Tuesday, February 23, 2010

SOB Stories

Day 14 of the "What are you reading, and why?" project!

I told you about the men's book group in my town that chose my little poetry chapbook, Broken Sonnets, as their December selection. I was delighted and honored, let me tell you!!

What I did not know until recently is that they are a bunch of SOBs. That's what they call themselves! SOB = Society of Books. Here's what the SOBs are reading as the year continues:

March: Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks
April: The English Major by Jim Harrison
May: Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick

I notice at Amazon that Maud Martha is only available from the Marketplace sellers, so it appears to be out of print and harder to find, though I will look for it at Babbitt's, as some of these SOBs will no doubt come in hoping to find it there! Gwendolyn Brooks was a great poet, and I think this is her only novel! Reader reviews suggest it is written poetically, and I'm sure it will be wonderful experience. I hope the SOBs will come back and tell me about it!

My life intersected with Gwendolyn's only glancingly, though we both lived in Chicago. Once I was a finalist and got to read on the Chopin Theatre stage in the Guild Complex annual Gwendolyn Brooks Open Mic competition. What a thrill, made even scarier by the fact that, by lottery, I was the very first reader of the evening. The marvelous poet Lucy Anderton won my set and went on to win the event!!

And once I was asked to contribute poems and play myself, a poet, in an educational television series called Simply Poetry, produced by the media relations department at Illinois State University...because they couldn't afford Gwendolyn Brooks, their first choice! That series would turn up at odd times in random cities on cable television, and I would hear from relatives or friends, "Hey, I saw you on TV." (I never saw it, as I never had cable!) My mom was in all the episodes as the English teacher. I was in just the one, as a guest poet who comes to class.

This past weekend, I got to read again from Broken Sonnets at a house concert event, with poetry, guitar, and dance! I told them what Garrett, one of the SOBs, said about the book when he read and discussed it with his group: "Oh, yes, we found all sorts of things in the poems that you didn't know were there!"

I hope the SOBs will eventually enlighten me!

And be sure to read the enlightening comments from mystery readers after that post, below!


SeƱorHache said...

I was lucky enough to drive Gwendolyn Brooks around Illinois Wesleyan when she came to campus in the late '70s. I was on the Fine Arts Festival Committee at the time, and was given the duty of meeting her at the airport, driving her to her hotel and then escorting her from function to function while on campus. What a thrill! My boss on campus, Kate Romani, let me drive Ms Brooks around in her yellow TR7 instead of my '68 Chevy Impala. "We be way cool".I cherish the autograph she gave me from during this experience.
As to what we men found in your poems, you know we xy's are inscrutable.

Kathleen said...

I am delighted to hear from you! And you can remain as inscrutable as you like!

What a neat experience to meet Ms Brooks!

Kim said...

I heard Gwendolyn Brooks read poetry when I lived in Minnesota. I remember most her reading of "we cool", and how she said she preferred the term "black" to the term "African-American" because, well, it's just more "in your face." A great poet and a great public figure.

Susan said...

I heard Gwendolyn Brooks give a speech and read some of her poetry in the 1980s, when she was a guest speaker at my high school--a tiny all-girls Catholic Academy (with an enrollment of maybe 400 students total), so while I didn't actually meet her one on one, the setting was still fairly intimate. She was brilliant, and I was utterly entranced. I think I fell in love with poetry that day.