Spring has finally sprung here along the shore of New Jersey, a state that probably brings to mind visions of smokestacks, smog, and spray tans for most people. I suppose I used to think the same thing of Jersey, growing up and living half my life in New York, but on a beautiful day like this….Well, there truly is no place like home.
Seagulls swoosh away the daunting, black crows that have been perching in the trees outside of my apartment all winter. Warm 70 degrees tap excitedly on my windows to be welcomed back inside through the screens. Last summer’s flowerpots and planters beg for some love and attention from my balcony. And I leap into the celebration, heart, soul, and each four limbs, bidding a swift adieu to Winter and each of her harsh, cruel lashes.
On to Spring! Life! Poetry! Wait…poetry?
Ah, yes. Just as the tulips and crocuses begin to poke through the earth, and chocolate bunnies and matzoh fill hungry grocery store shelves, Poetry Month makes her appearance, one that I have come to relish each April.
Yesterday, I attended a Writers Conference at William Paterson University, where American journalist, critic, and author (and New York Times obituary writer) Christopher Lehmann-Haupt, as well as four other writers/editors (including poet Christopher Salerno), spoke of revision. More thrilling for me, though, was when poet Timothy Liu (whom I discovered at the same conference last spring and have read avidly ever since) plopped down in the seat right in front of me. Goosebumps! Electricity! During a break, like some trembling teenager approaching a rock star, I croaked out through a huge, toothy smile (and crimson cheeks, of course), “Excuusee meee, would you mind signing?” and held out his collection Say Goodnight. Liu signed eagerly, chatting with me briefly before heading toward the buffet. No one else seemed to notice a great poet among them on line, but I smiled all the way home, new treasure in tow…..
Only to find a surprise package in my mailbox, another unexpected treasure, cloaked in a padded envelope from Georgia: a signed copy of Book of Hours by poet Kevin Young. A special gift from a lovely someone, meant to console me as I grieve and try to make sense of a loved one’s suicide, though she is also suffering heartbreak of her own. A simple act of loving generosity. Poetry in motion.
Spring. Life. Poetry. Indeed. Here in my humble second-floor perch in the Garden State, I sing out a loud, boisterous “Welcome!” to each.
Christopher Salerno, Timothy Liu (Writers Conference – William Paterson University)