I think I mentioned in my last entry that my poetry group has a reading this Friday night, and our featured poet is Kathleen Graber.
Ok, let’s just stop for a moment:
I first came to know of Kathy at Peter Murphy’s Poetry and Prose Winter Getaway, in 2007. (One of the great things about the Getaway is that it allows you to have some casual contact with writers and poets you might be too afraid to approach otherwise, like Kathy, Stephen Dunn, Kurt Brown or Doug Goetsch.) Each Getaway offers participants the chance to have one-on-one tutorials in poetry with certain members of the Getaway faculty – and I signed up for Kathy, as she looked hip and young and I felt I could somehow talk to her. Turns out I was right – she looked at my poems for a few minutes (and that’s all it took, really, for her to help me pinpoint exactly what I was doing wrong with this weird internal-organs-as-music-movements poem I was seriously overreaching on), and then we digressed into a fairly candid conversation about the PoBiz and how best to work in it without living in it. She was down-to-earth, seemed very no-bullshit, and I felt like in the short time I had with her, she really was listening – she wasn’t already thinking about the next thing she had to do.
I bought her book that weekend and devoured it in about 2 days. It was complex and beautiful, and I loved her long, complicated lines. It’s a smart book – not clever, but truly smart, requiring dedication and commitment. It’s well worth the effort.
This past year, at the Getaway, Kathy was there again. I found myself too shy to approach her and say hello, which sometimes happens when I really respect a writer – I’m generally afraid I’ll make an ass out of myself, or say something incredibly awkward. So I tend to just keep quiet.
I don’t know what got in to me, but I decided after coming home that I just really wanted Kathy to read for the QNDs. So after making some plans on this end I emailed her, and she was kind enough to say yes. We’re lucky to have her, as she’s just finishing a Hodder Fellowship at Princeton and will be heading abroad shortly as the Amy Lowell Traveling Scholar for 2008-2009. I’m totally stoked – she’s kind of a big deal, and I can’t wait for Friday.
Of course, I’ll probably say something awkward, and then there will be that weird silence. Sigh.
Some of her work online:
“The Magic Kingdom,” at the New Yorker
Book Nine, at The Georgia Review
“The Eternal City,” and Books One, Two, Three and Four, at American Poetry Review