Thursday, October 17, 2013

Jane Hirshfield's fizzy water.

Jane Hirshfield and Kay Ryan both were reading poetry at this Litquake event: Poetry and Science: A Shared Exploration. It's not easy navigating to the UCSF Mission Bay Campus from the Outer Richmond, especially if you were born with no sense of direction. But it was so worth it!

By the time I got there they wouldn't let me in. They said the fire marshall would only allow 150 people in the auditorium. I was the 151st. So my name went to the top of a waiting list.

I stood behind the velvet rope and watched the first 150 people help themselves to wine and cheese crackers. Needless to say I was absolutely starving. Thirsty, too.

After 30 tense minutes they let 50 more of us into the auditorium if we promised to sit up front on the floor, and up the sides against the wall--and if we made sure to leave space for people to exit swiftly in case of an emergency. So I sprinted right past the food table and raced down to the front row and sat on a step by a chair on the aisle. JANE HIRSHFIELD said to me, "Sit here!" She removed her bags and briefcase from the chair on the aisle.

I said, "Are you ... Are you sure?" She said, "Yes, I'm sitting HERE," and pointed across the aisle where oh my god all the other poets were slouching against the wall. There were men poets, too, but I don't remember their names.

Halfway through the program, the woman sitting next to me said, "Are you good friends with Jane Hirshfield?" I said, "Pardon?" She said "Are you and Jane Hirshfield good friends?" I said, "No! Not at all!"

I thought Jane looked a tiny bit like Janis Joplin. The whole thing did feel kind of like a rock concert. Kay, on the other hand, looked like my Uncle Joe. Jane was the epitome of kind and Kay was the epitome of cool (and fun).

Once the program started Jane sat up on the stage, as did the other poets and scientists. She had left a bottle of fizzy lime-flavored water by my chair, so I took it home. I'm going to take it to my writing group next Thursday and pass it around. We'll each take a sip from it and then write a poem.

Jane Hirshfield and Kay Ryan