Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Mostly I just like the way the word sinusitis sounds . . . particularly if you say it over and over again several times to yourself, so as to create a whispery, rustly susurration of sound. Sinusitis, sinusitis, sinusitis . . .

Admittedly, though, my upper nasal cavities have felt as if they're being none-too-gently stripped with pipe cleaners this past week, therefore necessitating the aforementioned meditations on the word sinusitis.

I'm back from my recent travels. Both trips were wonderful . . . I met so many terrific people! A brief recap of my travels is as follows:


I flew into St. Louis for my reading at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale, where I was picked up at the airport by
Allison Joseph and her husband, Jon Tribble. Allison and Jon both teach at SIU-Carbondale, where they also edit the literary journal, Crab Orchard Review. Both are poets (Allison is a year younger than me and has five books of poetry out because she's that fabulous!). Jon is the editor of my new book, Year of the Snake. In fact, he singlehandedly edits the entirety of the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry. Here are Allison and Jon at the marvelous, marvelous Italian restaurant they took me to in St. Louis.

On the next day I received an official tour of the Mothership (i.e., SIU Press), and was able to meet in person a number of the very fine people who did such a lovely job on my book. Here I am, standing outside the Mothership with Jonathan Haupt, Karl Kageff, and Kathy Kageff.

At lunch I met the famous (dare I say infamous?) poet Rodney Jones for the first time . . . he is absolutely delightful! And over the lunch hour I had the opportunity to hear two SIUC M.F.A. students read from their work . . . they were both quite impressive. During the afternoon, I met with Judy Jordan's creative writing class. Judy is a phenomenal poet . . . I first met her and read with her at a conference in Laramie, Wyoming, several summers back, where I purchased her first book, Carolina Ghost Woods, which totally knocked my socks off! (Plus, she has a multiplicity of pug dogs . . . with a Head Pug in Charge named Beauregard. One can't help but really, really like a woman with a multiplicity of pugs, don't you think?)

Following a sushi feast for dinner in Cape Girardeau (I was in sushi heaven!!), I gave my reading to a very kind and lovely audience. Post-reading libations ensued (woo hoo!), and I flew back home the next day.


My travels to Fredonia, New York, were such that it was a six-state travel day. I started off in Vermillion, South Dakota, after which I drove to Eppley Airfield (nestled along the banks of the Missouri River) in Omaha, Nebraska, with a stop on the way to refuel in Onawa, Iowa. I flew from Omaha, Nebraska to Detroit, Michigan, and after a brief layover, flew from Detroit to Erie, Pennsylvania, where I was picked up by poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil (author of the lovely book, Miracle Fruit), who drove me the rest of the way in to Fredonia, New York. I had the distinct honor of meeting Aimee's dachsund, Villanelle, who has a very sweet face and is an all around Very Good Egg.

The next evening I gave my poetry reading to another very kind and generous audience. My youngest audience member to date was in attendance, a beautiful half-Japanese baby named Chika, who was so adorable that I pretty much wanted to nibble on her cheeks.

The following day I met with two of Aimee's creative writing classes, and gave a noontime reading to a combined group of World Poetry classes. I really enjoyed meeting the students . . . they were terrific, and had interesting questions and comments about my poems.

The day was capped off with a dinner at a quirky Greek restaurant alongside picturesque Lake Erie (Doh! I forgot to take a picture of the lake!) with two of Aimee's friends and colleagues -- poet James Stevens and sinologist Maurizio Marinelli, both of whom were an absolute pleasure to spend time with! (I'm not sure what's up with the compulsive linking . . . I started it, and then just couldn't seem to stop.)

The next day I repeated the six-state-hop back home. It was wonderful to get to know Aimee and hang out with her . . . among other things, I discovered that having attended grad school in Columbus, Ohio, she has actually seen the albino squirrel referenced in my poem, Albino Squirrel. Everyone always thinks that I made up the albino squirrel, but no . . . the albino squirrel is real, and I finally have someone to corroborate this! This makes Aimee fabulous beyond all comprehension!

So . . . my travels. In a nutshell. I have a little bit under a week before I'm on the road again, and in the meantime, despite the sinusitis, it's nice to be home where I can visit with my Special Dog Friends, and hang out with my cats -- particularly so that I can watch my rapidly-growing kitten, Genji (a.k.a. the Bean Bean) run through his repertoire of sauve and quizzical poses for me.
Posted by Artichoke Heart | 9:00 PM |
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Books by Artichoke Heart
Beyond Heart Mountain
Year of the Snake

Poems by Artichoke Heart
Songs for a Rainy Season
Toothpick Warriors
Snake Wife
Happy Hour
Girl With A Bowl On Her Head

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