Saturday, April 23, 2005

Open for business

Getting them was a comedy of annoying errors, but I now have in my possession the first order of the redesigned Piker Press business cards. Alex did a lovely job designing them, don't you think? I will be taking some to the Des Moines Poetry Festival today, in hopes of seducing some new voices to the Press.

Lovely new business cards Posted by Hello

I'm excited about the poetry festival. This year's featured poets include current and former Poets Laureate Ted Kooser and Billy Collins.

I haven't been to the festival for a couple of years, although in the past I have enjoyed hearing such poets as Donald Justice, Carolyn Kiser, Jorie Graham, Donald Hall, Mark Strand, Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky, and the peculiarly engaging Robert Bly.

Bly read some ghazals, I think it was, which have two-line stanzas, and he did something I have not seen any other poet do. He read each stanza twice. At first I thought he was deranged, but soon I figured out that the first reading let you understand the words, but the second reading let you hear the poetry. It was brilliant.

Another memorable festival moment came when C. K. Williams read these lines from his poem "The Dress":

in those long-ago days, women, my mother, my friends' mothers, our neighbors,
all the women I knew, wore, often much of the day, what were called "housedresses,"
cheap, printed, pulpy, seemingly purposefully shapeless light cotton shifts

that you wore over your nightgown, and, when you have to go to look for a child,
hang wash on the line, or run down to the grocery store on the corner, under a coat[...]

When he said the word "housedresses," I could feel dozens of people in the room gasp inaudibly along with me. In that instant, with one carefully chosen word, he made us all thirty years younger and transported us to other places, full of hair rollers, chicken and dumplings at Granny's house, and shirts baked stiff on the clothesline. "That," I thought, "is the power of poetry."

1 comment:

Wendy said...

oooh, ooooh, can I get some?!?!?!