Anne Carson in Hollywood, Forever

Last night Anne Carson read at the Masonic Temple on the grounds of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. The event was promoted as a reading for her latest work, Nox, but she read from several other works. Although I’d have liked to hear more from Nox, the reading did not disappoint. She started off with an essay that was lyric, meditative and eerie. Then she read some sonnets, some of her Short Talks, and a script from a talk show she’s created, then she read from Nox. The script was hilarious. The talk show host’s name is Crap and he is interviewing Helen of Troy. Helen, in the interview, calls Homer a “fuckfox,” which really made me giggle. Her work interests me in its ability to balance in both a mythic space and a contemporary, often snarky or funny space.

What a pleasure to spend an evening in her presence, in the beautiful hall of the Masonic Temple, on the un-spooky, palm tree-laden grounds of the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Glad also to have gone with my friend Lan, another writer in my MFA program. She was a lovely date.

Many people don’t think of Los Angeles as having much of a literary community, that the “writers” in LA are all screen writers, hoping to make it big in the business. I am happy to say, that despite the half truth in that, that there is a thriving literary community here. We often have wonderful writers visiting town (last year W.S. Merwin did a reading at USC, which I was unable to attend, but at least he was here!). Certainly my MFA program attempts to bring in good people with their Visiting Artist programming. Last semester actually had some lovely visitors: Ariana Reines, Allison Hedge-Coke and Kate Zambreno. Sometimes I do wish there were a few bigger-named contemporary poets visiting. I wish I could afford to bring Dana Levin (my undegrad poetry mentor), Michael Dickman, Matthew Dickman and Matthew Zapruder (to name but a few). Perhaps they’ll roll through town of their own accord some day in the near future.

But for now I will be satisfied, indeed thrilled, with Anne’s reading last night. She is one of the best writers of our time, and I am fortunate to have heard her, met her and received her autograph in my copy of Nox!

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