Thursday, March 29, 2012

I'm writing this in my room in the Rose Gate Inn in Findlay, Ohio.   I'm visiting a class and reading later today at Findlay University, where my host is Dave Essinger, a Miami grad and a former student of mine.

Life and book tour have been a mad whirl the past ten days.  Since returning from the Pacific Northwest and Salt Lake City on March 18th, I visited Western Kentucky University in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  It's a lovely campus, and my hosts, the inimitable Molly McCaffrey and Dave Bell, made me feel incredibly welcome.   Members of the English Majors Club (I think that's the official name) gave me two buttons, which I've worn pretty much non-stop since my visit:   I think; therefore, I punctuate.  and Be nice nto me or I'll put you in my NOVEL.   

Seanna Wilhelm wrote about my visit on the English Major's Blog.   Here's what she had to say.

Eric Goodman Reading

Wednesday night, Eric Goodman visited Cherry Hall and read from his book Twelfth & Race. I’m going to give you a brief photo-based recap like I did for our last reading.

First of all (thanks to daylight savings time) it was actually light out when I arrived at Cherry Hall, so I did a better job of capturing Dr. Cherry on camera. What do you think?
The reading was in CH 125 again, and as last time, I sat with Brittany Cheak and Andrew Bergman.  This time, we didn’t have any technological issues–that I know of.
Professor Goodman teaches English at Miami University and is the director of their creative writing program. The novel that he shared with us is his fifth. Visit his website to learn more about his works and the man himself.
He shared two different sections from Twelfth and Race with us and ended with an informative question and answer session.
Fun fact: Did you know that Dr. Goodman is a rock lyricist?
Now, onto the photo montage.
Dr. David Bell introduced us to Professor Eric Goodman after Dr. Dale Rigby reminded us of the Goldenrod, Gender and Women’s Studies Writing Contest, and EMW Writing Contest’s due dates.
Here is Professor Goodman himself, sporting his Twelfth and Race T-shirt and tow of our English Department buttons. As he read from his novel, he made the characters come to life and his audience regret that they couldn’t hear more about them.

I bought the book that he was reading from and can’t wait to see what happens.
He was kind enough to sign said book for me.
I also bought one of his T-shirts; aren’t I good at self-portraits?
It was a wonderful evening.

Returning from Bowling Green, I detoured through Lexington, Ky, to have lunch with Ed McClanahan, fellow Stanford Writing Workshop alum (I didn't know him) and Merry Prankster.   It was great to see Ed, who was in fine form.

I returned to Oxford for the weekend, in time for this review in the Philadelphia Inquirer to appear on Sunday, March 25th.

Sunday afternoon, I shifted gears and roles from the hosted writer to a visiting writer's host, and picked up South African Poet Laureate Keorapetse Kgositsile at the Dayton Airport.   Keorapetse, who is in the middle of a 7 week tour of the United States, in part to help commemorate the African National Congress's Centenary Year (I learned the ANC was founded on January 8, 1912, making it the oldest liberation movement on the African continent) was a man of enormous wit, intelligence and generosity.   He was forced to go into exile in 1961.  He knew and knows pretty much every important African writer.   He was reported killed five different times during the struggle to end apartheid.   He was at once inspiring and completely down to earth.  He's been hip-hopping around the U.S., and when I realized how much traveling he is doing and how relatively small his suitcase was, I asked him--having done a great deal of extended travel myself in Southeast Asia--"Would you like to do some laundry?"

Of course, the answer was yes, so on Monday we did two loads of wash at my place--lights and dark--as well as finding time for a quick trip to Mejier's so he could buy some more clothing.   His wife told him, when he was leaving South Africa for the trip that he hadn't packed enough, and he now admitted it was true.  So there we were, in the hours before Keorapetse's appearance at cris cheek's grad poetry workshop, and the dinner and reading that followed, pawing through the sock section at Mejier's in Hamilton, Ohio.   The highs and lows of the literary life.

Leonard Theatre was packed for Keorapetse's reading, and it was a delight to see the crowd and to hear him read his poetry, which was a mix of politics, elegy, and musicality.  Small in physical stature, Keorapetse was an enormous presence, a poet who has lived his life with fervor and gravitas.  He was truly impressive.


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