October 19, 2008

Postcard from New York City

It's only been a few days in town, but it's a month's worth of happenings. I'll start by singing the praises of the Library Hotel. The rooms: each with its own theme (reflected in the name, the art, the loose books in the room) assigned by the Dewey Decimal system. The bed: fluffy. The robe: fluffy. The decor: granite and mahogany and rice paper and satin. The turndown service: complete with the next day's weather report and chocolates stamped with "library" quotations. The rooftop bar: complete with indoor fireplace and outdoor view. The courtesy lounge: open 24/7 with three types of coffee, copies of the New York Times, and a fresh orchid on each cafe table.

All in a location convenient to umpteen subways stations and Bryant Park. Poets & Writers, you could not have made me feel better cared for. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

The cuisine is incredibly rich and varied, and deserves its own post. Though I try not to fixate on such things, it is a little depressing to realize the sheer caloric intake. Ah well. If my belly survived Sewanee, it can survive this. And this food is MUCH tastier.

Three meetings so far, and I don't want to jinx anything by reporting on them here. But I'm learning a lot. Good stories are being told.

Saturday was my day o'vacation. No poet-talk--and though I love to articulate (aka...ramble) about the writing world, the silence was a relief. So I wandered. At this point, I can quickly size up public spaces where I could work on a regular basis. The New York Public Library is one such place; I dreamed of what fellowship or book contract would ever make it possible to go there every day as if it were my office. I was perplexed by the people who wandered around taking photos: of vases of fall leaves, of frescoes, of stairways, posing with their hands reaching out to books on shelves. Put away your cameras, get out a book, and read! That seems like the only true way to honor the space.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, with its staggering view of the skyline buildings reflected in the shiny surfaces of a surreal population of Jeff Koons sculptures, was too visually distracting to write. But I did dash off some postcards, and after many hours of exhibit-wandering (oh, my feet) I returned to the roof to read Phyllis Levin's May Day. She's the perfect veteran New York poet for that kind of setting, and I really liked the work.

Last night my family came into town. As exhilarating as this trip has been, it is also a touch lonely: when I checked into my hotel room I had a congratulatory split of champagne from the hotel and no one to use that second, waiting flute. Ooof. So having my folks make the looong haul from DC, kidnap my sister from college en route, and share this with me means a lot.

Later this afternoon, I am off to read at Housing Works. The good news: Ten copies of Black Warrior Review were 2-day mailed from Alabama and arrived in time to be donated for the reading. The proceeds of any that sell go straight to Housing Works, which runs a number of programs to help people living with AIDS/HIV. This is an extremely generous move on the part of the editors, and it allows me to show off this beautiful new issue of the magazine, with my chapbook of sestinas inside.

The bad news: Don't tell anyone, but I am more nervous than usual. It's rare for me to be reading by myself (so, no co-draw), outside DC, with no academic program shepherding students into the audience. Will anyone attend? Only one way to find out...


Carly said...

alas, i would have been there for that other flute from brooklyn silly! you were fabulous today!

newzoopoet said...

Phillis was on my graduate committee...great person and poet.