The Philip Freund Prize for Creative Writing Alumni Reading – September 29, 2016



this is a production of Cornell University we like to thank the barber last nick for the generous gifts and making this really happen as well as the Freund foundation please turn your cellphone's off if you haven't done so already hilly Nabila Motors is right there if you get her mad she turns green and she gets her clothes ripped she becomes this thing I don't know so please turn your cell phones off and so they don't ring there are times when the establishment misunderstands a writer and they feel that a writer who is of a certain age or of a certain gender a certain sexual preference or a certain cultural background or color it's swimming in waters that are off-limits to that particular writer Herman curry oil writes like no other writer and he definitely writes like no other writer that happens to be or comes from Latin American origins his senses are these labyrinthian twisting turning tunnels that lead you all over the place but always brings you back where you started never letting you get lost it's Knobble losing my Spanish is this wonderful Joycean novel in its timeframe it is one lesson just one lesson the last lesson in a professor who's about to retire in that one lesson we see an entire not just life but an entire world and we see influence from Jose Lezama Lima influences of allahö Carpentier influences of course choice and I'm sure others and they're all tied together by the genius of Herman Carrillo I really believe that sooner or later the establishment will see the brilliance of Herman and to quote Langston they will see how beautiful he is and they will be ashamed it is with great honor for me to present to you the elegance and the eloquence of Herman Goering thank you very much when I guess welcome create change I want to thank everyone and the establishment actually for putting this together for the invitation and for thinking about me I'm gonna be reading from a brand new novel that's cold while into the smaller on us and it's a novel oddly enough you remind me that takes place in one evening and it happens to be an evening in which it's announced probably for the eleven hundredth time that Fidel Castro is dead and it's told by four characters and the character work I'm going to introduce this evening this is her introduction to the novel I don't really know what her birth name is I have no idea what her mother named her because when she immigrated from the island to the United States she changed her name to Nancy Sinatra CMOS or ELISA Adamo's knowing possibly he's tattooed in gothic letters across the boys shoulders a blue green purple and yellow snake slithers through the A's and the O's wraps its body around the peaks of the atoms and the acids and coils its tail around his left bicep excuse me the rattle tips upward in such a way that at first she thinks the deafening of cicadas to be searing on the shock of black fur coming out of his book his armpit rather than from the opposite side of the pool though blacks thrown off by the water lit him as he walked around the concrete lip of the pool solely unwrapping the humber bump from around his waist folding it and placing it at the end of the shallow an issues his socks his shirt and he steps naked out of his trousers and makes his way around to the back to the foot of the diving board and the head of the snake on his arms seems to want to toys just to look at her its eyes and mouth wide fangs poised as it hisses out the Cuban flag she strains her eyes and shakes her head making sure that she isn't dreaming her entire body cries out in rebellion as she lifts herself out of the bed and is confronted with reflection of herself in the mirror above the the fireplace in her bedroom too old to be so blonde too thin to be suit and hair flattened on one side where she slept Nancy Sinatra was more surprised to see the woman standing in front of her and her bare feet and full slip rather than the one that she thought herself to be earlier that afternoon at lunch by their third or fourth cocktail the years seemed to melt away and the man who had once been her lover somehow resuscitated the bloody lost they shared to see the dictator of dead this rated and real as if as they had often planned it they'd done it themselves and she'd lost count of the number of drinks he had ordered around the time she started to calling him Salado and a giggle she hadn't heard giggling in decades kept erupting from her lips no matter how hard she tried to control it he must have helped her out of her car and she remembers calling him Doody something she can't remember calling him for years everyone called him back duty back then but she realizes she's gotten used to telling him what to do without ever saying his name he picks her up he fetches her drinks remembers her birthday sits outside of dressing rooms all without her asking he had a guide heard her carried her up to her bedroom his handiwork is all around her the damn jacket she'd been wearing earlier launched a folded precisely in half and smooth flat on the daybed with the skirt that matched it he was dependable icloud loyal like that and possibly vulgar and repulse like that and they swim they still slept together he just like that and it's the common fresh and cannibal the Taste of Isle of Manhattan's in the back of her throat that she's barely able to keep down when she suddenly hears a spring of the diving board and turns to the window down in the gardens just to see the naked boy fly below her scrawny pale she can't tell if it's that he whoever he is has gotten past security or if it seems that he's so comfortable welcomed floating on his back in her pool that causes her to bite the edges of her tongue raw Nancy sadhana looks down to see her hands and Flajnik flight and she rushes to her bay at that table and grabs a carafe sitting on the top by its neck sending the stopper flying she gulps directly from the open mouth and as much as the burn comes with the three or four swallows Lou sues her neck and scalp crawl not because of the lipstick stain she sees that she sets it back down but because the vanity that she bothers to have vodka decanted into can't into cap her ass and as she reaches for the bottle unsure if she's intending to empty it or small or smash it or both she hears the boy coughing a gentle gust of wet warm air