OK! I have a few days to catch up on. Let's start with Friday.
First thing in the morning I said goodbye to Uncle Brian and Ellen and kids, and then took the metro downtown. My first interview was with Ryan Walker, who lives in the Trinidad neighborhood — over a mile from any stop on the train. So I lugged all my gear and baggage there on foot, which wouldn't have been such an exertion if it weren't such a miserably hot day. Ryan's place was in the process of being rehabbed, so there was a lot of torn-up sheetrock and plastic drape stuff around. The interview went pretty well, I think. Ryan's work deliberately employs the strategies of both ends of the D.C. poetry community continuum — i.e. disjunctive language-ey work on one end and funny discursive stuff on the other. He's a chameleon in that respect, or a Zelig. Any number of poetry crowds could get something out of his writing.
Next up: nothing. I took a bus to Georgetown and sat around for about five hours, just sending emails and doing research on Rod Smith. I had a pretty terrible but pretty satisfying bowl of chili at some bar, and used the wi-fi at Barnes and Noble. Around 4:00, I headed over to Bridge Street Books, which Rod manages. It's a legendary place, and I was happy to finally make it. I spent about an hour looking around, and bought a few books to read on the bus. Here they are:
Linh Dinh - Some Kind of Cheese Orgy
Jed Rasula - Tabula Rasula
Robert Duncan - Roots and Branches
William Carlos Williams - Asphodel, That Greeny Flower and other Love Poems
Roland Barthes - Writing Degree Zero
Aristotle - Poetics
I'm revisiting those last two for the sake of the question-writing process. I've been trawling all over for topics — chatting with friends on the phone, listening to old recordings, reading interviews and reviews, etc. — and every little bit helps.
After Rod finished work, he drove us back to his apartment for the recording. He read a bit of new Flarf stuff, as well as his series "The Spider Poems" in its entirety. We talked about poetry in D.C., his bookstore, and the arc of his career. Mel Nichols got home toward the end of the interview, but because of my bus schedule we didn't have to time to record a show. Nonetheless, she was quite warm and interested in what I'm doing, and we had a pleasant chat in the few minutes before I had to leave. I'll be in D.C. again soon, I hope — so I'll get her on tape eventually.
I then proceeded to the bus station by taxi, and got there just in time. The ride to Athens was 13 hours overall (counting a stopover), and it gave me my first taste of the Greyhound sleeping experience. It went relatively smoothly, I suppose — which is to say I avoided any serious neck pain. I slept lightly and in short spells, so I spent a lot of time sitting up while the rest of the passengers slept. At around 5:30 a.m., I woke up and looked out the window for a bit. The sun was just rising, and everything was a little misty (or muggy). So we made a right turn under a train bridge, and on the other side I saw my last name in big blue letters — "McLaughlin" — rise before me. Turns out there's a car dealership called McLaughlin Ford in Sumter, North Carolina.
I'll make a separate post for Athens, so keep your lids up for another one later today.