>Friday began with Mark Doty’s lecture, “Whitman in Tears.” Ted Genoways from Virginia Quarterly Review was visiting and Mark began by noting that he had written an article for a special Whitman issue of VQR but realized that he had more to say. He spoke about, among other things, Whitman’s moments of self-doubt after the publication of Song of Myself, and where it can be found in the great poet’s work.
Then I had a group meeting with agent Stuart Bernstein (who represents Elena Viramontes, among others). In the afternoon I attended Anontya Nelson’s class, “Autobiography in Fiction,” which wasn’t really about autobiography. The main text for the discussion was John Barth’s “Lost in the Funhouse” which isn’t autobiographical in the sense that its plot necessarily tracks something that actually happened in Barth’s life. Rather, Toni was interested in examples of how the author is present in a work, as Barth constantly intrudes in that story. It was another provocative example of work that bends reality, and I was glad to have a list of examples to go back to.
The afternoon reading was by fiction writers Eric Puchner (who read a funny excerpt from one of his stories) and Ursula Hegi, who read from a new novel that she has recently completed and turned into her editor.
The weather was nice for our “gala reception” on the Treman House lawn (think cocktails and hayrides). And then the evening reading was outstanding: poet Thomas Sayers Ellis, who was both funny and thought-provoking, and fiction writer Robert Boswell who read part of a novella–with amazing comic timing.
The end is near . . .