Did you ever notice that when question time comes at a University reading the questions are more like little speeches?
Last night I went to the reading of a paper by Susan Howe, who is in my estimation- apart from Gertrude Stein and Gabriella Mistral the most imp0rtant female poet of the 20th Century and one of the top ten most influential poets in the American idiom.
I went to the reading to hear from Professor Howe. I went to hear her unique take on Stevens, who I have never liked much and Jonathan Edwards who I have not liked as well because of his Anti-Catholicism.
Professor Howe's speech was enlightening- and interesting and made me rethink these two New Englanders and what more could you want from a talk?
One of the annoyances of attending readings at prestigious Universities is that the room is filled with other smart people who like to ask long winded questions that seem always to be more about their erudition than what the poet or speaker has just presented. That was the case last night. I chose not to ask a question since I was a guest at the party- and I did not want the Professorate to know that a non member of the club was in their midst (I am sure that my 350 pound frame just blended in among the neck beards and tweed).
But Howe is so clean. I feel the same way about her that I did about Robert Creeley. She is not a faker- she is the real deal- a Poet. She may have made her money in Academia just like Stevens her great muse made his money in insurance but she remains simply a poet- nothing more and that is good company to keep.