Hello from Dodge! This is a picture of me at the Borders Book Tent after last night's marathon reading. What a fantastic night of poetry. Hope you were able to see it streamed live on NJN.
And here's a picture from NJPAC of Tyehimba Jess on stage. Twenty-four poets read in the opening Poetry Sampler. I was in the balcony with a great view of the entire venue.
Here are some highlights and general comments about last night's event. I'm writing these updates as bullet points. Forgive any typos. The sun's coming up--have to get moving to keep up with today's busy schedule.
- Newark Mayor Cory Booker opened the event with such pride for this city. Bravo to him and the Dodge festival organizers for making it happen.
- Thank you, Mayor Booker, for not breaking out into verse. I did hear a lyric trying to break out--we know you have it in you. Thank you for saying "There is poetry in every person."
- The poets read for about 8-10 minutes, and appeared genuinely happy to be here.
- Yesterday was Amiri Baraka's 76th birthday! It was only fitting that he was the lead-off poet. Was nice to see him back in Dodge after a long absence.
- Not one to miss an opportunity, when Baraka finished his reading he called to the front row and said: "Open the schools, Mayor Booker. Open the libraries."
- Loved hearing a new poem by Tara Betts inspired by Lucille Clifton. Ms. Lucille's presence is all over Dodge.
- Was nice hearing Jericho Brown read "Summertime" from his book Please. He's just fierce.
- Discovered Michael Cirelli last night. Must hear more of his work.
- Note to self: Must look up Billy Collins' poem "What She Said."
- Kwame Dawes read his poem "Wysteria," and sang a beautiful poem called "Stillborn." So moving.
- Rita Dove. Rita Dove. Rita Dove. She can't do any wrong in my book. I get tingles just thinking about her read.
- Martin Espada poetry is a base drum.
- Tyehima on stage ... yes!
- I bought Dorianne Laux's book Facts About the Moon based on the two poems she read last night.
- Bob Hicok--much funnier in person than on the page. I'm a huge fan of his work.
- Galway Kinnell--sexiest voice ever! Really. I may be biased because I studied with him, but his voice is very guttural, lots of hard, curt sounds in his poetry. Love it. Love him.
- Yay Aimee Nez!
- Sharon Olds. Sharon Olds. Sharon Olds.
- Claudia Ranking moved us all reading what she called "fragments."
Everyone did a terrific job. Yes, Dodge is here. If you're on the fence about coming, this is the year!
Dodge is a gift. I am home.