S.D. Book Festival Wrap-up

Just a few thoughts I want to share about last weekend’s South Dakota Festival of Books in Deadwood:

Going in, it was clear that the roster of poets this year was quite good. Wayne Miller of Kansas City impressed me as a poet who I’ll be reading more of. I picked up his book, “The Book of Props,” after his morning reading in the Deadwood Public Library.

After Miller opened the day’s poetry, the “Dakota Poetry” presentation by S.D. poet laureate David Allan Evans, Elizabeth Cook-Lynn of Rapid City and Linda Hasselstrom of Hermosa provided a personal moment for me. Evans taught a poetry class I was in at South Dakota State University. Hasselstrom visited my first high school creative writing class in 1990. And the teacher of that class, Bill Schulz, was also at the presentation Saturday. Three of my earliest, and strongest, poetic influences were sitting in the same room. I offered my gratitude all around.

Melissa Kwasny of Montana writes a kind of poetry that I find difficult. I had hoped her reading would help me break through my own density, but alas, it was not to be.

Ken Waldman, Alaska’s fiddling poet, was unexpectedly interesting. I’ll admit that I was wary. I had some assumption that Waldman and his musical gimmick would be a half-notch up from the usual cowboy poetry schtick. But he put on a Beat-like performance that justified his having the largest audience of the day. He also generously offered me advice on where to submit my manuscript for publication.

Miller and Simon Van Booy presented “Favorite Verses,” in which the pair took turns reading from their favorite works. Van Booy, a Briton, was riveting in his own readings and his commentary on Miller’s selections as well.

Jim Reese of Mount Marty College in Yankton read with Evans later in the afternoon. I interviewed Reese, the editor of the literary journal Paddlefish, for this blog earlier this year, but I had not met him in person. His reading previewed poems from a new collection he has coming out soon. Evans also has a new collection in the works.

The day ended with Quincy Troupe. He read only three or four poems and then delved into his biography of jazz king Miles Davis, which is being made into a motion picture. He spent the bulk of his presentation talking with the audience about his long friendship with Davis. He didn’t do much poetry, but his stories about Davis were fascinating nonetheless.

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~ by ericedits on October 6, 2009.

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