Reunions and Such
A view of the grasslands of Eastern Oregon.
I headed back to Eastern Oregon with my family this past weekend for my 20th class reunion. I've mentioned this before--I was the senior class president of my high school. Tell your children never to run for this office, since they will be expected to run their reunions long after they've graduated.
Anyway, it was a well-attended reunion. My graduating class consisted of about 190 alumni. Of the 190 alums, about 61 of them attended the reunion events. That's about 30% attendance, and I knew of several folks who chose not to attend, even though they were in town.
The whole weekend I was struck by our various trajectories--so many of us left the town. A handful of us stayed within the vicinity. It was interesting to hear our narratives, hear about our families, and see how much we've changed or how much we've stayed the same. I know this much--it's clear to me why I left the place. It's funny that the reunion comes the same year my new book about this place of my youth finds its way into the world of books. A strange narrative indeed.
I had forgotten how desolate the landscape was--prairie grasses, dust devils, a brown film of dust on the horizon. Oh, and the heat . . . the heat was terrible.
So, back to what I was talking about in the previous blog post--I was talking about this long poem, Requiem for the Orchard.
It was taking up residence in the second section of my manuscript. I immediately perceived that it was creating weight in that second section that wouldn't allow subsequent sections to recover. It was just a tonal black hole. So I made the decision to cut each section and distribute each section throughout the manuscript, calling each poem "Requiem" and calling the title of the book Requiem for the Orchard.
I think it was a necessary move. A reader, after having read a long poem with a fairly strong tone, might not be as compelled to move forward in the manuscript.
I can't believe it's already Week #4 of my 6 week summer quarter. My oh my.