>Bread Loaf: Day 6 (Monday)

Ostensibly a rest day, there was no lecture in the morning. Some participants ran in the “Writer’s Cramp Race”–a 2.8 mile run down to the Frost Cabin and back–but I did not. (I did it last year; isn’t that enough?) And lunch was a picnic at the Frost Cabin followed by a talk by John Elder and a tour of the cabin. I skipped the talk and tour, since I’d done those last year, and instead continued reading for workshop on Tuesday.

In the afternoon we had a reading by three fellows: poet Oni Buchanan, whose cryptographic poetry is fun and interesting and surprising; Katharine Noel, whose novel about a teenage girl’s psychotic break seems quite dark; and Cheryl Strayed, whose novel Torch, about a woman dying of cancer, is dark in a different way.

In the evening, fellow Rachel DeWoskin read from her memoir, Foreign Babes in Beijing, which was funny, but I didn’t get the sense that it attempted to be a very deep analysis of life in China (although I recognize I’m pretty hard to please on this subject and others, who don’t have first-hand experience there, might feel differently). And then the top of the bill for the evening: Mark Doty. Doty read several striking poems and also read a long excerpt from a new prose book that will be out in early 2007 called Dog Years. The book is about life with two aging dogs, but it seems to be an excuse to meditate on a number of big issues. It sounded terrific and I plan to get it when it comes out.

It was nice to have a lighter day as we prepare for the final push.

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  1. >I saw Rachel DeWoskin when she was at BU’s Creative Writing poetry group. I didn’t know that she was writing a book, but you are right, Foreign Babes is funny but without insight, though she had great connections in China then.


  2. >Readers will learn things about China in DeWoskin’s book that they won’t anywhere else. You seem to have a very particular taste in the matter of things Chinese that you don’t with other subjects; attempting to say something-anything-about China would seem to be the one punishable offense in your Bread Loaf cosmos. (I didn’t see anyone singled out for an unoriginal presentation, or a ponderous one, or one overlong for its subject matter, or one that was derivative, etc., etc., anywhere else in your blog, though I’ll confess I haven’t made it through the whole thing.)

  3. >As I said, I’m especially hard to please on this subject, because I’ve spent so much time in China. I’m sure most people will enjoy Rachel’s book–indeed, the reading was received extremely well and she sold many books and I had a very pleasant time talking with her afterwards. Furthermore, I haven’t read the book. No doubt we can attribute my slightly negative reaction to jealousy and/or sour grapes!

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