Thursday, June 29, 2006

Poems Make Marvelous Traveling Companions

Choosing reading material to bring along on a trip is always easy for me. My bags are packed, and I have snuggled several books in between my summer dress and two-piece swimsuit. I am bringing Here at Eagle Pond and The Museum of Clear Ideas by Donald Hall. Can you guess where I am off to? New Hampshire. Tomorrow I leave for Boston. Dear friends will pick me up at Logan Airport. But this afternoon, to prepare for my journey, I visited the Chicago Public Library to borrow books by Donald Hall and other poets. Hall will be poet laureate come September, and he lives in New Hampshire—it keeps me in good rhythm to bring a New Hampshire poet’s work with me while I visit the “live free or die” state. Readers describe Hall’s poetry as “rich with New Hampshire rural landscape,” so I assume his verse will enrich my experience of the place. I am interested in chronicling my own voyage through the influence of Donald Hall’s poems.

Our group of friends will spend one day canoeing on Lake Pawtuckaway and another day playing on a beach in Portsmouth, Maine, a third day hiking through woods, and then road tripping to New York for the finale. We’ll also be following the World Cup finals and picking strawberries if there is still time. I intend to report about our party on this blog. This means I am attempting to take a break from my usual fiction endeavors to write in a more memoir or essayistic style, a kind of writing that usually gives me the creeps. But I have also been inspired by many other bloggers out there who seem to be blogging about their every-day lives. Also, I am reading Lisa Robertson’s Debbie: An Epic and her recent journal writing at the Poetry Foundation web site is encouraging me to practice more journal writing. In addition to Hall and Robertson, I am also traveling with Yusef Komunyakaa’s Talking Dirty to the Gods because that title captures, precisely, the spirit that is conjured when our special posse of Lawyers, Surgeons, Teachers, Mothers, Fathers, Ph.D.s, and Writers get together to celebrate American Independence in New Hampshire. We talk dirty, we cook gourmet, we slam dance, and we sip basil Mojitos. Also, this is a great year to be celebrating in the wake of the recent Supreme Court ruling against President Bush’s war crimes trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees. June 29, 2006 is a good day for the U.S. Constitution! Finally!

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