Wednesday, November 22, 2006

AD ASTRA JOURNAL 1

Yesterday my husband woke me at 6 in the morning to show me the newspaper articles in the local papers about the poet laureate announcement,

http://www2.ljworld.com/news/2006/nov/21/haskell_dean_named_state_poet_laureate/?haskell_news

http://www.kansan.com/stories/2006/nov/21/low/?news

and from there on the day was full. Thanks to Mike Yoder for a great photograph for the paper. Sophia Maines and Ben White, the two writers, condensed my rambles very well.

Since I'm basically a shy person, but I love words--stories, poems, drama, nonfiction prose, all of it--so this pulls me into relationships with groups and individuals in ways I never expect. My husband is smart. When we were courting, he presented about six entertaining monologues, probably rehearsed, about his life and embellished them. He also was watching Humphrey Bogart movies and memorized great lines, and at romantic moments, he would deliver a line or two that sounded too good to be true. I caught onto what he was doing after awhile, and appreciated his ingenuity. He's also smart enough to come up with some of these lines and stories often enough to keep me content.

But the point being: as a shy person, I find myself in front of groups and cameras and microphones more than I ever imagined as a teenager putting a few lines of verse together. Yesterday there were 2 newspaper articles, a reception at Haskell Indian Nations University, where I teach, and a reading of Haskell students at the Johnson County Public Library in Overland Park, KS, which was recorded. The Lawrence Journal World online article also has a button that will play a recording of a short prose poem. This is not an era for the shy.

Other bits and pieces: I wanted the Haskell reception to be in the library because of how much libraries, and the books within them, have meant to me. It is a miracle, still, that I can walk into a building, wave a bar code over a scanner, and walk out with a pile of books. In my most poor days I could have this wealth. Gloria Graves is the acting director, James Jones the librarian (I don't know the technical titles), and Rhonda Levaldo, and they did a great job of hosting. The president Karen Swisher was gracious in introducing and presenting a plaque. My vice president and her division gave me flowers, as well as my depts. Roger Shimomura, esteemed friend and U of Kansas distinguished prof. emeritus and painter, found his way, and Janet Allen, a former student, and a good number of the Haskell family. Lori Tapahonso handed me the phone right before the event, and her mother Luci was on the other end, and it was so good to hear from her as well.

The Johnson Co. library reading featured Haskell students Alex Alvarez, Danny Reninga and alumni (and dear, dear friends) Jennie James and Bill James. What great work they all had. I may not get the spelling right here. But also author Diane Glancy attended, which was a treat. Jeannie and Tom Wilson host the series. Trish Reeves, creative writing prof. at Haskell arranged the reading, and my only regret for the evening is that she didn't read something of hers as well. This was part of the Writers Place readings, and the library said the reading would be available for Podcasts. I was tired but afterwards we went to the Thai Place down 87th a block for spring rolls and conversation about Haskell ghosts!

And another good moment yesterday was at the library Thanksgiving lunch, where I ran into former student Denny Gayton, now a KU grad. student, and I heard more of his research on Dakota oral traditions and mammoths and cosmology. His paper on this topic is on my husband's and my website for our small publishing co., www.mammothpublications.com .