Thursday, November 16, 2006

The days are just packed

It's been an eventful week in the Land o'Anne.

Last night my poetry group met -- well, the three of us who were able to make it, anyhow. We chatted and ate for a while, then critiqued some poems. While talking about mine, Tonia and Deborah got into this big discussion about whether it is necessary to actively, purposefully engage with the world in order to be bound to it, or whether just being alive and breathing is enough. Isn't that one of the big things theologists argue about -- whether you have to earn grace or redemption or whatever, or whether you just get it thanks to being human? Anyway, I was musing about this sort of thing myself not so long ago, about whether one has to accomplish something lasting in order for one's life to really matter, so I was kind of tickled that my poem took them in that direction.

(On the preview for tonight's late news, they just said the words "flurries" and "tonight" in the same sentence. Excuse me while I cringe a bit.)

Today I left work a little early and went to the arts center downtown for a workshop about applying for Individual Artist Grants from the Indiana Arts Commission. I went to this workshop last year, but never got the application in because the due date was Feb. 1 and I had the Martian Death Flu most of January, and had absolutely no energy after working all day and stuff. They've changed the program this year: instead of giving out about 80 $1000 grants, they will be giving out about 40 $2000 grants. (Unless they can weasel some additional funding out of the state legislature, which would thrill me, but I'm not holding my breath.) I am determined to get an application in this year. I have some ideas for a project. (And a shout out to Lee, who was also there, and who I know is reading this!)

A bit later in the evening I found myself back at the arts center again for a reading by Major Jackson. The room was full of MFA students and similar sorts, and absolutely nobody I knew. For a number of years I felt really intimidated by that kind of atmosphere, like I wasn't legitimate somehow, wasn't supposed to be there. I missed a lot of good readings because I just didn't want to deal with it. It's partly because I'm older and surer of myself, and partly because I'm writing more and better now than I was then, that I don't feel that way anymore. I figure I am at least as committed to poetry as anyone else in the room, which gives me a right to be there. Or something like that anyway.

Anyway, Jackson's reading was good. He talks a lot between poems, which I enjoy when the person is engaging and funny, as he is. I wasn't terribly familiar with his work, but I liked a lot of what I heard and I'll probably get his books out of the library. I'd thought about hanging around afterwards and maybe asking him a few questions about Bennington, since he teaches there, but he was being swarmed by bright-eyed MFA students and I decided to leave. Good reading, though. I'm glad I went.

(He mentioned Cave Canem's 10th anniversary. The more I find out about that organization, the cooler I think it is -- and it has supported & encouraged a number of poets I'm very glad to have had the opportunity to read. Even though I'm obviously never going to benefit directly from it, I'm awfully grateful for the work these folks do & the community they've created. I wonder what we queer poets can learn from them about community-building?)

Tomorrow I'm going to an all-day conference thingie in Columbus, Indiana for work -- about an hour away. It should be pretty interesting, and it will be nice to be out of the library for a day.

Then Saturday I'm going to a birthday party for a friend's two-year-old twins (the next time you think you're losing your mind, contemplate that concept for a moment -- two-year-old twins -- and maybe you'll feel saner by comparison!), then meeting up with a poet friend to give her some quotes for an article she's writing about the Bloomington poetry scene.

Yep, it's a busy week around here. And now if you'll excuse me, I have a rather large cat explaining that his tummy needs to be rubbed RIGHT NOW.


LitByFire said...

I do love the way these rather large cats "explain" their needs in such unmistakable terms!

Amanda Auchter said...

I go to Bennington & am NOT a bright-eyed MFA type, though I do play one on television. Ask away. MJ is amazing, I agree.

jenni said...

I don't know that I believe in redemption, like in the BIG God way, I think that's interesting though. I mean what about babies who die? Was their life meaningless just because they didn't live to be ten, thirty, fifty? My opinion -- you get it for just being human, or even for being a tree or rock. I suppose I just look at humans as another animal, no better or worse.

Reading sounds cool. Have fun at the conf.

Lyle Daggett said...

Whenever I'm at one of those readings that are crowded with MFA students, I feel a little like I'm some feral creature that accidentally got in through the door. I've never read Major Jackson, sounds like it was a good reading.