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Poetry in a small town…and a sample worker poet
The other night, I rolled two miles downtown to a poetry reading—it was a lovely near-solstice night. Now that I’ve traded academia for a disability “retirement” in a small town, the peripheral ephemera of poetry (well, except blogging) is not so accessible to me.
We have a college here, but its small poetry community is aligned with the avant-garde and generally does not cross-pollinate with the poets of the town. So my life is quite different now.
The reading was given by my friend Tim Kelly, on the occasion of his new book, Extremities, published by Oberlin. I think it’s his fourth book.
Normally, a poet of his stature would be ensconced at a small university. But instead he has chosen to work as a physical therapist, which has affected his presence in the buzzing ego-driven world of poetry. I’ve been thinking about Travis’s post about worker poets. Tim has been fortunate because he has a skill that is in demand, one that also has allowed him to take time off to write, teach, and raise his sons…then jump back into working at no detriment to his livelihood.
We have about 30,000 people in this town, about 30 will show up at a poetry reading if the poet beats the bushes and rouses his/her friends. People often ask me if I miss teaching, and I do, for the conversation about poetry, for the sheer interest in it, which is lacking in the greater world.
Or sometimes I think I need a larger city. But even amidst this relative quiet I find there are a large number of intrusions. So I don’t thinkI could handle any more distractions or temptations.
But I envied D.A.’s access to graffitti.