Saturday, March 10, 2012

Hearing Writers Read

This week, I went to two readings, back to back: Thursday night was Nikky Finney at Reed, and Friday night was Cindy Crabb at Reading Frenzy. I never go to readings anymore, hardly ever, much less two nights in a row! And I've been teaching Nikki Finney's poems as part of the poetry unit we're in right now--I told my students about the reading, told them they'd get extra credit if they came, but no one showed up. Not such a surprise--the reading was on a Thursday at 6. Also I teach in the suburbs, and the reading was at Reed, in Portland. Besides, most of my students who have cars use them to work, all the time. Wendy's, Little Caesar's, Subway, Fred Meyer's--you name it, if it can be found in a mall or strip mall, if the people who work there make minimum wage or thereabouts, my students work there. They work there after school and on the weekends, they pick up shifts all the time--and if they can't pick up shifts, they won't get put on the schedule--argh. Anyway. None of my students came, sadly. But I was so so glad I went. With Megan and Virginia, too!

Nikky Finney won the National Book Award for Poetry this year. You can listen to her amazing acceptance speech here. She has a bunch of links to watch her reading her work on her website too. Also, I showed my students a piece of this. She reads what I think of as the New Orleans poem, "Left," at 20:36. I just watched her read it with my students, but next year we'll read it too. She read it Wednesday! She also read "Cattails," which my students read (and which I can't find her reading online, so no link, sorry--but here's the text of it. The text to "Left" and a couple others are also available at

Then, Friday, I went by myself to see Cindy Crabb read. No one could go with me, so I just went. I had to. She's been an important writer in my life since I was in high school, and she's on my One Hundred Most Influential Writers list! (This post has the list that was in the first issue--I changed the list just slightly for Issue #2, I'll have to post that one. Anyway, Cindy's on both of them, and I imagine will be staying on the list--since it's influential writers, there isn't much movement.) Another writer on the list also read in Portland on Friday: Maxine Hong Kingston was reading around the corner at Powell's. But while The Woman Warrior is a very important book to me, Cindy is such a bigger influence in so many ways. She's the only zine writer on my list. I consciously chose not to include zinesters, though I still go back and forth about it. Mimi Nguyen is on the "Other Important Writers" list, and she's one I keep going back and forth about bumping up onto the most influential list (one of Mimi's current projects). But Cindy is a writer whose zine I loved in high school, and kept loving. She's still writing, and keeps growing and evolving and writing interesting stuff. It was really cool to meet her, though I didn't say any of this. I did give her the two issues of My Hundred Most Influential Writers... but didn't say anything about them, really. Like, "Hi, you're on the list."

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