I went to several interesting sessions yesterday. The first was about the role of poet-critics; I especially enjoyed Linda Gregerson's eight requirements of the poet-critic (and wish I had taken notes!). Then I went to "Recreating Our Forebears: Queer History, Queer Poetry" a panel with Mark Doty, Robin Becker, Kay Murphy, Robert Jiron, Jeff Mann. Great panel: and the whole question of how to reclaim our gay literary "ancestors" when most of their life stories where hidden, encoded, or erased; when are we reading in too much, our own wish fulfillment. Then I went to a panel on "Trangressive Poetry and Post-Confessional Narrative." It started off with Brian Teare telling the story of being in a workshop as a graduate student, and having the word "cock" in his poem; and one of the other students saying she thought cock was too strong, and that he should take it out, and him saying "But I like cock; I want to keep it in . . . ." You had to be there, it was very funny. And then Olena K Davis, who instead of giving a talk, read a wonderful long "post-confessional narrative poem" that was really funny, and insightful, where the "I" of the poem keeps repeating how she "gives good head." OMG, I was in stitches. Then I went to a presentation on linebreaks, where the first speaker didn't really even talk about line breaks at all! But it sort of worked. Bruce Beasely gave a great talk: a few quotes and paraphrases: "Begin and cease, and the again begin" (Matthew Arnold). "What's most interesting about poetry is line breaks; poets do it all the time, but to explain it is elusive." "Lines lead to non-linearity." "A severing of language." Re: poems that are regular (such as syllabics) often have "lack of energy, lack of suspense; lack of disturbance; a squandering of possibility, of the unpredictable." And then he read an interesting short poem (or a quote from a poem) "Particle Accelerator" that he thinks has his shortest fastest line, not even a syllable: "phth." Very fun.
The reading at the library was very well-attended. Thanks again to Rachel Rose for making it all possible. Her new book is terrific: Notes on Arrival and Departure. I enjoyed meeting all the other readers, and chit-chatting with the audience afterwards: there were a lot of regular Vancouverite non-AWPers who came, yay! It was great to meet Canadian poet Lorna Crozier (who was wearing these really hot knee-high zip-up leather boots) and Annie Finch (of Wom-Po fame). Afterwards I joined Judith Barrington and Ruth and the wonderful Ursula Le Guin for dinner. Ursula will be giving one of the Keynote readings Saturday night, and she is witty and and bright and sharp as a pin.
Nice to run into some other bloggers: Charles, Woody, Jennifer, Dill of Vowel Movements, Jeannine, and others. Need to get some breakfast now. I think I'll swing by the bookfair again before my afternoon reading.