Saturday, November 30, 2013

From Black Tie to Pajama Time: Dispatch from the National Book Awards

I am in my pajamas. They are flannel and red and cozy. It’s a wintry chilly evening, and Lucas is way too far away in Hong Kong, so pajamas aren't too unusual. Except that I’ve been in my pj’s since 6pm. Perhaps I should feel guilty about this, but for some reason I do not. Actually, I know the reason. The reason is, for the past two months (since the last blog post, perhaps?), I’ve been a machine of on the go, a motoring tornado of doing. But the going and the doing was good and it was in the name of poetry service.

After months and months of reading truly amazing books, the poetry judges chose the winner of the National Book Award—the amazing Mary Szybist book Incarnadine—and oh how we celebrated. Lucas even wore a tux. Phil Levine was at our table. Lucas and he talked horses and he told the story about the first time he won the National Book Award. (He didn't go, but his son had to accept for him. He had no idea Phil was going to win, as Phil had assured him Stanley Kunitz would win. When he got up to accept the award all he said was, "Pop said Stanley would win.") 

But the night was so full of bonbons of pleasure, that I cannot convey them all. But I can say, we met all the writers, and we met many drinks, and when we finally met the bed it was 3am.

Then, it was the blurry starry glory of New York City—we ran the Brooklyn Bridge, we dined with our favorite celebrities, and authors, and playwrights, and the best people that were put on this earth. Of course I missed a few of my favorites. A trip to New York without Nicole Callihan or Lizzy McGlynn or Jason Schneiderman is absurd. But alas the trip was so fast that there was only one of me and I have short legs so it take me so long to get anywhere. Like my dear friend Joel said once, I have such small feet it must be “like walking around on fists.”

We left New York literally carrying a box of pizza. Then, it was upstate to Lucas’s family and so much food and laughter. I ran in a snow storm, I disappeared into myself and then came out again.

But what’s the news, what’s the news! The National Book Awards are over and I actually miss the heavy metal bang in my mailbox when the mailman used to throw the packages of books inside its rusty mouth. But now, as we begin again, we are preparing for our California trip and for my online class at 24 Pearl Street Online Writing Program. We still have slots available, so join us. It really is a wonderful class—and I’m not just saying that because I am teaching it—I’m  saying it because our experience last year was truly powerful. Apply if you wish!

In other news, I’ve joined the amazing Field Office Speaker Agency, which means I get to say the absolute insane sentence, “I’m on the same team as Nikky Finney.”

And the biggest news of all, my new book, Bright Dead Things is going to be published by Milkweed Editions (somewhere around 2015). (This poem in the new book just got nominated for a Pushcart!) I’m so pleased to be with Milkweed Editions once again and now I get to tinker and tinker with the book until it’s good enough to hand over to the world.

So, yes, I am in my pj’s. And I might be in my pj’s tomorrow night by 6pm as well. And maybe even the next. And the next….

It's back to the quiet life, the hours of good desk time, the flurry of words and deadlines I must meet, but it will all be done behind the scenes in my red flannel pants, breathing in the cold air, listening to the fake fireplace roar. 

Sending a flannel kind of love.


1 comment:

Leah Cohen said...

Congrats on your new book Ada! Looking forward to it.