I Am Big. It's the Pictures That Got Small

for those wonderful people out there in the dark

29 March 2006

On Denise Duhamel

First, Denise is a personal friend, someone I have unqualified affection for. But the truth is that a gazillion other people feel exactly the same way I do.

But since she came to FGCU to do a reading (for free) because of her friendship with me and Jesse Millner, I thought I would offer a few additional observations.

Before the reading we had a fun dinner at an Italian place near the university, as we had a good number of friends and students there--I forgot my digital camera, or I would be posting a ton of pictures right now. The group included student poets Rachel Kazor, Gary Levenson, Karen Everham, and Fran Marinaro and her wonderdog Night, colleagues Karen Tolchin, Win Everham, and Jesse Millner, and special guest Lyn Millner. I was really lucky in sitting between Denise and Rachel; I could feel all the envy directed at me from Jesse.

Unfortunately, our waitress was pokey in getting our orders, etc., and we were about 15 minutes late for the Sammie Pepys open-mic at the university bookstore. These readings, under Jesse's guidance, are the literary center of the university; he brings in a featured reader, and it is followed up by an open-mic event. The design of the program truly fosters both appreciation for the authors and an opportunity for young or novice writers to share a little stage time with some well known writers.

Denise, in short, was terrific. Because we were late, she read for only about 15 minutes (at most), just so that she wouldn't intrude on the open-mic time. What was touching, and a student commented on this as well, was just how thankfully Denise received her applause, genuinely expressing how touched she was. The student then noted how that was different from Billy Collins, who seemed to expect the applause after each poem he read. Precisely.

Anyway, Denise read from Kinky and Two and Two, ending with a breathy and breathless spin through her poem, "Egg Roll." In short, she left the crowd wanting more.

As the mostly students read for the open-mic section, Denise also showed her enthusiasm, applauding and yayying the young poets. She clearly remembers where she came from, and her humility, kindness, and joy just can't help but surface. Yes, we had a case of a wannabe beat, bad-ass poet, who screamed into the mic, doing a number on our ear drums, indulging . . . . it was bad enough that it dominated conversation after the reading, but I was also horribly bored with it, too.

After the reading, Lyn just had to have some pie, and so we (Lyn, Karen, Jesse, Denise, and I) went for a bite and coffee. Denise went out of her way to compliment Rachel's poem, and rightly so, marvelling at her control of line and phrasing, and reminding me that Rachel really could get into any M.F.A. program. Again, another sign of Denise's selflessness and generosity. Of course, I flirt with her a little, telling her how I'm plotting to get rid of her Nick, somehow, someway, but then I also tell her how he's one of the best guys I know around, and then I begin to feel my own Nick-love, and it's over.

So . . . well, the above just sounds like a regular diary entry, and I really didn't mean for that to occur. Denise's work, for the record, is nervy, bold, playful; she hasn't forgotten that poetry is both about survival and play. Anyway, she told me about a new project she's working on, and it's typically crazy, new, and experimental, and it sounds like fun, fun, fun to do. Any better reason to create an artwork?

No, Denise is no Billy Collins, and I thank all the poetry gods for that fact.

09 March 2006

Dead Period

It's the dead period in college football right now, just after the national letter of intent day--in which high school seniors formally commit to a football program--and before spring ball. A little hiccup will occur with the NFL draft, in which Boise State's Daryn Colledge should be an early second round draft pick, perhaps the 4th offensive linemen picked. No other Bronco will likely get selected.

As for the LOI signings, Boise State had to deal with the remnants of Hurricane Hawkins leaving town for Colorado; he took about four assistant coaches with him, and with them, went a number of possible Boise State recruits (likely 2 or 3 in all, most notably Hawkins' son, Cody). Even so, Boise State recruited one of the best QBs in California, and they have a stellar prospect in Darrell Acrey, a linebacker. They also loaded up with a number of defensive backs who are said to like to hit, a real need for the team. The only obvious gap is in recruiting a running back, but the rumor mill on Bronco Country has it that they may be picking up a junior college running back. In all, the recruiting class probably isn't quite as good as last year's, which is likely the best in Bronco history, but it's not much of a drop off.

If Chris Petersen's team can pull off a 11-1 record, and I think that that's very likely (I'm hoping for another perfect year), he should be able to continue the upward swing in recruiting for Boise State. The biggest drawbacks are the conference affiliation and the stadium size, but the Broncos are looking at changes on both fronts.