The Hermit Poet

December 18, 2008

Journey South, Through Rain

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 1:45 pm

Last night I decided to brave the rain and cold (or what approximates cold in southern California) and head down to the Ugly Mug reading in Orange.  The freeways were slow at first, the rain steady, though not heavy, and the drive eventually became more pleasant once the cars began to thin out.

I like driving in the rain.  I guess deep down, I’m still in love with weather, especially cool rainy days.  I’m from BC, born in Vancouver, and rain must run through my veins.  Even all those years in Saskatchewan can’t quite erase that, though thanks to the time spent there, now I’m equally fond of cold.

So nights like last night are perfect for me.  Makes me want to write, or perhaps to wander through streets, looking at the world somewhat washed clean.  Lines on buildings stand out better.  The normally distant and dusted colors of the trees and flowers burn brighter and more vibrantly.  The world has new sounds.  Like an ocean has emerged and waves grow closer and closer to the ear.  The cars.  The lights blurred and beckoning.  The city and the freeway alternate between darkness and light, and driving puts you a little on edge, makes you feel at risk — as it anything could and might happen, but doesn’t yet.  And then you arrive, open the door, and step out into what was pelting the windshield, the slow fall of rain.

I had fun at the non-reading reading (it was actually a year-end party) and got see some of my old poet friends from various parts of southern California.  Numbers were smaller due to the rain (not everyone loves rain like I do), but we did have a good time.  We caught up with each others stories.  And we settled into a lively game of Apples to Apples (which I highly recommend for poets and writers — word association gone awry).

We chatted until late, then I got back in my car and headed home, again through the dark.  But the rain was gone.  The roads slick and clean, almost devoid of cars at times.  The world a clear empty plain.  And home, home came soon enough.  The bed welcoming and wide.  Sleep deep and abundant.

December 15, 2008

Rain, Followed by Interviews and Musings about Better Hiring Questionaires for the New Adminstration

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 7:08 pm

Last night it rained in Los Angeles, which makes it seem – if only for a brief little while – a bit like Vancouver.

Well, the semester has ended and all the grading is done.  I finished up on last Monday, but some issues arose which required further attention throughout the week.  Now I can honestly say I’m done — and it’s good to be done.  No papers, no reports, no exams.

While today has been a bit less productive, overall I’m getting caught up on things I’ve had to set aside during the semester-end rush.

I’m doing more research into book promotion and related issues now that the book is out.  I’ll be posting more on that in the next little while.  I spent part of this past week finishing up an interview I’ve been doing with some creative writing students at the University of LaVerne — I just sent back my 2nd round answers and there’s a possibility that there will be a third round of questions.  At some point I’m wondering if this type of thorough vetting might land me a spot with the new administration under poet-friendly Barack Obama.

In fact, I wonder if the questionaires the Transition Team send out to prospective hires feature a question about favorite poem or poet and why?   I think it’d be a good yardstick.  That, and having them play mandatory games of Scrabble to gauge visual-spacial skills, resource management, and adaptability.  Personally, I think that one’s Scrabble playing ability says a lot and would be a good indicator.  But it’s not just about the score, it’s about the style of gameplay and their willingness to play with different types of people.  In the end, I guess score isn’t the best indicator, but quality of gameplay experience and mid-game banter instead.  Of course these are hard to gauge.  So it’s probably back to the drawing board.  Or Scrabble board.

Much Belated Report on the Fresno Reading (Nov 21)

Filed under: Uncategorized — admin @ 6:05 pm

Nov 21.  Philip Levine Prize Reading at CSU Fresno. I had a wonderful time, not just at the reading and afterward, but also on the drive to and back from Fresno.  Something about traveling on the road through farmland makes me miss Canada even more.  It’s not as flat as Saskatchewan, but it’s a good feeling to see sky and land, with few man-made structures in between.  Just before Fresno, fog emerges from the ground, fills the sides of the road and the country surrounding, and it’s a little bit like heading into Brigadoon.  No bridges that I recall, but I arrived in good time, rested a little, met up with fellow blogger and first book poet, Lee Herrick at a local Starbucks for a great chat about poetry, readings, and what happens after the first book.  After we signed each other’s books, we each headed off to our respective readings (he was meeting with a book club) and I was back to my hotel to await pick up for the dinner and the reading.

The before reading dinner was at a great restaurant which I’ve already forgotten the name of — but not the food (excellent pasta – the other small and large plate offerings also looked very good).  The reading itself was terrific — a very respectable sized audience (60-70 people I believe) — and the response generous from both the hosts (Chuck Hanzlicek and Connie Hales) and the crowd.  I read first for about 30 minutes, then Chuck (who was the judge of the contest) read next.  The poems were well-received and I was excited by the number of people in line for book signings after the event.  I was pleased to meet and hear from so many people who evidently enjoyed the poems and were excited to read more.  I think I signed around 20 books by the end of the night, plus a stack for the program at CSU Fresno.

One of the highlights of the night was discovering that the last person in line at the reading was Brian Turner (Here, Bullet) whose poems my students had just finished writing about and whose book I had greatly enjoyed.  We had a nice little conversation about poetry and projects, and he gave my some useful advice about allowing sufficient silence between poems when giving a reading.  I also met Marcus Chinn who had done a phone interview with me earlier that week, Glover Davis who now lives in the area,  and Mike Maniquiz, another poet who seems to share a lot of poet friends in common with me.  All told, it was a good night — lots of wonderful conversations and encounters.  I’ll definitely come back to Fresno sometime for another reading.

Driving back on Saturday, the fog filled the roads, the world was grey.  I felt I was leaving through clouds.  In time the sky and the earth returned, Los Angeles grew larger, and the freeways busier.  I took my exit, continued on my way through the streets, and arrived, tired but very happy to my apartment home.