comes through the zone rides across her bare shoulders making her feel suddenly immodest and sending her to close chews her white marabou wrap over the pink or blue one in something insists that she reapply lipstick entire mouth has turned into a red hard gasp gash instead of her signature petal pink and for a moment she steps back and looks plans to order the boy of her pool and offer property threatened to SiC dogs she doesn't have on him and call the security team which consists of two retired policemen at the front gate and yet she finds herself swallowed by half wish is a wonder if she still has the ability to learn him upstairs just to tell them that he doesn't want him Newtown fries she spills some vodka into a glass and takes the stairs two at a time other way she imagines herself standing at the far the pool throwing her hair back and looking her nose down at him well allowing the rap to fall open revealing what she believes she still has that makes any man want her as much as fear her revealing what it takes to make the boy naked in her pool want to run from her with a painfully hard direction though crossing the line she stopped by wonderful wet foot and though hesitant to look she realizes that if she stepped out of the grass onto the patio she's wearing one of the heels that she's worn earlier and one yellow Pooh you yellow marabou covered mule she's nearly ready to turn back and correct from mistake we filled a half-empty glass when the boy floating on his back pushes an amber fountain abyss the crest nearly four feet above before splattering back into her pool she drains glass and drops it on the ground before what washes oh I am missing h6 I'll catch you up she has a desire to you she begins to collect his clothes she collects his shoes she collects his pants in which he finds two wallets and a wad of cash and she takes the cash out and she stuffs them into the cups of the the bra cups of the full slip that she's wearing and she throws the wallet away and she finds the cumberbund she finds a shirt and she resists the urge to smell the shirt because one of the things that she's kind of committed to is that ever since she was a little girl she's figured out that to have a man you had to take them by surprise otherwise you were theirs and this was long before the differences between little boys and little girls at least the fundamental ones were forced upon her and then she finds his jacket she nearly holds her breath with excitement and she steals her way to the shallow end of the pool where she finds that he's hung his jacket the one to the stalks on the rail that leads into the water he is facing the diving board she watches as the back of the back of his head and as the idea drops as the idea to drop the jacket in the water and crawls over scalp she nearly screams with anticipation the taste ancient as she jokes it back down she's surprised how happy the jacket is she first checks the breasts I could wear she finds yet another bill foe hold she doesn't bother to go through it and tosses that when the revolver falls out and scatters on the pavement she knows what she's supposed to do she's had years of training nearly 30 years of what to do and in the event of an intruder she's been waiting for just a small but she should barricade herself in the room call security call Solorzano and wait wait for men yet the boy rocks in the small wait she's created in the pool that threatens to push him up again and spit him onto the lawn as he turns face upward ribbons of blood twists and bloom as if unfurling themselves into an enormous pair of giant wings strong enough to lift him up straight into the sky broad enough to hover as canopy over her kept afloat by the flutter of one hand at his side the other does not seem to move seems trapped in the helix of a fat red serpent because she can't see it she assumes it to be the one that was on his back and it's crawled off in the water and Nancy Sinatra tries to look for its head its fangs its tail when the boy says don't do that no more what she has don't do what the boy gulps in pink water as if gathering purchase he says don't do that no more pricks as if she's being dragged headlong through fields of Nettles run up her fingers across her arms her shoulders and flush her raw through the scalp her elbows jerk over and over as if the gun was still firing in her hands I'm told they thought pushy praise though not loudly enough to hear the harsh whisper hyouta me Senora he would have a bob or Nancy Sinatra opens and closes her hand around the part of the ground as it clicks empty empty empty in the air like you to me like you to me like you to me she whispers thank you I want to remind everybody that there are books for sale in the outer part of the auditorium and books by all of these authors so please take advantage of that and buy the books also there's a reception after the reading upstairs on the second floor I can't remember the room number but you will find it just follow the crowd and there's a chance to talk with the readers and I think we usually have some kind of food and drink up there at least drink something to drink so um yeah the reception please attend please everybody's invited afterwards okay so it's it's my honor and pleasure to introduce two world-class poets who happen to be graduates of our MFA program the first to read is Sally when Mao and I had the hardest time writing these introductions I've written a lot of introductions but these were hard because I there's so much I want to say about them Sally graduated in 2012 and her debut collection mad honey symposium which was essentially her MFA thesis was published by Alice James in 2014 Sally's work has appeared in poetry Tin House best American poetry through 2013 and many other marvelous places she's held fellowships at kundiman hedge brook bread-loaf and she recently received a 20-17 pushcart prize for her poem Anna May Wong blows out sixteen Candles yeah yeah it's great amazing what people do this is just they blow me away her second book oculis begun during her time at Cornell has been accepted by grey wolf which is fabulous and is forthcoming in 2019 last year she was an international writer in residence at the National University of Singapore and she's currently a Coleman Center fellow at the New York Public Library which is a dream honor it just all they asked you to do is to be pressed – right it's kind of a dream for any writer now to tell you just a little bit about Sally's work she writes with a breathtaking assurance and linguistic Brio she's a poet whose innovations seem effortless because they arise from her character and passions the textual surprises are generated by an obsessive engagement with language of fresh intelligence and a heartfelt commitment to her subjects her first book mad honey symposium is a fierce and delightful work after I finished reading at my head was spinning I felt barely grounded by gravity reading it was like taking hits of pure oxygen the language is that dazzling and this linguistic fervor exists to suggest a Content that is always rich complex and important she's one of the very few poets I've known who combines an original language with a conscience made amply evident in the poems content I was continually amazed by the passion the energy that Sally brought to her work again and again I was struck by her imagination her insatiable appetite for words and her ability to apply those strengths to explorations of complex ethical subjects the charged surfaces of her poems are matched by their feral depths rather than shy away from complications of content Sally Mau embraces the possibilities without sacrificing the music or beauty of her work her chinese-american identity and heritage are central to her poetics and she also explores powerful conflation zuv animate and inanimate entities as well as other surprising portmanteaus her poems often narrative and sometimes beautifully oblique in their lyricism are crafted with a formal elegance that owes more to free verse traditions than to traditional prosody in addition to her imaginative skills sally is a disciplined writer firmly committed to the demands of her craft I can think of few writers who managed to be so prolific while consistently crafting polished audacious poems I guess what I'm trying to say is Sally men Wow is a force and I think I just mispronounced her name's Sally when Moe she's a force her wildness her witness our original her gift is blazing I prize both her daring and her meticulous control the mind and the nerve and the love that make her poems the amazing things they are passionate and cerebral touching and funny her poems surprise and Electrify with their high voltage moves so listen and be energized Sally introduction Wow no I'm um thank you Cornell for welcoming me back it's only been 2 years but you know it feels like a lifetime I owe a lot to Cornell and including the writing of this book and um I figured I would start with the first poem from mad honey symposium Valentine for a flytrap you are a hairy painting I belong to your jaw nothing flakes you know fruit fly no cricket not even tarantula you're the Kariya's hood I want to duel do wet in tongues luxurious spider bed blooming from the osso Aries of peat moss I love how you swindle the moths this is why you were named for a goddess not Botticelli's Venus not not any soft wave there's voltage and your flowers motes gains armory for cunning love's your mouth pins every sticky body swallowing iridescent digesting light Venus let me swim in your solarium Venus take me in your summer gown so I'm going to read a poem that I wrote here it was very cold here so this poem is called high boom high button for sawing I long for an immigrant in my bed one who is unafraid of knots one who will arrive with hail miss eyelash one whose memories are muddy as mine one who guesses the words of his own father's dialects one who skin leaps to touch mine one who follows the floodlights Norse one who discovers a hideaway crouching with his palm above his throat where it's warmest one who trespasses arboretum soaked a manic light I won't I long to measure his body by its a materiality its ability to seep through borders someone formed from a womb of passage together we will incubate one sleep one tick one uncombed head too far from winter the distance to each face grows quiet said my wish okay I will read a section from this poem called um the pickpocket and so this is based on a story of a school of mythical school outside Bogota in Colombia that's that's a that's a university for pickpockets and yeah anyway lesson six picks a lock before the pocket so any prison they built for you will lead you to another corridor tank with spillage from imagined cargo if it's cold do not shiver if it's hot do not sweat picks a boy whose backpack is light picks a boy with the city fingers and the slippery jacket when you take from him leave the morsels leave the picked-over bones it goes of food you don't eat and store it in a metal box for your future self assume because your future self will always be hungry I'm going to read a few poems from my new forthcoming collection called oculus and one of the central projects it's like series within this collection is um is based on the story of uh where is it do I have it is based on the story of anime one who's an actress from the Golden Age of Hollywood and so she was born in 1905 and her heyday it was probably the 20s and 30s she was born she was the daughter of a laundry man and and she was born in LA in fact I don't find uh maybe I don't have it ok well I'll read the first one this one is called the toll of the sea and this is based on the first film that she starred in and the only thing you need to know is that it's the first Technicolor film with two colors red and green and it's a retelling of Madame Butterfly green means go so run now green the color of the sirens see whose favours are a mortgage upon the soul red means stop before the cliffs jag downward red as a color of the shore that welcomes white the color of the man washed ashore from his shirt to his pants to his British shoes white the color of the screen before Technicolor white the color of the master narrative green the color of the ocean so kind not leaving stain on the white shirt green the color of the girls so kind but why she speaks alone in my garden I heard the cry of wind and wave in the green girl's garden the stranger clamps her asks how would you like to go to America a lie soaked in the red of the chokecherries that turn brown in the heat red the color of the roses that spy red the color of their fake marriage white the color of the white man's from she asks is it great lark or great Sparrow you call those good times in America green the color of his