Yeah, the tour’s been over a week—but real life intervened and this is the first chance I’ve had to catch up. After several hectic days back at our jobs, it’s a bit of a letdown to look back on how much fun we had on the road. I mean, it’s been seven long days since we’ve spied any Truck Nutz or hit the Ruby Tuesday salad bar. I was glad to come home, but I also miss meeting new people every day, hearing poems every night, and laughing in the car with Jen, Pete, Bruce, and Sandra. Even asleep I’m still dreaming we’re in the car, following the Blue Dot of our GPS to the next gig.
Photo left: Sandra Simonds, Bruce Covey, Shanna Compton, Peter Davis, Scott Sweeney in Tallahassee, FL
Despite the time lag and what it’s probably done to the accuracy of my reportage, I don’t want to miss the opportunity to tell you about the last couple of events, (with a little help from Peter)...
[Continued from previous post.] After our Philly fun, Jen caught her return bus and Pete and I drove back to my house in NJ. The next morning I turned in the rental car, and really, I was a little sad to let it go, especially since on the way to return it I discovered it had a sunroof. (Thanks for the smooth 3200 miles, hybrid Camry!) My mood lifted though, when the rental agent said “So that’s ten days…but ehhh,” waving her hand, “let’s just charge you for a week.” Charmed, I tell ya, no tickets and upgrades everywhere.
With no real driving to do that afternoon, we relaxed for a few hours, catching up on some emails, doing some laundry, talking at length with our spouses, soaking up the at-home vibes after all the hotel flurries. Then it was time for our visit to The College of New Jersey.
We found the campus easily enough, were directed by friendly students to...
...parking and the student center, and found members of the student writing group setting up the room.
I think I read first, then Pete. That’s usually how we do it—his poems are funnier, especially in these books. We did a little Q&A and gave interviews to the school paper, The Signal. We covered many topics, like mustaches, babies, and teen feelings.
Afterward, as is customary for a "book tour," we sold and signed books, thanks to obliging students. (College kids bought more books than anyone on this tour—busting several myths about their general apathy, reading inclinations, and financial situations. By all outward signs, lots of people actually like poetry. Well, all right!) Then we walked the campus a bit, and asked Enrico Bruno, the student writing group’s president, to fill us in a bit more about what they’re up to at TCNJ:
Post-event interivew emailed and edited several days later, then edited and posted several more days later
Bloof: Enrico, tell us a little bit about ink at TCNJ. How did you get involved? What sort of activities does ink sponsor for the writing students? There's a literary magazine and weekly meetings?
Enrico Bruno: The creative writing community on TCNJ's campus is relatively small--there are only about six classes offered, two full-time faculty members, and no CWR major. A major goal of ink is to get these writers together to talk about creative writing both on campus, and off. Events like the Visiting Writers Series, the Master Workshop and the Masterclass allow us to invite a writer to campus to read or lead a class and thereby expose them to the creative writers on campus. Events like the Student Reading Series, The Goods (all-day arts festival) and coffeehouses allow our student writers to share work.
I got involved with ink as a freshman, after attending the Welcome Week Coffeehouse (held the very day that freshman moved into the dorms). I served as secretary my sophomore and junior years, and am now president.
We have our weekly meetings every Wednesday. We begin each meeting with a short writing activity, which students can share if they want to. We then "get down to business" and discuss upcoming events that will help spread the word about what we are doing as CWR students, and what outside writers deserve more student attention. Once a month, we have a workshop meeting, where volunteers share their work with the members before the meeting, who then come to the meeting with suggested edits and feedback. While we don't have a literary magazine, there is a different organization on campus, Lion's Eye, that is in charge of the publication. We don't actually work together, but we do encourage our writers to send work for publication!
Bloof: Do students focus on one genre, or are there requirements for multiple genres?
EB: During the minor, students take both Poetry Workshop and Fiction Workshop, so each student comes out of the minor having at least experienced writing in both genres. The capstone to the minor, Writer's Workshop, is your chance to work on a longer piece and you are allowed to choose the genre you work in. I believe the requirements vary by professor, but for fiction you will probably produce a 75-page novella and for poetry you will write a collection of about 40 poems. While the department is smaller than other campuses, I think we have a great program with a very talented staff, with Jess Row working with fiction and Catie Rosemurgy with poetry.
Bloof: You mentioned the night of our reading that some of the INK members used Peter Davis's Poetry! Poetry! Poetry! as a model for writing some addresses in thatmode. Are there any you'd like to share?
EB: Students usually keep their work (my hope is that the seed of an idea is planted in the writing activity, so they take home the work to continue working), but they can also give it to us so we can decorate our ink bulletin board with student work. We did get one 'address poem' that I can share here [uncredited]:
Poem Addressing Lady Gaga Fans*
Madonna did the female sexuality thing in the 80s. Bjork did the crazy
outfit thing in the 90s. Countless pop stars have done the generic
pop/dance thing for the past ten years.
And our secretary Samantha sent out the ink minutes this week with the title: "WEEKLY INK E-MAIL ADDRESSING THE LITERARY-INCLINED POPULATION"
Bloof: Where can people find out more about ink, TCNJ and see some of the students' writing?
EB: Anyone interested in ink can visit our INK website or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Bloof: Thanks so much, Enrico! And thanks again for having us out to read.
*After Peter Davis's "Poem Addressing Fans of Celine Dion."
The three final days were all about NYC: The Best American Poetry launch, Earshot, Boog Fest, and a three-way book party at NYU. But Pete’s already written a recap of those on his blog. So I’ll just point his direction as I wave goodbye (for now), with thanks to Stacey and David for inviting us to guest-blog about our trip here, and to everyone we met along the way.
See you next time, out there somewhere, we hope! I do have a non-poetry job, and it's time to get back to it, alas.