Tuesday, February 23, 2016


Made sure to be at the opening session at the University of Louisville for the poetry reading by Rodrigo Toscano, who read from Explosion Rocks Springfield.

Also made sure to get to the creative session that included Ken Taylor, part of that extraordinary North Carolina poetry posse. I had not heard him read more than a poem or two before and was glad of this chance to get a better sense of his range. If you don't know his work yet, be sure to get a copy of his collection Dog with Elizabethan Collar from Selva Oscura.

Johana Drucker, who I first knew so many years ago as a poet, presented the first critical keynote this year.

Following a series of text messages, Lauri Ramey and Cecil Giscombe found their way to the reception at the art center.

With the What I Say anthology finally out, Lauri and I are organizing a series of panels and readings to spotlight the incredible art represented by this gathering. At Louisville, our round table included Tyrone Williams, Pia Deas, C.S. Giscombe and Nathaniel Mackey. SRO from start to last.

The second creative keynote was Matt Johnson. A few years back, when Matt was a keynoter at one of our Penn State conferences, he arranged for all of us to get advance proof copies of Pym, one of the most generous acts I've ever seen from a visiting novelist. At Louisville he read from his new book Loving Day, which is being developed as a possible TV series for Showtime.

Speaking of generosity, the good folks behind the journal Lute & Drum sponsored a poetry reading for the second year in a row. This year's reading was an evening with Nathaniel Mackey reading from new work.

As a child of the era, I knew exactly what these signs mean. I had to pause by this one and think about how far we had come, about backsliding, about elections and their consequences.

The food trucks were a Saturday hit. Most of my fellow academics went for the Korean tacos, but I headed straight for the barbecue van, attracted by the wonderful perfume. I came away with a pulled pork sandwich.

This year saw the return of the tradition of a group poetry reading at Alan Golding's house. Watch Penn Sound for that, and for other recordings from this year at Louisville.

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