A lot going on locally this weekend. It is Little 500 weekend -- every college town has its major party-weekend event, and this is IU's. (If you've seen the movie "Breaking Away," you know something about it -- or at least about the race itself, which sometimes seems like just an excuse for a lot of partying.) So campus and downtown are relatively crazy. In one of those unholy juxtapositions that always seems to happen, last night a small plane carrying five IU students, all graduate students in the music school, crashed in dense fog near the airport killing all aboard. (One of them worked part-time as an announcer on the local NPR station, so I knew his name and his voice pretty well.) All of the students were highly talented, promising young musicians and composers pursuing advanced degrees at one of the best music schools in the country -- a music school that is a vibrant and relatively close-knit community. It's terribly sad.
Tonight there was a poetry reading at the local Barnes & Noble, celebrating Nat-Po-Month, and the "Celebrating Seventy" anthology that came out a couple years ago (and of which many copies are still sitting around waiting to be sold), and the ending of the daily poetry show Jenny Kander had on our community radio station, WFHB. There were 17 poets on the slate, and we each read our two poems from the anthology; the reading went a bit over an hour, which felt about right. It was a nice mix of voices, many of whom don't have any particular ambition towards being widely published or anything like that but are just regular people who read a poem now and then, write a poem now and then -- people who would probably define themselves as parents, teachers, whatever long before they'd define themselves as poets, and it felt really good to listen to those voices especially. There were plenty of good poems read, but what struck me almost more than the poems themselves was the sense, however momentary, of community & collegiality. A nice evening.
A week from tonight at the monthly Runcible Spoon reading series, my friend Shana Ritter (a fine poet who was in my first writers' group; I've known her since 1985 or '86) will be reading, as will my former teacher Roger Mitchell. (Hey! He has a blog -- I had no idea. Jeez, everybody's doing it, huh?) Should be a good one. I may pull something out for the open-mic part at the end, even though I just read at the Spoon last month, mainly because I would enjoy sharing a new poem (or maybe two short ones) with both Shana & Roger, both of whom have been important parts of my writing life.
To end on a happy note: got word yesterday that Boxcar Poetry Review will be taking two of my poems, "Sugar Hits the Highway" and "Deuce." I have been writing a series of poems about a character named Sugar, and these are the first from that series to be accepted. So, yay.