24 November 2007

American Purgatorio

I went to my first real reading this week. I was expecting some dimly-lit place where funky people with berets would snap at the end as they drank their coffee. You know, something like the poetry slam in "The Bean Scene" on The Goofy Movie. My professor, John Haskell, the one I told you about, read from his book American Purgatorio. The reading wasn't exactly what I imagined, but it didn't let me down. It was held in a funk-ified factory building. Students gathered on benches to listen to him read and answer questions, and then to a German actor read from the German version. Professor Haskell's answers to the questions were exactly what I would expect from him. He would tell stories in reply, get to the end, and say, "So yeah." Then the lady who was directing the questions (a local radio persona) would say, "I'm not sure that's an answer," and everyone knew it wasn't but loved what he said anyway. I thought it was hilarious when the radio persona asked about teaching classes. It was obvious he knew it wasn't his thing, but he didn't want to say that straight out in front of his employers and students. She said, "So you're teaching a creative writing class. Do you think it's possible to learn how to write well?" He hemmed and hahed, especially once he noticed Heather and I laughing in the front row. He made a comment about how you can be "helped along," but then he really made me laugh by comparing it to something totally not learned. In other words, it's hopeless for his creative writing students. :)

The book sounded just fascinating. If I had more money and reading time to spare, I would buy it. Maybe I should just do it since I have the chance for an autograph now. After all the formalities were done, we were free to look around (while enjoying tunes from some local DJ) at the art displayed from two artists, one of whom is from Brooklyn. People were given free drinks (beer or bubbly pop, neither my thing), pretzels, and cheese! One of the exhibits had little kaleidoscopic thingies to look through hanging from the ceiling. Here is a picture of me through one of them:

And this picture is of me being really excited about the exhibit:

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