I couldn't let a whole week go by without posting, but it would be fair to say that life is beyond crunched right now. We are in closing on our Winter issue of the American Scholar, and I'm chipping away at some large-scale projects inspired by my trip to New York. I don't mind being busy but what should be a time of coffee, swedish fish, and other forms of immediate gratification is instead dominated by my body's instinct to hibernate (damn you, 5 PM sunsets).
There's also just too many darn poetry readings: I've been invited to four on Sunday, November 16 alone! Luckily, we were still able to grab 50 people to fill the room at the Arts Club for Wednesday's reading. It was such a pleasure to hang out with Aaron and Ted. I miss, sometimes, the easy companionship of Charlottesville days.
Yet it is undeniably a good time to be in D.C. As the election results rolled in my neighborhood (Dupont Circle) erupted into hollering, honking, dancing and champagne-drinking in the streets. Fireworks were visible beyond the roof of the Quaker Meeting House. For as long as I've lived in city proper, I have cultivated an apolitical stance; but then again, Bush has been in office that entire time. So now I wonder...will I be a bit more engaged, because I'll be a bit more inspired? Perhaps I have some dogs in this fight after all.
When I was younger I wanted to be a speechwriter when I grew up. Regardless of how you felt about the politics, Peggy Noonan's "Thousand Points of Light" rhetoric showed the power of language to garner public support and shape policy. Just a couple of weeks ago I had a long conversation about using metaphor as a tool in ALL areas of life, not just poetry. A great metaphor not only provides an accurate model of a complicated idea, but it introduces its own fulcrum of logic that, in some cases, actually pushes and illustrates the idea beyond previous understanding.
If you're interested in speechwriting, you'll find an interesting interview here (thanks Gothamist!) with Terry Edmonds, the first African-American speechwriter in the White House (under Bill Clinton). If someone gave me the chance to join the speechwriting office in a Democratic White House, I'd be very tempted. They need more poets downtown.
Any bards out there have an interest in coming to DC for a year? If so, pay attention to this sweet opportunity--the Jenny McKean Moore Fellowship at George Washington University. Past Fellowship winners include Tony Hoagland, Dana Roeser, Carol Muske, and Rick Barot:
For appointment beginning in the fall of 2009, we seek a poet to teach two semesters as the Jenny McKean Moore Writer-in-Washington. The successful candidate will teach a small poetry workshop each semester for members of the metropolitan Washington community. No tuition is charged for these workshops, which are not open to University students. The successful candidate will also teach two classes, one each semester, for students at The George Washington University.
Basic Qualifications: The writer must have significant publications (poetry published by a well regarded press) and a demonstrated commitment to teaching. Like students in the community workshops, the writer need not have conventional academic credentials. He or she should reside in the Washington area while the University is in session, late August through early May. The historic Lenthall House, a 4-story Federal-era townhouse on campus, is normally available to the visiting writer through a subsidized rental agreement. The salary for 2009-2010 will be $58k plus an attractive benefits package.
To be considered, applications must be made by letter, indicating publications and other projects, extent of teaching experience, and other qualifications. The application must also include a resume and a selection of published poetry. Applicants are encouraged to send a book as their sample. Books will be returned if accompanied by an appropriate SASE. Review of all applications will begin on November 17 and will continue until the position is filled. Applications should be sent to:
Professor Jeffrey J. Cohen, Chair
Department of English
801 22nd Street, NW (Suite 760)
The George Washington University
Washington, DC 20052