Monday, November 06, 2006

A Promising Start...only

Snowfall in the cornfields of the Pioneer Valley

The evening started off beautifully: the kids were settled nicely in with a babysitter, we arrived at the restaurant right on time, and the wine was an excellent choice. The menu looked enticing, and we ordered quickly, anticipating a delicious meal before going to a friend's poetry reading at Amherst Books. Unfortunately, the meal never measured up to our expectations. It wasn't that the food wasn't delicious; it just...wasn't anything. In the hour and a half we enjoyed each other's company and that great wine, there was no food to be found. No bread, no salad, no bar nuts, no food. With only ten minutes left before the reading, we paid for our wine and hightailed it over to Antonio's pizza, who were able to serve up our food before we had even decided on a table.

In contrast, the poet Dave Roderick reading from his new collection of poetry, Blue Colonial, was a satisfying as anything on the menu of a friday night. Dave returned to the valley where he earned his MFA after a two-year teaching stint at WMA, and his ease in front of this "home crowd" was noticeable. He told stories, thanked members of the audience for their roles in his development as a poet, and explained his poetry with a disarming honesty and humility. As for the poetry itself, it was clear that this is a voice in American poetry to pay attention to. Roderick effortlessly weaves in historical themes with a more personal and introspective voice. His imagery is rich and textured, filled with the naming of specific objects and striking juxtapositions. I look forward to exploring the poems in greater detail and will report later.