departure white the color of the counterfeit letters she sends to herself white the color of their Sun white the color of erasure red the color of the lost footage red the sea that swallows our stories read the color of the girl who believed the roses red the color of the ocean that drowns the girl red the color of the final restoration in every story there is a Technicolor screen black white red green in every story there is a chance to restore the color if we recover the flotsam can we rewrite the script alone in a stranger's garden I run I Forge a desert with my own arms blue the color of the recovered narrative blue the color of the siren sea which refuses to keep a white shirt spotless blue the color of our reclaimed pacific blue the ocean that drowns the liars blue the shore where's our girl keeps living there she rises in the opposite shore there she awakens prismatic childless and free shorn of the shorn of the story that keeps her kneeling blue is the opposite of sacrifice ok can I think ok well since the poem I was looking oh here I got it here it is okay so this this poem is called Anna May Wong blows out sixteen Candles and oh the premise of my anime warm poems their personal poems with the exception of the one I just read and um and basically my experiment was like what if she had a time machine and she could travel into the future of Hollywood and cinema I mean she died in 1961 so okay Anna May Wong blows out sixteen Candles when I was 16 I modeled fur coats for a furry a white men gaze down my neck like wolves but my mink collar protected me when I was 16 I was an extra in a tale of two worlds if I didn't pour someone's teeth and I was someone's wife every brother father or husband of mine was nefarious they held me at knifepoint my neck in a chokehold if they didn't murder me I died of an opium overdose now it's 1984 and another white girl awaits her sweet 16 it's 1984 and another white girl angst about a jock who kisses her at the end of the film now it's 1984 and long Duk dong is the white girl's house guess he dances drunk agog with Gong sounds all around the nation teens still taunt us hallways bloat with sweaters slurs when I was eight the boy who sat behind me brought pins to class do Asians feel pain the way we do he'd ask he'd stick the needles to the back of my neck until I winced I wore six wool coats so I wouldn't feel the sting it's 1984 so cast me in a new role already cast me as a pothead an heiress a gymnast a queen cast me as a castaway in a city without Shores cast me as that girl who rivets centers or cast me away into the blue where my lips don't touch or say if I take my time machine back to sixteen or twenty or eight I blow out all my candles 16 wishes extinguish and burn the boy will never kiss me at the end of the movie the boy will only touch me with his needles so I have a few more one more anime one poem um so this this one is called Anna May Wong makes cameos hey Romeo Must Die mm I'm a Leah's sassy friend I give her tough love and good advice kiss gently I tell her the director cuts their kissing scene replaces it with a hug rendering my seem pointless so they cut me from the film Kill Bill 2003 I'm go go you've Ari's grieving twin sister in my nightmares Chiaki Kuriyama swings her iron balls over my futon the noise Madden's me to avenge her i lunch with a steak knife at umas Whitevale i die as my bones crunch under her heels the Last Samurai 2003 I'm Tom Cruise's love interests younger cousin I cry at the sound of a twig falling down in the end I am sacrificed so they can shed tears and take comfort in each other as my spine goes limp hollaback girl 2004 I'm Gwen Stefani's arch-nemesis the cute asian girl who dissed her behind the school bleachers once I was her backup minion now no more I've gone rogue furro is the other cameo together we conspire to take her down there are claws there is Glore in the end the showdown is cut in favor of Gwen's cheerleading routine Memoirs of a Geisha 2005 I'm gone Lee's evil apprentice geisha I trip young saya do with my silk sash I start her kimono on fire the rival okiya crackles and burns as the beams fall down in ashes lightning whips the howling door do drips down my forehead my jewels in the confusion I perish of course hey okay just two more so this first poem is my pokemon poem I like I I wrote it like a year ago but there's a there's a town in Pokemon called lavender town and there are a lot of urban legends surrounding this it's it's a level on the original video game and and it's it's where all the ghosts dead Pokemon are buried and there are all kinds of weird like urban legends including like about like hundreds of Japanese school children once they reach that level they have been found like walking confused on the road and like and and yeah lots of weird urban legends like Dark One's – you know they like kill themselves on some of these anyway lavender town don't let the sour flowers fool you child this town is a dud town the Tower tolls to your trow your heartbeat inaudible to everyone except you you listen you hear ghost notes discordant leaves clutter the earth tin and rustle a lachrymose bird cries a graveyard glistens when you climb the stairway don't shield your eyes from the pixels thirty Hertz heat don't shield your off from the ghosts of pretty prey the ones you catch when you're alone and afraid lavender town noble purple town bloomed perfumed dream of violet fields can you hear the killing machine sing what secrets hide why run why hold on you walk by the side of the road biting an apple as you wave your thumb a blood blood sickos down a rebel you are a hitchhiker a tiny seventh when you grow up and the screen lights up all your blind spots and you replace the dead green cartridge with a blank one of your making you'll arrive at last at the final battle maybe then you'll find that the game you're playing is a hack you thought you were invincible and just like that the boss Kayo's you and other times you're astonished at your own breath other times you thought you were dead but your body was eternal all along and just one more um so this poem is inspired by a piece called 1000 boats by Yayoi Kusama the artist and I I read her biography this winter and and and she said that she's like she has this dust fear she's really afraid of this thing and and oh you kind of get it from a poem 1000 boats summer 2013 at the