Thursday, October 11, 2007

Reading Report-University of Rhode Island

Well, we had a blast. Everyone came out. Michael was just a wonderful person to read with. We are all very excited for his new book. Peter Covino, you are a generous and brilliant host. Two of Peter's students introduced us with introductions that were far too kind and incredibly well written. We talked so much about poetry. I'm dizzy with poetry. Wonderfully dizzy with words.

Thank you, beso, beso.

Here's a blurry photo. Lord I love the blur.

And then a bright bold student wrote an article about us and here it is!

Visiting poets share stories of friendships, romance, hip-hop

Lisa McGunigal

10/11/07 - Poets Ada Limon and Michael Cirelli read selections of their poetry last night at the second installment of the URI English department's Read/Write program in Independence Hall. Limon explored memories of her brother and friends through her poems while Cirelli's poetry focused on hip-hop culture and romance.

Limon's first poetry book, "Lucky Wreck," won the 2005 Autumn House Poetry Prize. Her second poetry book, "This Big Fake World," won the 2005 Pearl Poetry Prize.

In Limon's poem, "A little distantly, as one should," she recalls her childhood visits to Lake Tahoe, where her friend, Jake, died in a car accident.

"You really can't stop going places because you're frightened," Limon read.

"This Big Fake World" centers around four main characters: the hero, the hero's wife, the woman who works at the hardware store, and Lewis. Limon read the prologue poem to the book during the program.

"Let the man in the gray suit be our hero for once," she read.

In the book, Lewis writes poetry to Ronald Reagan, commiserating how pretty girls will be the death of him and probably Reagan as well.

Limon said she writes everyday.

"It's an obsession. But it's a healthy obsession," she said.

Another of Limon's poems she wrote while thinking of her deceased friend, Jessica.

"It's hard to admit we're alive sometimes," she read.

Another poem Limon read was inspired by a friend's challenge to write something sexy. Titled, "The City of Skin," Limon read, "This brilliant mess. Yes. Let's."

Cirelli said he prefers keeping his poetry short, once limiting himself to write poems that had just 14 lines or less. Much of his work attempts to connect the world of hip-hop to the world of academia. He also has background experience in slam poetry and was an individual finalist at the National Poetry Slam.

One poem of Cirelli's developed from his experiences in attempting to get published.

"The money that sea-sawed like tides," he writes in "Beat to Print."

Several of Cirelli's new poems focus on rap stars engaging in simple pleasures, such as eating out at a seafood restaurant, or other activities that are part of rap stars' private personas. The collection, titled "Lobster with Old Dirty Bastard," includes poetry about legendary rap artist Notorious B.I.G.

n "Buy You a Train," he highlights a son and his mother riding in her new, shiny white car and listening to a hip-hop song. The mother thinks the song lyric reads:

"Buy you a train," and while the son knows this is wrong, he stays quiet and decides he will one day buy a train for his mom as Cirelli read "a choo-choo for you."

Cirelli then read some romantic poems, including "Cigarette Love" and "Kissing Turtles." "Cigarette Love" examines the different types of love from "candy love" that is so sweet it leaves your tooth sharp with a cavity to "cigarette love in its slow drag."

Cirelli explained how in writing poetry, "a lot of simple similes change the tone of the poem."

Limon appreciates how poetry has the power to control time and place.

"You can travel so far in a poem," she said.

Both Cirelli and Limon offered advice for young poets who want to publish their writings. Cirelli encouraged the writing of chapbooks and said it helps if other poets and professors support you. Limon recommended reading literary journals.

"Make sure your work is a match for that journal," Limon added. "Sending out many of your poems allows a better chance for success."

In the meantime, Limon said, "Write everyday."

But then I had to get up really really early and catch the train. And the whole day felt like this:

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