Thursday, March 29, 2007

Galway Kinnell

Tuesday evening Thade and I venture to Harvard for Galway Kinnell's reading. The meeting of the American Academy is ridiculous, filled with blue-haired blue-blood, robes, and gavels, but there is a decent younger crowd there to see the kickassness of one of my favorite living poets.

My mind is characteristically racing for the first half, but as the reading goes on I find it easy to concentrate on his words. The last poem he reads is about spooning with his wife, and I unexpectedly start to cry. I'm embarrassed, because dear god, who does that, and this is not just a classy welling up, but real tears and sniffles that destroy mascara and turn eyes red. Then I look behind me and see another girl about my age crying, trying to stop unsuccessfully, and I forgive her and myself.

After the reading, I pile a napkin high with free brie, french bread, and grapes and drink two glasses of complimentary sauvignon blanc. This is the first reason I love high-end receptions.

The second is that you actually get to talk to the reader afterward. I timidly and tipsily wait in line, shoving bread and cheese into my mouth until I am the only one and he motions for me to sit down.

I'm not good at meeting celebrities, and I can't think of anything to say except to tell him my name and tell him that the reading made me tear up.

He repeats my name and looks at me in the eye. "You were tearing up?"

"Yeah."

He smiles. "Thank you," he says, holding my gaze. He writes his autograph on my copy of The Book of Nightmares, a gift for my high school graduation from a middle school friend. I linger a second too long, then leave. Walking home, I feel a little better about everything.

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