Montana bound

I’m looking forward to going to Missoula this week as part of the President’s Writers-in-Residence series at the University of Montana. I’ve heard such good things about the MFA there.

My associations with Montana are few. When I was about seven years old my family drove to Helena, Montana to visit my great aunt Hetty, widow of Dow Moxley. It was said that I resembled Hetty, which is strange now that I realize she wasn’t a blood relative. Did this journey to Helena predispose me toward Helena Bennett? My other association with Montana is that chilling scene in Twin Peaks when Leland suggests Mattie “go back to Missoula.” Did he punch a painting?

There are so many interesting poets teaching in Missoula: I know fellow Brown alum Prageeta Sharma, and Karen Volkman a bit, and I’ll be meeting Joanna Klink for the first time. And then there’s Professor Robert Baker, author of books on modernism and philosophy, and on Oppen and Char. His pedagogical influence is pervasive. Or at least that’s the way it seems. When poet Josh Corey came to the University of Maine, the subject of Prof. Baker arose. Josh had been as impressed with him as had a new colleague of mine, Sarah Harlan-Haughey. She’s a Medievalist who studied at Montana and Cornell before joining the faculty here in Maine a few years ago. It turns out she’d taken multiple courses with Baker, and gone to Cornell at his encouragement. Last spring I read at Case Western University. While there I met yet another person who had been transformed by Baker’s classroom, poet Sarah Gridley.

Could this be the same Bob Baker Steve and I met in the early 90s? [Read more…]

Like Musical Instruments

Cortez smallLike Musical Instruments, John Sarsgard’s book of photographic portraits of “83 Contemporary American Poets,” with poems edited by Larry Fagin, came into the house this week. I’m included. Flipping through, there’s a certain sadness. Several of these contemporaries have moved on, among them, Michael Gizzi, Anselm Hollo, and Jayne Cortez.

Cortez is one of my heroines of travel. She always came to Maine with just a tiny backpack, a package of instant oatmeal, and a generous spirit. She said that traveling in Africa had taught her to be contained and frugal. I fear it’s a lesson I’ll never learn.

Tender Buttons Press

Tender Buttons celebration recording

This coming Friday, October 17 at 7pm, the Poetry Project will host an event celebrating Tender Buttons Press marked with a 25th Anniversary Edition of Bernadette Mayer’s Sonnets and a new book by Katy Bohinc, titled Dear Alain. I couldn’t make it to Manhattan, but will be there in voice. Heurtebise helped me make a recording of some poems from Imagination Verses, which cellist Serena Jost will set to music. Here’s the recording, sans cellist.