Blogging and entertaining visitors for me are mutually exclusive, but I don't mind when people come and hang out here in Valdosta to read poetry or go to the swamp and look for alligators, so if either one of you missed me, please know the cause was righteous and just. First Elena Karina Byrne* (link on the list), a long-time friend, came and read from her new book Masque and taught in my beginning creative writing and contemporary literature class. She stayed for several days and I cooked, which was fun, and the reading was terrific even though I had to throw a sorority out of the building. Standing up to well-dressed, privileged girls, threatening to call security (we were in the right, so I wasn't being a jackass here), was one of my prouder moments. My proudest moment, however, was pulling a sourdough loaf out of the oven that looked and tasted like real sourdough, with the wonderful chewiness and the lightly sour tang that the local strain gives the bread. The next night I turned the remaining dough into a lovely pizza crust, which set itself off perfectly against the fresh sauce and aged fontina, provolone, and parmigiano reggiano. Best pizza I ever made, and second best Elena had ever had (after Italy, she says). Her wonderful smile was worth it all.
My nephew, Erick, also visited, beginning early Sunday, so we cooked on Happy Wake Up Jesus Day a fine leg of lamb, which has since become curry. He came to classes, to the reading, and enjoyed the post-reading "party" with former student and friend Jessica, who showed up with a bottle of the Captain and somebody found a shot glass and, somehow, we ended up in the back yard at midnight doing hula hoops. Fortunately, I stayed away from the captain (as did Erick) and so can document the late night silliness, and can say with no small amount of pride that I can, in fact, still hula that hoop. We did make it out to Grand Bay and spotted a large alligator not too far from the viewing tower, so our swamp trip was also a success. Erick also managed to find time to skateboard and we had fun walking around Little 5 Points in Atlanta, eating at the Vortex, buying T-Shirts at La Petite Mort, before he hopped on the plane for Coos Bay.
Note: Elena and I will be reading together Sunday, April 27th, 10:00 AM at the LA Times Festival of Books Poetry Corner.