B-b-b-back in the UNCO, the post-tour bring down/debriefing

i am very very sleep deprived– just flew back from upstate NY. after 3 hrs sleep in a very dilapidated smelly Days Inn near Rochester. it was the kind of hotel room that exuded all the smells of everything else that everyone else had previously “exuded,” if you know what i mean. consequently, i woke up before the alarm. i swear it was the smells. then at ROC they said my flight was late, and i had to take a different airline later!

i am sitting right now in UNC (University of Northern Colorado, aka UNCO) here with my grad students in an optional creative writing final where they have to write a poem. it sounds weird, but about half the time i get the best thing they write all term this way. maybe it’s the pressure. maybe it’s the fact nobody else reads it. maybe it’s the autohypnotic suggestions i give them, telling them they can write the greatest thing they ever wrote if they just really push through to what they really know vs. what they think they know and what they are supposed to know. maybe it’s because i say you can’t fake anything in creative writing! maybe it’s the exercises that i hand out. maybe it’s the fact that half the time it raises their grade.

the best part of the little tour of upstate NY was seeing my friends there; the food was a big plus though ; ) patrick lawler at SUNY ESF took me to a middle eastern place that was just $%^#$^$% amazing. and dinner at patrick’s house with his wife janet was also wonderful.

the last reading itself went very well at the Syracuse Y, and i say the “itself” because the turnout was minuscule. on the other hand, the 4 teenagers in back (3 guys, 1 girl) actually tuned in, and 3 of them afterward wanted to talk to me and thank me for the show etc. one guy, jon, even bought a book and said he liked the poem “sex ed blues.” i count it as a “moral victory” when you can get a teenager to tune into your poetry and really want to hear more. another guy, collin, said he’d definitely be back when i read in feb. 2008. so they were a really great audience after all, and they seemed to be young poets & writers, i think. aside from the 4 teens, there was 1 guy who just moved into the Y and sort of stumbled into the reading by mistake, and my two friends there, patrick & linda. plus you could add the event organizer and her friend and the musician who HAD to be there, and then suddenly we’re into double digits. after it was over, the guy who came in by mistake also thanked me and shook my hand very sincerely for the identity papers reading.

as an aside, i have to say that patrick and linda had never heard me read before, and it was very important to me that they see and hear how the work would go over. so that also made it worth all the effort etc., and they were very moved & impressed. coming from them, that was a huge compliment because you know they have incredibly high standards.

the audience did laugh at the right spots, so i believe i must have been really on. for it is true that nothing is harder to perform than a joke. tragic lines, by contrast, are way too easy to deliver. you’d think they were a natural or something…

uhh, yeah.


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