It was nice catching up with Neil Aitken, author of The Lost Country of Sight, Winner of the 2007 Philip Levine Prize. We had coffee last Friday before his reading at Fresno State, so we talked about first books, readings, and blurbs. It was also nice hearing about his work as a computer programmer, and the influence of Levine's The Simple Truth on his own poetry. I had to miss the reading because I was speaking at a book club that night, but I was able to get my signed copy of his book (with great blurbs from Li-Young Lee, Terrance Hayes, and C.G. Hanzlicek). You can read more about Neil's book here.
Speaking of the book club reading, it was a very rewarding evening (and it was at a beautiful home only a few blocks from my house). Apparently, this book club has been meeting for about thirty years, and they are a wonderful, cultured, very well-read bunch. They read everything from history, to fiction (Junot Diaz is their next book), to memoir, and my book was the second book of poems they've read---the other being one of Robert Frost's. It was a great surprise walking in and seeing novelist David Borofka and Debbie Borofka, as well. David's book, Hints of His Mortality, is one of the group's past selections, and David is a fantastic reader and a great spirit, so it was nice to see a familiar face. There were about twenty-five people, all of whom had read my book closely before the delicious potluck, so it was very nice to have such sincere and informed questions. Thank you, Larry, for having me.
Thank you, also, Sunny and Gail from the Kings County Library in Hanford, for having me as part of their lecture series. It was a thoroughly enjoyable evening, such warmth, and I hope to return in May for the Asian Pacific American events being planned. I stopped off after the reading and bought a half-gallon of chocolate chip ice cream from Superior Dairy, which makes the best ice cream in the world, according to two of my friends. I've already eaten half of it. I might have to drive back to Hanford, forty-five minutes south of Fresno, just to get more. It's that good.
I'm starting to realize it's almost the end of the semester, and I have a ton to do. I'm keeping up with my grading, writing letters of recommendation, trying to finish my sabbatical report for the Board of Trustees, and finishing the last touches on a composition textbook I am co-authoring (due next year from Prentice Hall). I am also very excited about a particular editing project---I was asked to Guest Edit a special issue for an online publication (they haven't announced anything that I know of so I won't name it here)---it will focus on the writing of contemporary Korean Adoptee poets and writers, and I'm telling you, it's going to be amazing. Contributors include Jane Jeong Trenka, Jennifer Kwon Dobbs, Sun Yung Shin, Beth Lo, Nicky Schildkraut, Emily Hurd, Leah Silveus, and Hyun Jin Ning, among others. It will feature a conversation between Trenka (author of The Language of Blood), Kwon Dobbs (author of Paper Pavilion) and Shin (author of Skirt Full of Black), in which they exchange ideas on the Western literary canon and its impact on their work, Korean/Korean American work such as Dictee, living and traveling in Korea, the space(s) where politics and language intersect, the term "Korean adoptee writer," advice for young writers, and perhaps stories from their readings. Keep an eye out here for more details on the issue or get in touch with me. It should be out sometime next spring.
Oh---and if you are in the East Bay on December 2---I will be reading at UC Berkeley (with Naomi Quinonez and Hugo Garcia Manriquez) to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the Ethnic Studies Library. Hope to see you there.
New Music Love: ONE DAY AS A LION