Our first reading this year featured Mary Ruefle (my poetry goddess/mama) and Michael Burkard (her husband). They asked if they could adopt me. I said yes! The reading was held on campus, in Cafe Anna, and I’ve never seen it more packed with students, faculty, and members of the community. Standing room only, folks. Mary read new, unpublished poems and the title essay from her new collection My Private Property, which was about shrunken heads and made me cry. I wanted to kiss everyone around me, I was so in love with the world. We found out Michael is secretly a songwriter, and he performed Langston Hughes poems set to original melodies as well as reading some of his own work.
After we finished the wine and cheese and wore ourselves out with socializing, we went to our traditional post-reading dinner at Positive Pie where we shared some more time with Mary and Michael. Mary told us about her time as a groundskeeper and about her little “apricot-colored” lamb-like dog.
Michael also spent some time with us before the reading, sharing insight about his process, the publishing world, and some collages he’s been working on.