Thursday, August 07, 2003

Whereas my postcard exchange with Del happened during the dog-day month of July. Del's postcards were going to my house, so I didn't get them until the evenings, but I was usually writing my postcards to him during the day on campus; my trip to Chicago, while allowing the postcards to travel a more respectable distance, meant I didn't read any of his postcards for about a week.

So the effect was that I felt more like we were writing in isolation, each pursuing our own projects and giving each other daily glimpses of it. In fact, both of us seemed to take the opportunity to try new things. Del sent me a number of what he called "novel remixes," collages drawing on materials from an experimental novel he's working on. My obsession became something I asked in a poem mid-month--

I'm starting to wonder why I can't ever tell you
Anything about myself

--followed by various exercises in self-revelation, some ironic, some not.

But in reading together we seemed to be in sync, egging each other on. Humor has always been the best quality, to me, of Del's poetry; I'm always amazed at how consistently funny he is, even in his saddest poems, and his reading style emphasizes this, blithe and cheerful even through the sharpest enjambments. I realized that I had been responding to that element in his writing all month and trying to be funny myself, and then I tried to pick the funniest pieces of all for reading; so the feeling I got was of two comics in a laugh-off, each trying to top the other, but all in good fun. The lights had miraculously come up midway through the second set so I could actually see the audience, too, and the emergency bar flashlight helped me see what I was doing.

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