shtetl ik Museum the boat overflows with handmade penises in 1963 the artist so thousands of these despite her abject fear of dick revulsion transforms into a burial a ritual of obliteration in her autobiography Kusama wrote it was only by doing this that I gradually turned the horror into something familiar imagine having a penis phobia then stitching a thousand phalluses together gluing them to the hull of a ship imagine the nightmares a choppy sea a monster gust icy rain and tumbling oars a bed of black mambas swarming the only lifeboat in sight I imagine rowing that boat to a place far away from any flesh and blood I know far away the world bursts into infinite colours wisteria gun powder smells long extinct returning to the senses like phantoms sails through this fear beyond its dirty haze every penis is a liminal space I surrender cure my bloodlust cure my penis envy no my phallic frenzy with the spell of red flowers and a dragnet for fools I venture into the orgastic summer and through and though my fear is never cured I dream harder adventure deeper obliteration turn your everyday Horrors and to what's familiar obliterate doom obliterate time obliterate enemies go where you don't recognize the flora or fauna in a dazzled forest crown yourself with your fears thank you Adam Christ was a student of mine but I take no credit for his development as a writer his sensibilities his style his voice were long-established before he met me what I appreciate about Adam was that his stories were always ambitious they were always full of range they were always full of scope he was always looking to hit a home run never did Adam submit a 5 or 6 pager saying that this is all he had or that he was a slow writer or that story that he had already submitted the semester before with slight changes which is basically the same story or never did he wrote a Twilight Zone episode some story with some cheap punch line or in predictable lending his stories were always a notch below or way above the story that he had gotten into this program with Adam price always was looking for the home run and when he struck out he struck out big and that was alright because that is what he was getting paid to do to read us from his bottom of the ninth three men on two men out Oh in two count game seven down by three shot heard around the world Adam the Grand Tour price hello well what an intro this is great these entries are this should really be the intro reading I think the intros are great also every penis is a liminal space I don't think I'm gonna put a might I'm a my tombstone okay so to read the first few pages of this book because it doing so requires no contextual explanation if it doesn't make sense then it just doesn't make sense I guess um and I think this is around 10 minutes oh I I wanted to say first um and I was filled with terror when I saw Emily's written remarks because I realized I hadn't done that but um at lunch aw Jay said something that resonated with me which was um he said I don't know if you said it was these were the best four years of you were like writing life or your life but that really rang true for me I think on the four years I spent here were maybe the best years of my life honestly and so I was really a great honor to be invited back for this and see so many familiar faces reveille is meaningful so thank you very much for allowing me to do this okay chapter one October 2005 sir no sir someone shook him awake a blonde woman blurred into view he looked up at her momentarily uncomprehending and deeper and she was bent close over him gripping his shoulders with painted fingers engulfing him in her clawing perfume a mist of candied strawberry yes he said feigning full consciousness you have to leave yes you have to leave sir the hostile corporate courtesy and that sir brought him closer to his senses she wanted him to leave but leave what as his vision cleared his first clue was provided by the blue tunic she wore with a winged insignia over the breast another clue quickly following the first was the row of seats behind her telescoping forward to a point where his bad eyes couldn't focus it all came back to him in roughly the form of a second person haiku your name is richard Lazar and you were on the first stop of your book tour and you took too much ambien where is everyone he asked grappling futile II with the thin airplane blanket twisted around his arms like a straitjacket they already disembarked I've been trying to wake you for a while I thought you might have that you were no apparently not in one violent motion he rested the Branka the blanket away from himself and rose to his feet nearly falling sideways under the flight attendant in the process she stepped back with her hands in front of her palms up as though keeping plenty of space to a person having some sort of a fit he studied himself unwedge to suitcase from the overhead compartment and lumbered down the aisle jian seng side to side on dead legs a friend of his back in Phoenix had given him some pills to take to make the flight easier well they had done that he thought combined with the pint of vodka had polished off in the planes bathroom did made the flight very very easy the only problem was actually getting off the plane he Frankensteined it through the cabin and up the long jet bridge and emerged into the fluorescence of the shabbiest boarding gate had ever seen he hadn't seen many the result of a lifelong fear of flying coupled with a general disinclination to go anywhere but this was certainly the shabbiest several ceiling panels were half-rotten with brown water stains and one was missing entirely providing a nice view of the filth caked girders above a darkened mcdonald's brooded to itself across the empty room a tall kid wearing glasses a backpack and the famous ghost of a beard stood alone holding a sign are in Lazar it said in big block letters each of which seemed to have been laborious ly filled in with a sharpie he wrote a suitcase up and the kid held its sign to his chest as though to protect himself from a blow his fine brown hair was swept in a delicate fringe across a high worried forehead richard assumed the hairstyle was an attempt on the kid's part what looks like a palimpsest of acne mr. lazaar the kid said Richard your Lance Vance aller B Vance Lord the sign and extended his hand with a look of such dignified grave ceremony that