Friday, September 18, 2009

Poetry on a Friday Afternoon

What better to end a week of bookish goodness than hearing an author speak? Today I was lucky enough to hear poet and novelist Steven Heighton read at my library. He was a great presenter; cool and energetic and clever/experienced enough to know that reading straight for 30 minutes is NOT INTERESTING when the audience is sitting on uncomfortable stacking chairs. He read in two "sets" with time for questions and discussion (and stretching) in between. And it was great. He read some of his older, published poetry as well as some works in progress (fascinating), and read excerpts from his two novels, Shadow Boxer and Afterlands. I read Afterlands quite some time ago, and really enjoyed it. (But to get a very enthusiastic opinion from somebody who's just read both novels, pop over to Bookpuddle to read Cipriano's take on them!)

Hearing an author speak about their writing life always inspires me to remember to really see things, to ensure that I make a place for creativity in my life. It was a wonderful talk, and gave me lots to think about on my walk home through the beautiful fall weather.

I bought one book, his collection entitled The Address Book, from which he'd read a touching poem about his daughter. How can you not love poetry that includes lines like:

Who is it loves you, his heart now a lantern

in the dark wood of halfway through? The one
you made solid when he felt himself shade,
who made his way back from the border, made good.
(from The Wood of Halfway Through)

or, from another short poem entitled "Desert Psalm":

As thermals at sunrise draw swallows in geysers out of the dead
mouths of abandoned mines, as if birds were the desert's
address to the sky and earth's inner anthem embodied
Let these words lift that same way

It was a great afternoon, and I highly recommend picking up some of Heighton's work. And remember to support the efforts of your own local libraries and arts organizations when you can, and make it out to one of the readings they work so hard to put on!


  1. Hearing an author speak is heaven. I'm always so inspired when I attend a reading that I rush home and write and write and write. Glad to hear you got to hear such a good one! :)

  2. I'm glad to hear you enjoyed it and hope your post will inspire others to check out literary events in their local area.

    As the person who organizes such events at my library, I'm always surprised that more people don't show up. And it's not just me; librarian (and bookstore) horror stories abound where an author shows up and the only people in the audience are the staff.

  3. Rosemary - it was really great!

    Lesley - tell me about husband used to organize readings for a 4 library consortium, and the worst one ever was when there were 4 staff and one random patron who just came along for the free wine and's part of our family mythology now ;)


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