Review of last night’s public reading

Fellowship Hall at Warren Wilson College

A quick review of last night’s Warren Wilson College public reading at the Fellowship Hall behind the Chapel. I arrived early and chatted with a local poet who is enrolled in the MFA program. He let me read some of his poems as we discussed future Flood Fine Art Center poetry readings–more on that later.

I don’t remember the first reader. She is a novelist and, with all due respect, I couldn’t really get into her prose. It didn’t interest me in the least. I’m sure she is a good writer, but her story just didn’t engage me at all.

The highlight of the evening for me was Mark Jarman’s reading. He read from a forth coming book titled “Epistles” that evoked such lines as: “to some, bliss is when the body becomes words…” and “God has committed you to memory…” Jarman read each line as if delivering a homily; consistent, calculating the gravity of each word, line, poem. This is my first exposure to Mark Jarman so I don’t know if he always reads in that manner or not. But he reminded me of the way a clergyman reads a creed or prayer or scriptures. He doesn’t look up from his text until he is done. And in that case it is a quick glance to where his chair is located. I’m drawn to his new material and look forward to reading his book when it is made available.

I anticipated hearing Stephen Dobyns but there was a change in schedule. I notice Mr. Dobyns isn’t reading at all. I hope he is still doing his lecture on “The Nature of Metaphor.”

Anyway, it was a pleasure to listen to Percival Everett read from a new manuscript–a non sequential novel. Mr. Everett displays a keen wit with ideas and words and reads through his work rather quickly–almost in a manner that suggests he is reading it more for himself that the audience–that sometimes I felt like I missed essential parts of his story. So it was profound when he stumbled over a word, paused for an long silence, and announced “sorry, I just found a typo and I don’t have a pencil to correct it.” He laughed and continued reading at the same pace as before the discovery of a typo. I’ve only recently been introduced to his work and am interested in reading more of it.

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