Friday, May 9, 2008

Road Trip Day 3: Book Festival and Party

After ten years or so, co-emceeing the poetry corner at the LA Times Festival of Books is fairly routine. Wake up, show up, set up, keep track of who's next and track them down if necessary. Buy books at Small World Book's tent. Sometimes the work keeps you from listening to the poetry, but given that it lasts all day, the words and poets can run together without time away from the tent, so I try to listen to a few carefully before I run off to check for the next poet, break in the green room, etc. The line up on April 26th was strong, so catching as much as I could became a challenge. Mark Doty, always a strong reader, began the day and he brought us a terrific early crowd that seemed to sustain itself throughout the day. Here's the whole list:

Mark Doty
Fire to Fire

Sholeh Wolpe
Rooftops of Tehran

Eloise Klein Healy & Elizabeth Bradfield
The Islands Project: Poems for Sappho & Interpretive Work: Poems

Albert Goldbarth
The Kitchen Sink: New and Selected Poems, 1972-2007

Brian Tracy
Driving with Dante

David St. John
The Face: A Novella in Verse

Jean Valentine
Little Boat

Marvin Bell
Mars Being Red

Christopher Buckley
Flying Backbone: The Georgia O'Keeffe Poems

Sarah Maclay and Charles Hood
The White Bride and Rio de Dios

Susan McCabe
Descartes’ Nightmare

Lynne Thompson
Beg No Pardon

Jennifer Kwan Dobbs
Paper Pavilion

Tony Barnstone
The Golem of Los Angeles

Catherine Daly and Stuart Dischell
Locket and Backwards Days

Mark, David St. John, Marvin Bell, Chris Buckley, Shole Wolpe, Jean Valentine (quietly), Stuart, and Eloise were all high points on an unusually strong list. My favorite moment, though, was when Albert Goldbarth read among the most masterful complaints in the history of letters, I believe, in his diatribe against the obligatory post-reading Thai restaurant meal. I was laughing, crying, and starving for a chili-cheese burger with a side of onion rings all at the same time. Tony Barnstone's work surprised me most, and he'll be in my classes next year, for sure.

Later, Sholeh and Tony hosted a party in Barry and Sholeh's loft downtown. The place was lovely, the conversation excellent and spiced with laughter, and the Persian cuisine was wonderful. Writers from both days attended, and Tony even brought along a little Hollywood, as Kimberly Oja (an OC regular) showed up. I told Elena that I felt a little out of place, outclassed, Fresno boy that I continue to be, but truly the gathering was warm and I was happy to cab Stuart and Jill Bialosky back to their hotel around midnight, and then the 405 back to the Hacienda.

No comments: