See what happens when you serve a horny, bored poet a plate full of summer gourds at your poetry conference? She plays with her food.
Hullo, peeps. This is your roving, raving European correspondant, your coeur déspondant, your very own pain in the arse Jill Alexander Essbaum, with an overdue update. I've been lax in posting. And by lax I don't mean an airport in southern California. (Nor do I mean lax as in -ative, because that would be déclassé.) The sore fact is that once you remove the spangles of travelling about from my sash, I fear I'm just an ordinary ole gal with not too much terribly interesting to report on. But then again-- ain't that the point of blogs?
I'm back in Switzerland until further notice. Switzerland is one of the hosts of this nonsense (I beg one thousand pardons, if you are a soccer fan, for referring to it as nonsense). Downtown Zurich is crammed to capacity with kiosks, food stands, hat vendors, face painters, booze sellers, widescreen televisions, and foreigners. Train schedules have been altered, added upon, increased. Much whooping can be heard in the Hauptbanhof after hours. Switzerland, as I understand it, is out of the tournament already. Anyone want to clue me in on who I should root for?
While in the US, I participated in two literary festivals. The first ever Pilcrow Lit Fest, as headed by the stunning Amy Guth, and The West Chester Poetry Conference, as headed by the formidable Mike Peich. Highlights of that shindig included a phenomenal reading by Richard Wilbur (did you know he used to be a hobo? I think more poets ought to hobo. Especially if it leads to the gorgeous output of verse suchlike Mr. Wilbur's), loads--scads, even-- of social hours intended to create camaraderie and build poetic bridges, ostensibly (and possibly, to get us good and sloshed before the readings), and workshops and seminars for all interested. I was a member of the Millay critical seminar (headed by Jennifer Reeser). Millay is one of my favorite poets. She is utterly underestimated by the critics, still. And we tend to read the wrong Millay, imho. Yes, "First Fig" and "Renascence" are both impressive. But fuck me running and call me a cab: If you ain't read Fatal Interview, then you ain't read the best of Millay. (...)
I also got to pal around with some of my favorite LIVING poets: this man, this man, and this woman, to narrow it down to three, which I do simply because I must narrow it down. Buy their books, y'all. Getting back in touch with Jill Rosser was a highlight of the conference for me because she was my VERY FIRST poetry teacher when I was in college. That was umpteen years ago, so she of course did not remember me from Eve. No matter.
West Chester is also the place to meet the best poets you have likely never heard of. Meaning, poets that don't have books out. Yet. I was treated to the likes of Emily Raabe, Jehanne Dubrow (her first collection is forthcoming), Amy Lemmon (though her book is on its way out as well, and a chapbook is already available), Keith O'Shaughnessy (aka Kevlar), and the poetess with the mostest: Jessica Piazza herself.
This is a photo of me and Jessica in the bathroom at WCU. Classy, no?
Besides Chicago and West Chester, I spent a wee bit of time in Phillie and Brooklyn and Manhattan.
In a bar in Phillie. The only sort of drunken driving I would ever do is in a toy car in a bar.
In Brooklyn with the dazzling Reb Livingston.
In Manhattan with Meghan Punschke.
(Experimenting again with the sepia settings on the camera...)
Oh wait... who are THESE folks????
Why, it's the founding parents of THIS BLOG, David and Stacey, with whom, along with Meghan, I enjoyed a terrific evening of pizza and David's famous martinis! I love this photo, they are too friggin' cute for words.
Enough with all that cuteness!
And so, this post ends-- none too quickly enough, you may well be thinking-- with the promise of more and more exciting news from the land of the Helvetic Tribes very soon. Upcoming topics may or may not include the following: nudity in German teen magazines, my obsession with old time radio, riding Swiss trains through tunnels (clearly not a metaphor for anything), and a phenomena that has been riddling me lately-- random sexual propositions from strange men. All this and more! (Though, what else could there be?)