The Hermit Poet

December 15, 2008

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.

2 Responses to “Much Belated Report on the Fresno Reading (Nov 21)”

  1. Grabek Says:

    Marcus Chinn rocks!

  2. Mari L'Esperance Says:

    Hello, Neil – And what DOES come after the first book? I’m still waiting to find out for myself! I’ve enjoyed reading your blog. Thanks…

    All best with your own first book,


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