Saturday Dec 02

Hoppenthaler Year5b I’m worn the hell out. It’s not only the constant political and religious ignorance and violence, but that would suffice. It’s also been a long year of stepfatherhood (Danny’s adolescence came in like a lion, etc.), and it wasn’t an easy year at work either. Do more with less; do more with nothing; do more assessing; do more paperwork; have more meetings; serve on more committees. Fatigue.

I’ve just finished teaching a summer class and will leave, shortly, for a few days in West Virginia to visit family. The flooding disaster that has just occurred there, flooding that—at last count—has killed 25, has weighed heavily on my mind, as WV is important to me. My wife and stepson were born there. I lived and taught there for years, co-edited its longest-running literary journal, Kestrel, spent many happy times in Morgantown and throughout the state, and now do my thing for this WV-based project. It’s a state that can’t seem to find its way, horribly addicted as it is to opioids and coal and the backward thinking of its politicians and robber barons. It needs hope. There’s power in hope. One touch can fill you. As I write this, more heavy rains are expected. If you want to help the poor, suffering folks in WV, you can. For those who want to make a monetary donation, the Dollars for Disaster West Virginia Flood Relief project is working with American Red Cross – West Virginia and West Virginia Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster to accept contributions.


After our trip to WV, my wife and I will attend a concert by Modest Mouse and then I’ll be off to Little Switzerland, NC to teach at the Wildacres Writing Workshop for a week. Then we’re off for a week to visit more family in Florida. Somewhere in there, I hope to rest.

As I wrote earlier, it’s been a tiring year; however, that’s not to say that there hasn’t been fun along the way. Since my latest book, Domestic Garden (Carnegie Mellon UP), was published, I have given well over 30 readings in 10 states. I really like making these appearances, as hard as the travel can be. So many interesting things happen; there are such amazing sights to be seen. There is also the camaraderie of other writers and the time I get to spend with students who actually care about literature and the making of poems.

Take this, for example. I did a swing through upstate New York a couple of months ago. One stop was at lovely Wells College in the Finger Lakes Region. The fine young poet, Dan Rosenberg, told me that I was to have a warm-up reader, an undergrad majoring in Women's and Gender Studies and Psychology and minoring in Creative Writing. It made me happy to hear that a student’s work would be part of the evening but, truth be told, I wasn’t expecting that Hannah Taggart’s work would be so mature, lyrical, astute, and vivid, that she would be so good. She has the gift, and I hope that she will stick with it. If there' any hope for us, it's in the hands of the smart, enlightened young people like this.

When I read her poems, the fatigue goes away, some, and I feel a little hope. Read these poems. "One touch could fill you."