Underwater Panther has been in the world a year now, and I have three events to celebrate it this fall. The first is the Mid-South Book Festival in Memphis this weekend.
I’ve had the chance to read in Memphis twice before, first at a launch for The Pinch and then a few years later in the Impossible Language Poetry series, so returning feels friendly. And that’s good, because a week after my last reading this spring, my father passed away as I sat by his side.
Alzheimers was so horrible, I thought grieving his death would be easier. People have been more gentle to me about this than I’ve been to myself. I’ve found myself trying to handle grief as I’ve approached any challenge in my life: identify the steps to master the situation; do what needs to be done well and ahead of schedule; check that off and move on. But grieving doesn’t work that way.
So I find myself feeling lost, which isn’t the best way to feel when thinking of speaking in front of a group of people. But then again maybe it is. Art, and love, those things don’t eliminate chaos. They just illuminate beauty so that if we look, for a brief moment, we might understand.
Saturday at 1 p.m., I’ll be discussing a few poems from Underwater Panther in a session called “The Real Narrative,” with George Hodgman, Daniel Connolly, and Cathryn J. Prince, moderated by John Bensko, a diverse panel offering a lot of possibility.