Columbus, Muncie, Nashville, Atlanta, Tallahassee...so it's Day Six of the book tour. (Each morning I have to count.) Each morning we wake up in a hotel, remember where we are (FL), calculate the number of hours we have to drive (9+), and hunt up the nearest Starbucks (.5 miles). Where are the driving directions? GPS has become the most important item in our poetic toolbox—without it no poetry readings will happen.
When we're punchy with highway miles, phrases from billboards (or dangling Truck Nutz) send us all into riots of laughter: WOW WOW WOW CAR WASH. SPICY CRUNCHY JUICY GENIUS. HARDEN’S TAXIDERMY SNAKESKIN KOOZIE $65. What, we wonder, is a "primitive" baptist church vs. the usual kind? (Whatever their theological differences, physically primitives must be smaller; in sparsely populated areas there may be three or four within just a few miles. Congregations of 10, 20 maybe? Or maybe disguised meth labs?) In the afternoons, we check into new rooms, change our clothes, choose from among our poems, gather fresh copies of our books, and warm up our voices. Where are my shoes? No, my other shoes? That first night in Muncie's faded like a dream. We're tired but happy, always ready to do it again.
(I will speak of Nashville, actually. Because it was fun to hang out with Nancy McGuire Roche and to meet Andrea Hewitt-Gibson and Elvin [the filmmaker whose last name I neglected to get]. Checking into our hotel, we got caught up in the somewhat confusing wake of the Tennesee Titans’ departure from the same location. Beyond that, I will just wonder aloud the following two things: 1) Why are bookstores often the least comfortable venues in which to read literature aloud? And 2) Why didn’t I have the sense to cancel that event when the staff neglected to return my emails? Peter is at least as high a security risk as Meghan McCain (who appeared there the night before.))
On to Atlanta, where Sandra Simonds joined the tour. She, Peter, Jennifer & I read at Emory University for the What's New in Poetry Series hosted by Bruce Covey. (You guys know him; he's blogged here before, and is the editor of Coconut, as well as the author Glass Is Really a Liquid, very shortly forthcoming from No Tell Books.) The campus at Emory is leafy and lovely. We heartily consumed vegan eggplant curry and tofu lettuce bundles at Doc Chey’s with grad student Caroline Crews (a visiting scholar in Emory’s exchange program). In the audience at Few Hall we found a few dozen of Bruce's creative writing students, along with poets Heather Christle (a current fellow at Emory and author of The Difficult Farm from Octopus), Howard Miller, and Julie Bloemeke (see interview below for links). Sandra, Peter and Jennifer performed with their usual liveliness and connected successfully with the crowd, by all signs. (A room in which actual enjoyment of poetry is evident is one of my favorite places, I mean come on. It was awesome.) After the book sales and signing, we went back to the hotel bar (so we didn’t have to DUI—that’s how we roll) and talked for a few hours, and quizzed Julie about poetry, social media, and vultures:
Sandra Simonds & Julie Bloemeke, Atlanta 9/16/2010