Monday, April 21, 2008

Catching Up + Poem: Loren Goodman

I am trying to get back to posting, . The past two weeks have brought the usual saltmine's worth of work, projects, duties, and so forth, but things are going a lot more smoothly than last fall. First, the huge lecture class is turning out to be considerably more enjoyable than I imagined. The TAs are terrific, and the students are responding to the readings with what I register as real enthusiasm (and some bafflement, but we're talking about pre-Modernism and Modernism so far), they answer questions in class and sections, and pose good ones of their own. Some even chat after class about topics of interest or queries they have about my in-class lectures, so I know they're connecting with what's going on. And today, it appeared that nearly all of them submitted their first papers on time. So although the class is a lot of work and I am still waking up an hour before the alarm goes off, I am really enjoying it.

This morning I awoke with the pangs of what I recognized were kidney stones, which tormented me tremendously in the past, most recently in late 2001 and early 2002. In fact, I once rode back from Providence to New York City in extreme agony, barely able to sit down or stand, because I was passing a stone, which is one of the worst feelings I've ever experienced and, from what I can tell anecdotally, ranks high up there on the pain scale. This little bout seems to be under control, but I'm trying to manage it by following a specialist's recommendation from several years ago: drink lots of water, and especially lemon-water, and make sure I get enough calcium (ironically). I do wish I knew what caused them.

This weekend, however, was wonderful. C was in town, and on Friday we attended my cousin's wedding here in Chicago. She'd beautifully planned out every aspect of the ceremony, which was a joy to witness. Congratulations Raquel and Walter!

On Saturday, I attended the 17th Annual African American and Latino(a) Adult Education Research Symposium at Northeastern Illinois University, to participate on a panel organized by one of the graduate students I've worked with, author Wendy Musto. The panel also included playwright, author and activist Judy Veramendi. We discussed Wendy's short story "El Cruce" (The Crossing), which depicts the passage across the Rio Grande of an anxiety-ridden, undocumented Mexican migrant and his young family. At right is a photo from before the event that C took. Wendy's on the right.

I'd never met Judy before, though I'd heard of her work--she has a highly regarded play, The Empty Chalices, that was staged in Chicago and other cities several years ago--and it was a real pleasure to engage with the audience around Wendy's story and the larger issue of immigration.

I also replaced my old laptop, my iBookG4, because the screen was starting to fail. I didn't think I would get so attached to a piece of electronic hardware, but that little computer was a mainstay for several years. The new one, however, also a Mac, is quickly winning me over.

But on to poetry:

Loren GoodmanA poet whose first book I found incredibly charming was Loren Goodman. I can't recall how I came across it, but Famous Americans, one of the funner and more playful books of poetry you'll find out there, was selected by W.S. Merwin as the 2003 winner of the Yale Younger Poets' Prize. Some of Goodman's poems are like extended experiments, while others perhaps work best as conceptual projects, but throughout all there's a ludic quality that I think he captures in the following brief poems, "Ambition" and "Yeast." So take it away, Loren Goodman!


When music moves away
from dance, atrophy sets in

When poetry moves away
from music, atrophy sets in

I want one of those



I am Yeast, a great poet
I live in Ireland
Some say I am the greatest
Poet ever

My poetry makes bread grow
All over Ireland and the world
In glens and valleys, bread rising
In huts, clover paths, and fire wood

There will always be critics
Who deny Yeast
But you can see
The effect of my poetry
Through the potato fields
And the swell of the Liffey.
The amber coins and foaming black ale

Copyright © Loren Goodman, from Famous Americans, Yale, 2003. All rights reserved.

No comments:

Post a Comment