Sunday, July 4, 2010

A cool evening with Sheri Wright's poetry

Friday last was a perfect day. Cooler than the scorching mid 90s of the previous two weeks. Little humidity. Light breezes. After dinner out, Terry and I decided to take in the early evening on our deck, watching the birds head for roosts and nests. Even the squirrels were quieting down for the evening.

I picked up a book from the coffee table and took it outside. I started reading a poem or two when I looked up and saw the sky was nearly dark. I had finished the book. I got lost in the lovely images Sheri Wright used in The Courtship of Reason. I found myself returning to poems about dignity in aging and death. "Visitors" reminds us that we all grow old, no matter how young we may be today. And with that growing old comes wisdom, loss, and changes. I liked "Room 237" where a patient in a hospital lies dying, waiting for her mother to call her in for one last glass of lemonade.

None of these poems are sad, but they remind us to honor the elderly and treat them with respect. One day, God willing and the creeks don't rise, we too will be elderly and in need of respect.

Thank you, Sheri, for another wonderful collection of verse.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Wytheville and Fred First

Last Friday, I drove down to Wytheville with a writer friend of mine. It was the 26th annual Wytheville Chautauqua and writing contest. Both my friend and I placed in the essay contest. I was a little concerned about the title of the essay I submitted, "Balls," because I know the sensibilities of some of the people who coordinate the contest. But, since this had nothing to do with testicles and everything to do with juggling the various balls of life, I said, "what the hell" and sent it in. Took honorable mention.

The highlight of the day, of course, was getting to hear Fred First talk about eight years and 1,000,000 (yes, that is one million) words of blogging. Fred started with stray thoughts and images about the place he lives in Floyd County, VA. Very rural, gorgeous, and Fred's own special place. He read an essay from his first book, Slow Road Home, about how he hated canned, embalmed asparagus when he was a child. -- Hate to admit it. I still like canned asparagus, cold with wasabi mayo on a boat-nic. (That's a picnic on a boat.)

Fred's book is a direct result of his blog. He dumped his blog, formatted it for print, and self-published a few years ago. It's a hit and he's a wonderful speaker.

And I scored a promise to come to Roanoke and speak to the Valley Writers in 2011. Maybe I can get him on the same program with Jim Minick, who was also at the Wytheville event. What a day.