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.