Poets read work influenced by Peace Corps, NPR, springtime
Published: Friday, October 28, 2005
Updated: Monday, February 28, 2011 18:02
10/28/05 - Yesterday, poet Christopher Arigo and poet/nonfiction writer Jacqueline Lyons read selected works as part of the READ/WRITE series at 210 Flagg Road at 4 p.m. Arigo's poetry and poem reviews have appeared in many journals. He also won the 2001-2002 Transcontinental Poetry Prize. Lyons poetry and essays have appeared in numerous journals also. Her essay, "Too Nice" was cited as a notable essay in The Best American Essays 2004.
Arigo has always been interested in writing and loves to read, he said.
"Writing has just always been a presence," he said. He read from his poetry collection, "In the Archives." He first became a "big fan of card catalogs," because of the furniture and this fascination extended to archives in general. Arigo said he stopped listening to National Public Radio when it began to dictate the topics of his writing.
Yesterday, he read a poem inspired by a friend of film studies and finished his reading on a lighthearted note with spring-inspired poems. He is not a fan of the current cold and gloomy weather.
Lyons began her reading with two poems, including "Talking with Toca," from The Way They Say Yes Here. Lyons taught in the Peace Corps and this poem reflected interactions with a particular student. As Lyons taught English to her students, they continually spoke in the present tense. Lyons said she found this tendency interesting and wrote this poem based on Toca, the student, with present tense throughout. The poem spoke of Toca's cultural ways of communicating to Lyons and the two of them walking and talking together. Toca decided he and Lyons should have tea and talk once they reached her house, in the poem.
Lyons also talked from her nonfiction book of her Peace Corps unit drinking. They drank in order to celebrate occasions, a few times late at night, or just as a distraction. Women were unable to purchase liquor in Africa, so the men from the unit were sent into town to bring back the liquor. The members of the unit were from various countries such as Uganda and Canada.
Lyons wrote about the Peace Corps member she replaced. From what she was told, the woman shaved her head once and it was described as, "very pink." Some Peace Corps members said they feared the bald woman.
As Lyons was being driven to the border, to return to the United States, it was a bittersweet moment. In her nonfiction novel, she wrote, "Though I am leaving, I feel I am the one left behind." Lyons worded a common feeling that arises when we embark on a new journey.
Both Arigo and Lyons advised young writers to "just keep writing." One should write continuously and frequently, and should not worry about publication. Reading and writing go hand in hand on the way to becoming a writer.