Wednesday, April 28, 2010

A great reading: Terrance Hayes & Natasha Trethewey at 92nd St. Y

My friend, prize-winning poet Sharon Dolin, teaches poetry at the 92nd Street Y and is in a position to take folks like me to great poetry readings as her guest.

We hailed a cab in a cool April drizzle and were soon catching up on our lives as we splashed through Central Park.

I was moved and transported by both their works. Terrance Hayes is tall! He speaks to the audience as if you were sitting comfortably at a table with him. I started to draw and soon was so absorbed by his narratives, his moves, his cadences, that my pencil stopped and time went into that alternate reality that too rarely happens. I loved his bubbling excitement with language even as the subject matter pierced me. He's good. Really really good. I ran to the library and took out Wind in a Box, and the voice is there. Best read aloud, I can almost hear him whispering behind my flat midwestern vowels.

Natasha Trethewey is assured and polished, I had the impression she prepares every word she says. Her invocation of Gulfport reminded me of the social fractures across my childhood years in Baton Rouge. Her poems are lyrical and wrenching. Of course, I was on the white side of town. Being the child of a white and a black parent, and having an appearance that can "pass," Trethewey had an uneasy position in the deep South. She has the most expressive eyes. I loved drawing her. She draws on history and myth. I took out Native Guard (won a Pulitzer in '07), which also has a series of poems about civil war black troops on Ship Island. 

Read them. If you haven't already.
And yes, more autographs.

1 comment:

Deborah Atherton said...

It sounds like a great reading. And I love the little portraits - they really capture the poets and give me a little sense of what it might have been like to be there.