Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Allen attends a poetry reading?

I went to a lecture at our local library here last night. Since I'm on the board of directors, I try to make it to those, and there's usually something interesting or educational about the evening--and so I don't count the hour entirely lost. (Not to mention, it's a group function that's not church-related.)
The speaker of the evening was one Dan Guillory, professor emeritus of English at Millikin University in Decatur, IL. He's written 5 or 6 books about various subjects, but generally, about living in IL--in his lifetime or before. His latest, I think, was about Decatur during World War I.
They asked him to come speak, and his advert to be published in the paper listed his topic as "Living With Lincoln." He's working on a book of poems that are all written in Lincoln's voice, so to speak. They're from his perspective. He did read from some of his poems & essays on Lincoln, but not until about the last 5 minutes of his presentation.
The library patrons here are used to more of a lecture format. "Hi, I've researched topic A and have written a book or two on that subject. Here's some of what I found." This was an hour's worth of a man reading his essays & poems. This is okay, if it's what you're expecting, and several times I saw some of the older crowd who have lived here all their lives nod their head in recognition and whisper to their neighbor, "Do you remember when we..." But it did sort of come across as false advertising, when your title is "Living With Lincoln," and you spend most of your time reading stories and poems about gardening, cats, and vanishing windmills and barns. Oh well. I picked up a couple of his books for $5. It's always good in my line of work to keep myself sharp in varied ways of talking about the human experience.
I also got to chat with him a while about this class he's taking at a church on the Psalms. The class is on the psalms, not the church. It's more of a discussion group, really, where they read one psalm per week and compare varying translations, etc. As an old prof of literature (hasn't taught a class in three years), he's quite enjoyed it, and learned quite a bit. The only book of the Old Testament with which he was really familiar up to that point was "Song of Solomon," which he used in a class on ancient literature, I think, along with Gilgamesh. He has since decided to begin looking at the Proverbs and Job. We then shifted gears to briefly discuss the merits of Mel Gibson's smash hit movie "The Passion of the Christ" by way of getting at the language barrier question when it comes to discussing something like poetry. Then someone else grabbed his ear, and that was the end of the conversation. Naturally, being the self-centered egotist and geek that I am, that was my favorite part of the evening. :-D
We are still looking for the ear.
Oh, by the way, I don't actually have a great aunt Myrple.

Listening to: "Go", Dexter Gordon

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