Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Aimless Reading: The K's, Part 28 (Joanne Kyger)

Kyger, Joanne
As Ever: Selected Poems

Purchased at the late lamented Niagara Falls Outlet Mall Discount Book Store.

I think the first time I heard of Joanne Kyger was when Chris Alexander and Linda Russo, still a couple and then just recently transplanted to Buffalo, adopted a pair of cats, one of which they named Kyger. I think Linda brought her to read in Buffalo at some point, but I am a little sketchy as to when that might have been or where she read or if I was even there. I have a vague recollection of seeing her read in the screening room at the Center for the Arts at the University.

In 2006, I invited Joanne, along with Tom Raworth and Amiri Baraka, to come read at the Buffalo celebration of Robert Creeley's 80th Birthday. The three of them camped out at a local bed and breakfast and for whatever reason most of my memories are of sitting with the three of them in the drawing room talking about poetry and so forth.

The event took place at The Church (now called "Babeville) and was one of the first public events in this new venue, which had been recently rehabbed by Ani DiFranco (She was actually at the event, sitting in the front row).

I remember I'd had this clever idea for introducing the three of them. Instead of writing intros, I planned to read blurbs about each one written by Creeley himself.

Just before the event Joanne starting getting a little nervous and agitated. I kept the three of them busy for a while signing posters. She started asking me about the introductions. I said I had a surprise. This seemed to agitate her even more. She said she didn't want a surprise and would I please tell her about the introductions.

I relented and told her about the blurbs and then she asked which Creeley blurb I intended to read. I said I wanted to leave one surprise.

She said, "Best of the west. It's "best of the west," right?

"Best of the west" was indeed a phrase in the blurb. I said yes.

Ok, that's a good one, she said.

from As Ever: Selected Poems

from Places to Go


Perhaps you can remember this if you think hard enough. It was a country where the summers were always warm clear into the late evening and at eleven or so a comforting breeze came up and into the windows and over the bedsheets. Sometimes there was rain and thunder and the sighing of tree branches when the rain got them.

Can you imagine?...

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