Richard had to fake a coughing spell in order to disguise very real laughter Wow he said excuse me as they shook the kid took a breath and launched into what was clearly a rehearsed speech how on behalf of the university how happy they were how if there was anything they could do and so on he concluded and it's the founding member and president of your regional fan club the Warlocks I just wanted to say that on a personal level this is a real honor for me on behalf of the what Richard disengaged his hand the Washington area Richard Lazar auxilary it took him a few seconds with Vance looking at him expectantly but he finally got it the Warlocks Jesus Christ how many other warlocks are there at present yes at present Vance blinked at him well right now it's just me but I'm hoping to expand the operation Richard teetered on his rubbery legs resisting the urge to look around and see if he was being with he was struck by feeling that had become common almost unremarkable over the last year that without realizing exactly when or how it had happened he had been transported to an alternate dimension this dimension was similar to the one in which had lived his whole life but at certain moments such as this one he became transparently outlandish and far-fetched recently for instance a man who signed his missus sergeant Ricky had obtained Richards address and the gun sending him maps of Vietnam with certain cities crossed out it was nice to have fans too bad none of them was sane or female well he said it's an honor it's an honor to be here which way is out oh sorry the kid grabbed the suitcase handle led Richard through the ambitiously named main concourse a whitish hallway that featured a shuttered newsstand a shoeshine operation on a definite break and a moribund subway a lone TSA agent leaned against the wall and mumbled jargon into a walkie-talkie held sideways how was your flight asked Vance over his shoulder I have no idea have you ever been to Spelman before like so many things in my life somehow it never happened Richard gaze fondly at a small Bank of rental kiosks they passed thinking that maybe it wasn't too late to call off the student escort but they were already pushing outside into chilly damp air climbing onto a moving sidewalk Vance walked ahead but Richard stopped and caught his breath the overcast sky looked like a dirty sheet pulled over the horizon the Sun and dim flashlights behind it everything in the vicinity seemed to be painted gray by the drizzling mist the sidewalk deposited him in the hourly parking lot where Vance was already loading a battered Ford Explorer this rusty trunk was a patchwork of bumper stickers carry Edwards 2004 of course but also coexist subvert the dominant paradigm as Hugh Station bluegrass players do it cleaner and a decal of the USS Enterprise Vance to open the passenger door and Richard awkwardly hoisted himself up and then he looked at the hand lettered sign in the backseat and imagined Vance bent over it pin in hand and tongue in the corner of his mouth the image produced in him an surge of unwelcome affection for the kid they drove in silence on the highway for several minutes during which time Richard could feel Vance glancing over at him working up his nerve to say something the kid took a deep breath and said I love your books Thanks without leave it's probably my favorite but I've read them all well as president of the Warlocks you'd have to write fans seemed to be considering the question that's true I guess he said then after another moment I'm a writer too you know no I didn't know that maybe he thought he could quietly undo his seatbelt crack the door and do one of those stunt rolls down the sloping adjacent hill that overlooked the town maybe he'd wind up at his hotel I mean not like you I've lived here all my life fans gestured out at the landscape which was mostly which mostly consisted of aging 70 strip malls interspersed with pine trees you've done things I like stuff that has the force of experience behind it you can tell earnest intensity radiated from the kid like heat off blacktop and Richard had to resist the urge to disabuse him of all the ways he was wrong they drove in silence for another quiet minute during which he time he sensed vans drawing another extraordinarily deep breath finally the kids said actually I recently finished something if you have time maybe you wouldn't mind taking a look at it sure Richard lied guessing he would probably mind it a lot keeping his eyes on the road Vance leaned back and felt around on the back seat and produced a copy box from Kinkos which he laid on Richards lap no rush he said but I'd love to know what you think about it I'll try and take a look soon Richard lied again with deep regret at having said yes to a student escort why did he always make the wrong decision why why on earth had he agreed to this well he allowed because he liked the idea of someone picking him up at an airport with a sign that was why because it sounded like the Royal Treatment and not a royal pain in the ass also because he plan on having a few drinks to celebrate his first night on tour and you liked the idea of having a driver pride is ever going before a fall live and never live or excuse me live and never learn that was his credo the road they were on curved up a hill and the city such as it was stretched out in the valley beneath them the buildings were meek and low mostly constructed from beige brick and the overall effect was a kind of apologia as though the city fathers had tried to create as close to the impression of a kind of non city as was possible while still in fact having a city the in offensiveness of it offended him Phoenix enormous desiccated crime ridden meth invested golfing community that it was at least didn't worry about hurting anyone's feelings that's the caller just advanced pointing to the left side of the Vista where there were more trees and more beige buildings that's where you'll be speaking tonight what is that Joel Whittaker auditoriums advanced grandly I see do you want it to were of campus where I could show you downtown I thought I heard something about a hotel oh yeah you're staring you're staying at a Comfort Suites a Comfort Suites by Marriott thank you so now it's my pleasure to introduce Emily Roscoe Emily entered our MFA program with the Javits Fellowship and while still a student she won the prestigious and competitive Ruth Lilly award from poetry magazine she was pretty much an acclaimed poet from the minute she got here a few months later she received a Stegner fellowship to Stanford and her first book raw goods inventory which was essentially her MFA thesis won the Iowa poetry prize and it was published by University of Iowa and it also received the 2007 Glasgow Prize for emerging writers while Emily was here in the program I noticed that she never let any of these honors go to her head she is one of the most grounded compassionate generous empathetic and modest poets I've ever known after Stanford she completed a PhD in creative writing at the University of Missouri she edited an essay collection a broken thing poets on maligne which was published by University of Iowa press her second collection prop rockery won the Akron poetry prize and was published by the University of Akron Press in 2012 Emily also is a dedicated educator whose teaching was honored with Despenser prize at Cornell and the Donald K Anderson award at University of Missouri Missouri she's currently associate professor at the College of Charleston and she also is poetry editor of Crazy Horse magazine Emily's first book raw goods inventory is a beautifully crafted work composed with attention to formal aspects but yet it's never inhibited by them her poetry is gorgeously made but it also retains enough enough fragmentary edginess to earn the adjective raw her poems are exquisitely honed yet they feel alive rather than studied there's a powerful emotive and cerebral undertow to her meditations and always something at stake materialism the substance of things and bodies is one of her subjects and raw goods inventory is a book of objects that memorialize emotions and temporalities that can't be objectified Rosco also is a poet of things half-finished or undone of process and dissolution she is moreover a writer who confronts the largest ethical dilemmas while still retaining the reticence and complexity necessary to poetry her second book prop rockery is composed of sonnets and longer poems that take their titles from lines in Shakespeare's plays and are voiced by Baker's actors buffoons and all that tribe as an epigraph from Horace suggests these unstable monologues and playful restaging 'he's often are concerned with the location of power in language and psyche the rocks of a theatre set are given voice in the title poem a meditation on the antithesis of dominion on ground rather than figure ambiguous complex and beautifully made such poems gesture toward the performative while avoiding drama or literalism the fractured dense heady continually emergent poems that riff on scenes and themes from the plays with a freewheeling of lute elusiveness and they remake platitudes with Shakespearean Flair in other poems emily manages to reimagine the tradition of nature poetry within a contemporary context of eco poetics wind the stuff of lyric poetry the force that strummed the lyre is one focus of these honed meditations whose language is that once gravid with substance and fill abrading with space this wide-ranging inventive body of work makes Emily Roscoe one of the most thrilling poets writing today her brilliant work and really to her way of being in the world have always made me want to read and write and I think that's the highest compliment and praise the one writer can give another listen and be mind blown so first thank you to the Creative Writing Program to the faculty for this amazing gift of this Alumni Award and for bringing me back to Cornell's campus yet again so nice to be here hearing other fellow readers and thanks everyone for being here I just want to say it's been 13 years since I finished my MFA here and between then and now I've been other places parts of other workshops and you know studied with other poet professors but as more time passes I've really sharply come to understand how formative these really quick 2 years at Cornell were all these years the critics that have kind of stuck in my brain are my Cornell teachers when I write I hear Alice Fulton say maybe that ending could be different or they need more of the good strange in my lines when I write I try to imagine earning can the claims radiant smile and if I'm lucky make him jump up out of his seat a little bit a right to make Phyllis Janowitz laugh and to have Deborah Tom remind me that sometimes excuse me the most important thing in a poem is what can't be said sorry getting emotional so I still write with their presences and these lessons in mine and I'm so grateful for their influence I have seven poems for you so you can count them as I go you'll know when we're getting toward the end and I'm gonna just kind of run through the chronology of my work I'm going to start with one poem from raw goods inventory even before your elbow knocked over the glass first there were the broken pieces you said don't you think I know what I'm doing to which I replied don't you feel most alone when we're in this together under the Eve wasps are constructing a nests gray paper of spit so much of the body is in their work see how the legs move bending and praying you said don't you think I know when you're trying to change the subject I could make a building out of my despair we could acquire a nice piece of land and sit on it there are thousand blades of grass each one waiting to be claimed as I always say you said if you commit one sin you commit them all to which I said how many absolutes do we have proof of the sky has never looked bluer what is the significance of that it means I might walk out on you yet what you asked nothing I said I said nothing what is there to say anyway except in the sunlight I could see the glass fall even before your elbow knocked it over this is always how it happens certain ideas are never fully formed this is some mess you said to which I said there are lives that go on this way then we went down on our knees and in that manner we began to poems that I read from prop rockery and just as a whole this book is invested in persona and voicing the underdog or the sort of outlier characters and the two that I'll read are ones that take a line from a Shakespeare play as their title and just in case you're taking notes this first one's from Titus Andronicus in thy dumb action well I'd be as perfect it all became wait tolerate the conditions the two and