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ELLISTON POET, R.I.P. – part 4 [by Lesley Jenike]
I want to preface the story I’m about to tell you with these two small but important provisos: 1. Now that I own my own car, I’ll happily give a lift to any number of fake poets, drunk, high or sober. 2. Any resemblance to people living or dead is purely accidental. Let me explain. I was used to being poor and in a constant state of terror, so after I earned my M.F.A. at OSU, I figured, what’s five more years of graduate school? I was coming home to Cincinnati to get my Ph.D. and I would be studying poetry at the University of Cincinnati, home to the renowned Elliston Poet-in-residence program, a program that brought Robert Lowell and John Ashbery to the Queen City where Lowell, as legend has it, went nuts in Burnet Woods, and where I would eventually go nuts in Cheviot (only not as epically). C. D. Wright Photo: MacArthur Foundation And this was 2003, before Google became, like, a thing. It was my first year in the program and my fellow students Sophia (now my colleague at the Columbus College of Art and Design) and Kevin and I had been given the honor of retrieving C.D. Wright, our Elliston Poet-in-Residence, from the airport, but I had only one picture of C.D. Wright and it was a precarious likeness at best. I had some basic information about Wright’s flight from some professor or other, but because this was before Google was, like, a thing, and because I’d somehow managed to leave the house without any contact number for any professor who might know anything about anything, Sophia, Kevin and I found ourselves blinking up at Arrivals to find that Wright’s flight had been Delayed for many, many hours. We weren’t sure what to do except wait and hope we’d be paged over the intercom or that miraculously my professor had my cell phone number, which would’ve been supremely helpful, but weird. So we waited. We sat for a while at the coffee place. One or more of us might’ve had coffee. We thumbed through magazines at the magazine stand and I remember Kevin looking at Travel and Leisure and there was a woman in an American flag bikini on a yacht on the cover and I remember him looking at it like it was something from another planet. Meanwhile the flight’s arrival time was getting later and later. Do we leave? What if C.D. Wright landed and no one was there to greet her? Oh but we had so many papers to write and whole chapters of Jameson to read and if airports are purgatorial on a good day, we’d arrived at some supreme limbo in which neither Godot nor C.D. Wright would ever, ever come to plug up our muzak-addled ears with Good News. We moved from a kind of organized, controlled anger (how could they not have given us a contact number?) to the sort hysteria poets are prone to when abandoned to...
Posted Sep 25, 2013 at
The Best American Poetry
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