After a breakfast of sausage and eggs (oatmeal for the vegans and vegetarians), attendees went to the little theatre for a lecture by Jane Hirshfield. She gave a lecture titled, “Close Readings: Windows”, which quite literally was a close reading of several poems.
Ms. Hirshfield discussed the openings of these poems, the moments when a window opened in them, through which the reader looked out on the world from within the construction/edifice of the poem. The apex, the real window, have you, in the lecture was Hirshfield’s comparison of the poems “Naming of Parts” by Henry Reed and “How to Kill” by Keith Douglas, both war poems, Hirshfield described as two buckets drawing from the same well. The two poems were about aspects of war. Not only because the two poems are so startling good, but also because of Hirshfield’s close reading and explanation of them, it would be worth it for anyone to go out and find these two poems and compare them.
One of the great things about Breadloaf is that following the workshop, the instructor of the workshop, Amy Hempel in the case of Eugene and myself, sits down individually with the writer to discuss the story and the discussion in the workshop. So Eugene talked to me about the conversation with Amy Hempel, she gave him a little closer reading of his great story about a boy from Nepal, who had been relocated from a refugee camp to here in the United States. Eugene said Amy recommended a few books and talked to him about what else he was working on.
After lunch, Daniel Jones from The New York Times gave a twenty minute lecture, then answered questions about his column, “Modern Love.” He advised audience members on how to submit to the column, and what should be submitted to the column. The gist of his lecture was that he really has no rules. He’s up for anything contemporary about love. He did advise reading the column before submitting.
Afterward, award winners at this year’s conference read from their work.
To finish off the night, Rebecca Solnit followed Lan Chang, and read a couple of essays, one about the influence of old movie theatres, titled, “Eyes of the Gods.” If that’s not the correct title, please blog back. The second essay, the title of which I have misplaced, told of her experience as an activist in the eighties, protesting a nuclear test site. They were good essays, but the most extraordinary thing was after her final words. She took a full tumbler of water, as the audience applauded, and gulped it down, the least self conscious. Most artist accept applause with a nod of the head or a quick farewell wave. Ms. Solnit gulped down water, as if the audience wasn’t reacting to her reading, but cheering her to chug that water. I expected it to turn into a performance piece, but no, she finished the water and sat down.