Saturday, August 4, 2012

Aimless Reading: The S's, Part 43.1 (Edmund Spenser)

The Faerie Queene
Spenser, Edmund
The Faerie Queene

Purchased at the Niagara Falls Outlet Mall discount book store, for $5.50. I started to read this a few years ago, but put it down after the first book, despite the fact that I had been enjoying it. I remember in college deciding not to read Spenser when I read about genocidal proposals for colonizing the Irish.

Anyhow, long-time PBH reader Mongibeddu requested more diary-like entries after yesterday's post, so, since I had an interesting day yesterday, I thought I'd oblige.

Actually, the story begins the day before yesterday. In the afternoon, I was walking through the public part of the reading area at the Beinecke towards the bathroom. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man with a salt-and-pepper beard sitting in the reading room, who looked quite a bit like the poet-scholar Grant Matthew Jenkins.

I first met Grant at a reading I gave in Norman, OK in 2007. He teaches in Tulsa, which is pretty close to Norman. We've run into each other a few times since -- once in Buffalo, another time in Denver -- and we've kept up tangentially on Facebook and in emails. One of his former students wrote to me that he really liked my book, which was very moving for me.

So there I was, staring into the reading room at this man with a salt-and-pepper beard, thinking that it might be Grant Jenkins. I wasn't wearing my glasses and after a few moments I decided that it was not in fact him. Fast forward to yesterday, and there I was again, this time walking in the opposite direction, that is, from the bathroom towards my desk. I looked to my right and there he was again.

This time, I was pretty sure it was Grant Matthew Jenkins. I decided to verify this. Not, mind you, by approaching him directly, but by running back to my desk and looking to see if he had made mention of the Beinecke library on his Facebook page. Sure enough, there was a photo of him standing before one of the little blue signs that identify buildings at Yale.

I rushed toward the reading room and saw Grant walking off in the direction of the bathroom. I called out his name, he turned around, called mine back, asked what I was doing there. I told him I worked there now and asked him what he was doing there. He told me he was working on the Ron Padgett papers. I said cool. He said let's have lunch. I said how does noon sound? He said cool. We had lunch.

We went to Sushi on Chapel, where I had the Sashimi lunch box and he the Sushi combo for one. I drank green tea. He drank Sake. We talked about Ron Padgett. We talked about Ted Berrigan. We talked about innovative African American poets like Nate Mackey and Harryette Mullen and Tyrone Williams. We talked about Charles Alexander, Tucson, Tenney Nathanson, the POG series.

We talked about David Shapiro and Eileen Myles and Alice Notley and Joe Brainard. We talked about Berrigan's Sonnets. We talked about Berrigan's notebooks in Buffalo. We talked about the various generations of the New York School and how to identify them. We talked about literary hierarchies in New York.

We talked about writing poetry and the difficulty of bringing disparate poems together into a book that seems coherent. We split the check between cash and credit card. We walked through the Old College courtyard back to the Beinecke. I told a story about Paul Auster and Siri Hustvedt. We paused before the Sterling Memorial Library so Grant could take a photo of the two of us standing in from of the Sterling Memorial Library. I told him he should apply to be a fellow at the Beinecke so he could keep studying the Padgett materials. We said goodbye at the entrance to the reading room and promised to keep in touch.

I worked until the afternoon, during which time I also exchanged several emails with poet Susan Howe about effective treatments for benign positional vertigo, schools in Guilford, Ct., etc. I tried out two new desk chairs for my office, which is about to be redone. I walked home, changed, got in the car with Lori and Emily and drove out to Bethany, where we ate paella and got eaten by mosquitoes with our friends Eric and Lina and there friends, Francine and Dan.

from The Faerie Queene

Lo I the man, whose Muse whilome did maske,

As time her taught, in lowly Shepheards weeds,

Am now enforst a far unfitter taske,

For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine Oaten reeds,

And sing of Knights and Ladies gentle deeds;

Whose prayses having slept in silence long,

Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds

To blazon broade emongst her learned throng:

Fierce warres and faithfull loves shall moralize my song.

1 comment:

Grant said...

That pretty much sums it all up, my friend. Great conversation!