I know, I know, a week ago I was writing about how with football season I wouldn’t be able to write about anything interesting for a while, but I guess I should have turned the page on my calendar before I got worried. (Yes I still use a paper calendar…)
Anyway last night I had the thrill of being in the same room with one of my heroes. The Poetry Foundation and the Art Institute invited Seamus Heaney, the Northern Irish Nobel Laureate, to read from his ridiculously large and amazing body of work to celebrate Poetry Day.
He was amazing, I mean if you know anything about me and his work that shouldn’t surprise you, but I don’t just mean that his poetry is amazing, (Though he did read both “Digging” and “Casualty” which basically means I can die happy now) but his manner and style were also just exactly as I wanted them to be.
He read without using the pretentious “poet voice” that makes me cringe, and handled the awkward interstitial moments by sharing lovely anecdotes about his family and just the right amount of background about Northern Ireland and what he called the “shadow time” there.
The only complaint I have about the whole experience is that people should really not get up and ask questions unless they have something to ask. And no you don’t get three questions, and when they announce that they will not be having a book signing, do not get up and ask a man to sign something for you in front of everyone. It’s just awkward, and puts him in a terrible situation. (Also on far less annoyed side note – you don’t have to explain your connection to Ireland to ask Seamus Heaney a question, almost all of them did that – it was very weird.) But if you must get up and take up the speaker and everyone’s time, please try to be an adorable little girl who asks if “his poems have a life of their own.”
And while the man with the three-part question was annoying, the third part “how do you write with such clarity” did allow for one of the best lines of the night from Mr. Heaney, “I don’t know, pure bloody genius.”