the much it was a drippy mix of sensations a blood for beans mentality from the start we were bustle dup with pomp the flashing of rhetoric the proper rights carried out to a tee I was bottom feeder I was bunk I delivered the sure-footed their forecasts doctor to their sure-footed forecasting needs a win-win for the disingenuous a sore for the mount at ease what matter that the high heavens spoke law that reason relied on the flimsiness of appeal we applauded glassy-eyed with doting intern we were shaven truncated unadorned I went bad shot to mouth elemental assault I was a long line of example not first to be put to show stone set time of the tilling fields row of sharps and picks the in sweep the overfill that which plucks the fowls that stirred the dust sing shifty earth the dirt reminds me of the evil I am this title comes from Othello let me be thought too busy in my fears so it fell out like this went to the edge of daybreak a golden gulf wracked with fog there the earth grew older there the birds tweaked their little riches from the brambly crisscross of Hawthorne it was a Jasper DOMA a mutt formation an incremental hue upon hue I fit myself in word a spleen racked mine to be better and knack for staging the upsets the Empire it turned my innocent side out knaveries plain face and fest up to my brothers they were sap filled to the heart because loves its own embargo a chartered a charted unknown self painted in self same colors because fear flung they squander I made a mock hobby of the elect I played to their heel I planted the itch they sat pups to my lips whelped by the rule of seas and plunder then night turned out day and in short there was an earth cash a backlash and now I'm chained as a liar a flimsy streak with no fire the next few poems come from a third book whether inventions which is out circulating the world right now and this is a book that relies on the history the development of the sciences and it sort of looks a lot at different evolutionary inventions that organisms have undergone or technological inventions of science that are often used for war the when arrow is actually an anagram poem comes from Hamlet's to suffer the slings and arrows titled arrow a war or a slain row of sirs gents grandsons now Garland's again the liars snow a snarl of wording low in the grassland suffering a frost the ONS sharpen furlongs drift furlongs drawn to rift the first on gruffness a wreath torn stringer o this word sings the narrows raw or in word snags organs whole worse laws the songster owl to swan i ungreased rewith thorn rough run the hunt drawl in tear and air fern even as inside as you are you are not yet in ly enough I know you with your folding in the start of the fern frond snail tight curl the whisk and horse tail which unrolls a quick scaled green forming on coils is scrollwork of fiddlehead shepherd's crook which seeks the ground no seed or flower to concentrate on even as in shade and poor soil is thrives only you go the other way tighter not false part of unfurling sink to dirt a deeper bed those roots my love to more for you doing all right up there ok I just thought I'd ask I know it's a long reading this comes after Larkins height windows marriage and this is this is pretty brand new work when I've got nothing to say to you and you've got nothing to say to me then I know we've reached a perfection we've been dreaming of all our televised lives it's a white blank field of no dreams down on me this pew requires as I contemplate the hows and whys of martyrdom and the saintly vows to Christ our Lord shepherding out wolfish urges to skulk in stock the price Li where's this fine green bright day of rest we are one long fall in tandem you and me glossing the heavens with our small cries of we and woe I am cautious mostly you too we've gone deep in this pasture of what lies ahead we've scrutinized every blueness sky Wavecrest diamond shard a comprehensive glass through which we face one another partial self seen so live in Charleston South Carolina now I've been there 77 years and I still very much feel like a tourist and a lot of it's just because of the presence of all the history and recent events that have happened there so I'm trying to find ways to write about it and the best way I can do that is to sort of enter it sideways a little so here's one Charleston poem that I think is successful the feed game the antiquated stench of the town horse piss salt marsh rotting shoes and wood and upward our noses turn ballast packed streets the ships unloading wares to mark it handled and nameless we've got our science minds on tonight we sit inside a clapboard house playing solve for mouse in hospital gloves at the dinner table it's a subpar game so we tweak the rules to monopolize the dice each possible portion is over studied the bends and crooks the ivories severely bright silk drapes torched indigo by shadows the firebrands something muddy ish was dragged across the rug if we find the answer we will serve it on silver to the one cat we love thank you everyone oh it's always such a delight and such a pleasure to have our own students returned because they were our students and then now they're published writers you know the Creative Writing Program offers lectureships paid for in part by the generosity of Philip Rhine Cornell class of 1929 whose will provided our program with an endowment intended to benefit Creative Writing graduate students since 2011 the Philip point Creative Writing fund has enabled us to offer the second years of lectureships to our MFA students but his generosity doesn't stop there the endowment has also made it possible for us to celebrate our students now published writers the endowment allows us to fly the alumni in and recognize their dedication and hard work by awarding them certificates and a $5,000 stipend each our Philip throwing Prize alumni readers are HG Cabrillo before no don't you don't leave now Sally Sally win monoculture hold your applause hold your posture good Adam Oh felon price Bucky and of course Emily Rosco please let's go give him a great remember the books are out out there please buy them the English department lounge 258 for reception a drinks and food and you get to talk to these wonderful people thank you so much thank you this has been a production of Cornell University on the web at Cornell edu

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