VFB: What Poetry Suspends (3/25/06)

The above is the cover of  Chattahoochee Patrick Phillip’s 2004 book from the University of Arkansas press (80 pp., ISBN 1-55728-775-9).

This afternoon at the Virginia Festival of the book I attended a reading, “What Poetry Suspends” at the McGuffey Art Center  with Phillips,  Natasha Trethewey (Native Guard), Charlotte  Matthews (Green Stars), and Dan Albergotti (Charon’s Manifest).   Here’s one of the poems Phillips read:

The Rules

The first rule was that he made the rules.
The second: we obeyed them.
The worst rule was that rules changed
unpredictably if he was losing.

There was a rule that split us into teams.
A rule about no starting over.
According to the rules, our mother,
forced to choose, always chose him.

And though the game was nameless,
We could have called it Abraham and Isaac.
My brother hauled the wood, the flint, the knife
as our father made a bonfire of his anger.

There was a rule about the first-born son—
the lone, unbroken one that saved me.

You can read along as you listen to Phillips read another of his poems,  “A History of Twilight” at  Issue 29 of the Cortland Review.


At 4:00,   I drove over to Wilson Hall on the UVA campus  to hear poets Greg Orr (Concerning the Book That Is the Body of the Beloved)  and  Jane Hirshfield (After).

After running by Kroger’s to pick up a snack and a present for my hosts, I went to Culbreth to hear Art Spiegelman.  What a card.  I expected a shy artist, not someone so entertaining he could do stand-up comedy.  The program had listed the disclaimer that he would be smoking.  He started his talk by saying (my paraphrase),

I don’t really smoke.  I’m just playing the part of a neurotic New Yorker and I’m willing to sacrifice for my art.  Besides I’ll be talking about 9-11 and about the Danish cartoon controversy, so it’s fitting that I inject the smell of death into the air.


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: