Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Advancing age, in my case, shows up largely in the increased discomfort of cross-country travel. Got back at an ungodly hour last night from Boise, Idaho, after I don't know how many hours of airplanes & airports, & am still recovering. An extremely pleasant visit: I'd been invited to talk on a subject of my choosing, revolving somehow around the LZ biography (which a grad seminar – mirabile dictu! – has actually been reading). So I delivered another stab at the next book-in-progress (in-gestation?) on the genre itself of literary biography: excursuses into Richard Ellmann's dealings with Joyce's childhood, LZ's correspondence with Edward Dahlberg, John Ruskin's (non-) burning of JMW Turner's erotica. (Alas, I couldn't get any decent scans of the latter, so I decided that without naughty drawings by Turner, it just wasn't worth the trouble to work up a PowerPoint presentation.)

Yes, Undine – it never gets easier, at least for me. That goes for lectures as well as classes: nervous hiccups in my voice, twitchy, tic-like movements behind the podium, an occasional adrenaline-fuelled three-pace stride back & forth. And always that reedy, twit-ish voice echoing in my ears. Only consolation is that it's probably more painful for the auditors than for me. But visiting the seminar afterwards was pretty much straight pleasure. Janet Holmes presides over a bright, talky bunch – a group refreshingly attuned to the tactile qualities of the poems under discussion: more than cool to hear (& pitch in with) full vocal readings of "A"-9 and "4 Other Countries."

I fear that regular blogging won't resume for at least a couple more weeks. Right now (among everything else, including – hey, I almost forgot! – my actual classes) I'm putting the finishing touches on the Ruskin-Pound-Hill piece for next week's Louisville carnival. And when I'm back from that, then I can actually catch my breath, remember my kids' names, & read a few books of poetry – oh, to hell with poetry: I've got two China MiĆ©ville novels that really want reading, & Robert Richardson's really incredible biography of William James.

1 comment:

undine said...

When you get that book on literary biography done, I want to read it--and if you wanted to post ideas about it here, I'd love to read them.