No place like it, really. But who am I kidding? It can be more than a place, of course.
I just spent five days in New York, another sort of home. My childhood sense of place, as well as college and twice I lived in The Big Apple, for a blink of the mid- 1980s and again, for larger chunk of the 1990s. I left just before we looped Prince’s “1999” until we thought we might lose our minds.
So here is what my most recent trip to NYC was all about (recap): A reading at Unnameable Books in Brooklyn. Amy King and Bud Smith both slayed it, I met friend Andrea for dinner prior and Bud’s wife Rae and there was a nice turn-out, and the evening was windy but chill:
After the reading, a smaller group of about ten of us headed to a local watering hole in Brooklyn, and sat at outdoor picnic tables. I had a blast (reminiscing, mostly) with Cindy List, Valentin Ortolaza, Michael Thompson, Andrea Falkenstein, Gessy Alvarez (and her sister), Jamez Chang, Bud Smith, Rae (Spout) Buleri, Julie, Robb Todd and Emily, and Russell Dillon. What a cool mix of writers and artists:
On Thursday, my pal David and I went to Jones Beach for the 1,000,000th time. It never gets old. Nor do we:
On Friday, we left for Omega Institute, where we made a detour for lunch and Bee Cake! Intoxicated by sugar:
Friday evening until Sunday I took a course called Spirit and Craft of Poetry with Richard Blanco. He is the fifth inaugural poet, Obama selected him for his 2012 inauguration where he read his poem, “For All of Us, One Today.”
Richard is smart, insightful, sensitive, funny. He lead us mostly through workshop, each of the 25 poets chose one poem, and received feedback. The bulk of the weekend was taken up by this exercise. My pal, Michael Gillan Maxwell was there, and another writer Gloria who we’d both met at Omega in 2010 (another workshop, another time). We discussed some craft tools like Imagery and Figurative Language, Show Don’t Tell, Rhythm and Iambic Pentameter, and were guided to two writing exercises at night: Why I Write (prompted by Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones) and also My Obsessions. Both were very effective. And we read some excellent poems like “A Blessing,” by James Wright, “My Papa’s Waltz” by Theodore Roethke, and “One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop. My favorite moments of the workshop came at the very end. We witnessed Richard reading three of his monumental pieces: “Betting on America,” “Looking for the Gulf Motel,” and “For All of Us, One Today.”
The return to the city was swift and fun. I was off to LaGuardia, David off to a life-altering surgery (he’s healing magnificently!) Then, home again, home again, jiggety jig:
What does HOME mean to you?