Denise Duhamel, Barbara Hamby, David Kirby, and David Lehman are hilarious and beautiful. This happens to be my favorite combination for poetry and people, so last night's reading for the 2014 Moorman Symposium was like going to a town where "candy canes grow on trees," "the streets are paved in pastries," and "there are no clocks," somewhere a lot like Gnürsk (a city in Poland you can visit in David Kirby's poetry).
I want everyone to experience Gnürsk. It would be a shame for anyone to miss out. But if you haven't had the pleasure of hearing these poets read, there's another way to travel -- buy their books! Until your Amazon Prime box arrives, here are a few excerpts. (Posting just parts of these poems is a little like pouring the white dust that collects inside the candy cane's clear plastic wrapping into your hand, but even these bits are sweet!)
Denise Duhamel read "Victor," from her collection Blowout, a 2013 finalist for the National Book Critics Circle award.
and see what happens you almost drop the cardboard
and the mound of sawdust
that you wish didn't look so much like a mound
and you say are you crazy and the handyman sulks
well it was worth a try and you ask
why did you wait so long to ask me out
knowing he would have had a much better chance
when he first started the tile work
and you probably would have given anything
just to have someone hold you
Barbara Hamby read "Reading Can Kill You" from her 2014 book of new and selected poems On the Street of Divine Love. Below is a choice snippet, but read it in full at Poetry Daily.
and we sat in the dark next to the blazing enamel stove
and for breakfast drank tea from the samovar sweetened
with jam and talked about Gogol's sentences and Mandelstam's
despair, and then at night it would be love and vodka,
so when Satan showed up with his entourage, we were borne along
on his cloud of smoke, joining his diabolical magic show,
David Kirby, who you can hear at The Cortland Review's site, read the opening poem from his collection A Wilderness of Monkeys, "Do the Monkey, Yeah," and the audience's aardvark associations will be forever changed.
at least in the sense that I aardvark as well as
the next fellow--as long as the next fellow
is Don Giovanni or Casanova! Just kidding
In closing, David Lehman took us out and up into the stars by reading "Yours the Moon," from his New and Selected Poems.
endless, wears her
necklace of stars
over her dress
under my scarf
that she wears
against the cold
Books were brought and bought and signed. But I'd feel remiss if I didn't mention the animal kingdom. At the post-reading reception, we talked poetry and taxidermy. Turns out looks can kill, books can kill, but bullets are pretty brutal, too.