Sunday, April 27, 2014

A Dickensian Kind of April, A Dickensian Kind of Post

70ยบ ~ humidity at 100%, wind hard and steady out of the south, the first severe thunderstorm rolled through at dawn, we await the bulk of the storms due to arrive in the heat of the day

A Dickensian Kind of April...only in the sense of "it was the best of times; it was the worst of times." A Dickensian Kind of length.

Angie Macri, with whom I read on April 3rd, recently texted me that I needed to update my blog of folks would think she'd abandoned me in a field outside of Searcy, AR after the reading...oh, how I wish that was really what happened!

Instead, there was this.

I had a fabulous time sharing my personal narrative on Paula Martin Morell's Tales from the South, on Tuesday, April 1. This radio program is broadcast internationally, and is well worth a listen to any of the archives. I can't bear to listen to my own voice, but I hope y'all will check me out here. You can hear all about "Gracie's Great Adventure" (yes, I talked about one of our cats!), listen to a mini-interview, and an audience Q & A. All thanks to Paula for this amazing opportunity!

The morning after Tales, C. woke up with some kind of allergic reaction happening. I suspected an insect bite and sent him to the doctor.

From April 1 - April 12, our entire yard was under construction, as Little Rock Lawn Care and Landscaping came in and transformed our surroundings. Just keep that in the back of your mind. For much of this journey, we were parking in a neighbor's empty driveway or across the street; for the beginning part of this journey, there was quite a bit of mud!

On April 3, Angie Macri and I did a joint reading at Harding University, thanks to an invite from Dr. Nick Boone.  We were able to meet with students for an informal workshop and Q & A before our reading. The students were wonderful, quite talented, and asked insightful questions. I had blurbed Angie's forthcoming chapbook, Fear Nothing of the Future or the Past, earlier in the year, but after the reading I'm even more eager for my copy to arrive in the flesh, so to speak. Also, kudos to Harding. The room in which we read was elegant, and the audience engaged.

On arriving home late on the night of the 3rd, C.'s allergic reaction had spread to his hands which swelled to twice their size and began to throb with intense pain. A trip to the doctor the next day could not prevent a scary two weeks where his immune system went haywire and attacked his joints, putting him in an intense pain I hope I never see again and immobilizing him. In the midst of the busiest month of the year, I became a 24/7 caregiver for a few days, with great help from C's parents who came up several times to cover me.

The week of April 7th, saw the planting of a National Poetry Month garden at PTC. My brainstorm that led to the purchase of my lovely laminator! Thankfully, we had done much of the prep work at the end of March and I have access to a student worker who helped make all of this happen.

With the help of steroids and painkillers, C seems fully recovered. We see the allergist soon to discover the source of his misery. Of course, just as C recovered, my vertigo returned! I spent three days of the past week waiting for an appointment with the physical therapist to put my micro-crystals back in place. For the curious, here's all the info on that.

I did get back in fighting form, just in time to welcome Charlotte Pence and Adam Prince to the Big Rock Reading Series and the Arkansas Literary Festival. Charlotte's first full-length poetry collection, Spike, is forthcoming from Black Lawrence, which also published her chapbook, The Branches, The Axe, The Missing, and Adam read from The Beautiful Wishes of Ugly Men, his debut short story collection. Charlotte and Adam are friends, so I might be biased, but I think they gave a knock out reading on Friday at PTC. I was only sad that we had a fairly small turn out. I just wasn't on my A game for promotion and marketing. Luckily, Charlotte and Adam are gracious folks.

Friday night was the Author! Author! party for the festival. All praise to Brad Mooy and the folks who make the festival happen each year. The party is always one of my highlights, with food, drinks, and lots of time to mingle and check out the books of the featured writers.

Yesterday, I was lucky enough to read on a panel with Ash Bowen and John Bensko for the festival. Ash and John are both fine poets, with Ash continuing the U of Arkansas legacy (graduating a few years after me). Both also have new books: The Even Years of Marriage and Visitations, respectively. All thanks to Hope Coulter, my good friend, for moderating our panel. I can't wait until I can return the favor! Finally, all my gratitude to local friends in the audience who might have had to listen to repeats of a few of the poems. Seeing your faces in the crowd put me at ease.

After the reading, I got to have drinks with Charlotte and Adam, and soak up some sweet springtime sunshine. We did talk shop some, but in that sharing of experiences way rather than in any kind of academic pressure way. Yet, we still made time for telling those family stories as well and generally enjoying each other's company. A fine end to a fine festival.

I arrived home around 6:00 p.m., and I collapsed into my recliner, happy for all of the poetry and poets in my life, thrilled that C had spent the day piddling in the back yard, and eager for May 13th (graduation day). I spend my summers writing, and I am ready to go!