I always ask teachers for, so I will look forward to that. He also wants us to spend at least 2-3 hours every morning before class writing. Eek. :) Hopefully I can write on the beach, 'cause I haven't been to the beach yet. Tomorrow we will schedule our individual meetings with him -- we get an hour, which is way more than I've had at other conferences/workshops.

After our brief class meetings, Mark Doty gave a lovely reading. I enjoy his readings so much. He doesn't over-theatricalize the poems, but his presentation adds a lot, and I always notice lines and phrases (and even whole poems) that never stood out for me on the page. He said that there's a tradition at this particular podium (i.e. FAWC) of reading new work, especially for those who teach or read there year after year, just to prove to everyone you're actually doing something, but this year he decided to buck the trend & do a retrospective. Then he thought about how to narrow down the selection. First he thought he'd read Provincetown poems but he said that reading could go on till 2 am and that didn't help him any. He ended up reading, get this, nothing but poems set on Pearl Street, between the red barn down the road & the harbor. So every poem he read was set within 3 or 4 blocks of where we were sitting. (The Fine Arts Work Center is on Pearl St., as is Doty's house -- and so, incidentally, is the B&B where I'm staying.) It was a lot of fun, and afterwards I pestered him to sign my book (he commented on the fact that I had a bunch of pages marked -- "this is a brand new book and look at all those lovely markers already!"). I took pictures, but decided to be considerate & not use flash, and so they came out pretty blurry. I may post one later on anyway.

Olga Broumas (who's teaching this week) was in the front row & seemed to be especially enjoying the reading. Fun to watch poets watching/listening to a poet. (Robin Becker & Sonia Sanchez are the other poets teaching this week, although Sanchez was delayed by a late train in Boston and wasn't there this evening.) Doty's partner Paul Lisicky was there too, of course, looking pleased and proud. (Lisicky is quite a good writer in his own right -- fiction and memoir -- if you haven't read him, I recommend him. And they're a horrendously cute couple; not really knowing them at all, just seeing them together, they seem extremely well-matched.)

Off to dive into poems and maybe to write a bit.


Ivy said...

Great post, Anne. It's good to hear what you're up to. ;-)

Erin B. said...

Boy oh boy, Anne. You got Doty in person, as I got Doty over the (thankfully) clear radio signal of NPR in my car a few days back. He did a stint on The Connection, the focus being 'Howl' and its often jilting and grand effect on people. There's this book, called 'Howl: Fifty Years Later' due off the press soon, which seems delightful.

What a fine comment Doty made about your scribbles in the book. His voice was much lower and, forgive me, queerer than I'd expected, if you know what I mean. Still a lovely voice, and such marvelously insightful comments. I especially liked what he said about the poem's repeated failure, though not a cut, to end up on the optimistic side. It reaches so hard, then falls to the floor gasping, repeatedly. And still such a testament to the raw hope inside. That tiny and immediate spark that just won't die.

Anyway, kudos to P-Town and the swarm of good poets about you, to whale-watching--perhaps one of the most astonishing things one could do (if you see whales, of course), and to a little writing time of your own--a tickled and ablaze brain/heart connection ready to pop out some plain old good shit. Cheers.

Charles said...

Mark Doty is so dreamy. I just read School of the Arts and while I didn't enjoy it as a whole as much as his other works, there were some wonderful poems in it. Plus, he's just...*sigh* Yes.

And D. A. *sigh*

And Robin Becker is so cool. I've seen her at AWP the past two years and she's like this bad ass won't-take-shit type. I love that.

Patty said...

Sounds wonderful! And yes, please do share photos!

Carol Peters said...

Hello out there, my newest poet and blogger friend!

Anne said...

yes yes yes, y'all, I am quite a lucky girl this week! Of course I have a total poetry-crush on Mark Doty (sigh) -- and after one class I think I can safely say I have a lot to learn from Doug Powell -- will post much more about the workshop itself later but we have scads of (eek) homework and I must write before I sleep!

Charlie, I had not met Robin Becker before though I love love love her poetry (would have taken her workshop this week except it was tagged as a beginning workshop and when I called they said, yeah, someone who's been writing for thirty years probably doesn't get to take a beginner workshop, darn). I want to find a chance to chat with her this week and I'm looking forward to her reading very much -- she just looks like someone I would enjoy.

Carol, very cool to be in the workshop with you! I just KNEW I'd run into someone who'd stumbled across my blog at some point. Such a small world it is. :)

Harbor breezes and the sound of the foghorn, and now I must answer a few emails and then dive into writing...