Major and Me

Wasn’t sure what to expect from Major Jackson. In all these years, our paths have never crossed, even though we are Cave Canem fellows. And after the article in P&W magazine, I was a bit intimidated. Holding Company, his latest collection, is a definite contrast from his previous collections Leaving Saturn and Hoops. I enjoyed hearing him read poems from his new book; his 10-line structured poems are some of his most personal poems to date.

For me, it was interesting to hear an established poet get a feel for new poems vs. older work. When Major read, it was as if he was looking for the natural rhythm that comes so easily to his earlier work. It will come. Yet, there was a certain vulnerability in how he read those poems, something beyond rhythm. I could hear it in his voice. I think we forget sometimes how difficult it is to put ourselves out there in our work, and then reveal our most personal feelings in a public setting. He certainly seemed more comfortable reading from his previous two books, which he has practically memorized. But from my perspective, I enjoyed hearing the formal poems as much as his earlier ones.

After the reading, a few of us went to a restaurant around the corner, which is where the photo was taken. It was nice having a few minutes to chat about mutual friends, MFA programs, and upcoming readings. Admittedly, I was charmed. And, my uncertainty about what to expect from Major easily melted away. He was just as nice and generous as he could be.


Susan Rich said…
Hi Jan,
Major is a lovely man. We both went to Univ of Oregon - although not at the same time. He hosted me when I read at the Burlington Festival of the Book and I'm reading with him in April. I loved what you said about the vulnerability of reading new work. It is true, I hope, for all of us.
Collin Kelley said…
Great photo!
Kathleen said…
What a delightful find for me today at work (Babbitt's Books), your book! I so look forward to reading it!!
Mari said…
Hi January -- I recently studied with Major at the Napa Valley Writers' Conference and he was warm, charming, funny, and supportive. Glad you finally got to connect and hear him read from his latest book.
January said…
Thanks, everyone, for the kind words. It was a nice afternoon of poetry and conversation.

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