Sunday, October 14, 2007

Day 10: Tucson

Breakfasted with poets Charles Alexander and Tyrone Williams, with whom I was reading that afternoon. Charles recommended we visit the Desert Museum, which is about 30 minutes outside of town on the other side of the Saguaro National Forest. On the way we saw a sign for the "Wildlife Museum" which we mistakenly thought was our destination. We realized our mistake as we entered about the fourth room filled with taxidermy. It's mostly a natural history museum, but it feels like a hunter's lodge. If this road trip taught us anything, its that guns, hunting and taxidermy are alive and well in America. In case you were worried.

After crossing the mountains through the Saguaro Forest (which is itself a gorgeous site to behold), we arrived at the Desert Museum. Most of our time was spent in the aviaries, especially the one for hummingbirds. We also saw an otter and several desert cats. They were beautiful to see, though seeing animals in cages does make me feel a little strange. We loved the gardens and the butterflies and the winding paths across the desert floor, and the heat was somewhat merciful.

Afternoon we drove back for the reading, part of the POG series, curated by a collective of poets in Tucson, including Charles and Tenney Nathanson. We had a packed house -- about 40 people -- which really spoke to the dynamism of the Tucson poetry community. Not everyone will go to a poetry reading at 3 p.m. on a Sunday, so I was really happy to see this.

I was happier still to get a chance to hear Tyrone Williams, a poet from Cincinnati of whom I had no previous knowledge. He has a book from Krupskaya, c.c., from which he read primarily. His sonnet sequence, "I Am Not Proud To Be Black," is pretty incredible.

After the reading we ate Indian food and got to meet Barbara Henning and Laynie Browne, two poets I heard read many moons ago when I lived in NYC, but had never had the chance to meet. Both are recent Tucson transplants, which bodes well for the poetry community there. Sadly, a plumbing emergency kept me from meeting Tenney Nathanson, who I've wanted to meet lo these many years since I applied (and then chose against going) to the U of A English Program for a PhD. O well... on to LA!

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