Sunday, February 8, 2009

Paterson Poetry Prize Reading

Each year I go to the reading held for the winners of the Paterson Poetry Prize. Yesterday was this year's reading. Although I'd just returned the preceding day from my own reading in the Collected Poets Series in Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, and was pretty tuckered out after a total of 8 hours on the road, freezing close to death in my unheated B&B, and then the exhilaration of the reading with Mary Clare Powell (we had an amazing turnout!), and then the fun of dinner after, I, nevertheless, hauled myself over to Paterson. I wanted to hear Franz Wright—all of the poets, but especially Franz Wright. Imagine, then, my disappointment when it was announced that he hadn't been able to make it down from Massachusetts. There was an audible groan of disappointment when this was announced. Happily, though, things went well after that.

Here's Stanley Plumly reading. If I were a man, this is what I'd like to look like. He has such fabulous hair, silver and full. He also has a wonderful voice, deep and resonant. He read one poem whose form intrigued me. It was 11 stanzas long, each stanza 11 lines, each line 11 syllables. This reminded me of Galway Kinnell's "When One Has Lived a Long Time Alone," but it did not have the repeating lines in lines 1 and 11. I always think it's a risk and usually a mistake to read such a long poem, but this seemed to hold the audience's attention.

I must mention here that I was using my brand new digital camera for the first time. And therefore I messed up. I took 11 photos, but when I returned home, I realized that I had only 3. Apparently, I pushed the button down only halfway on the others. I wondered why there was no flash and credited the camera with figuring out the lighting. Wrong! So no picture of our host Maria Mazziotti Gillan or the first finalist, Suzanne Cleary.

This is the second finalist, Linda Susan Jackson. She was followed by Matthew Lippman, but I neglected to push the button all the way down, so no photo.

And here's David Young.

It was a good reading, well-attended, but I wanted Franz and was sorry to have missed him. Then home for a snooze.

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  1. Had to laugh at your new camera story -- the exact same thing happened to me last week. I got into big trouble with certain persons for my technical incompetence.

  2. Hey, you posted your pictures before I did! Always great to see a full-house, even if I did have to stand a bit!

  3. Nic--It's so good to know that my incompetence is not unique. I'll do better next time.

    Anthony--I'm sure it took me less time because I had only 3 photos! You probably have dozens. Saw you come in but missed talking to you.

  4. This is very touching to me, and I'd like to make it up to you--can I send you a book. Name a book of mine you don't have or would like and send me a mailing address at

  5. Hi Diane--were these the winners from 2008, which means a publication date in 2007? I'm wondering, because the deadline for books with 2008 pub dates was just Feb. 1, so I doubt decisions have been made yet. Or have they? Can't seem to find this info on the Paterson website.

  6. Answered my own question by looking up the winning titles.

  7. FYI--The Paterson website went down due to some kind of power failure. They're in the process of rebuilding it.


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