thank you Tom it's um it's great to sort of always be at your home institution and Dana sort of thing and in that spirit my newest book my Paris year which just came out actually this month which just wouldn't have happened if I had think if I hadn't been a Georgia Tech I worked on a digital poetry project with my colleague Jay bolter in the Wesley center for new media here and a colleague of ours was Sweden Marion Barry which took us to Paris in 2007 and this book grew out of that and something else that grew out of that was a second digital poetry project that I worked on with at that time are an undergraduate she's now in our graduate program Jennifer Vandergriff he's sitting out there in the audience and she did this project as part of the presidential undergraduate research award program here and I promised her when she worked on it that she get a real showing of it and it's actually the prologue poem to my Paris ear and so I'm going to show that first and then I'm going to read from the collection Natasha may be a cliche black trench coat sunglasses painted horses that Gallup the length of an orange scarf under the tail of her hair she shows no sense of urgency yet seems intent on a destination I catch a glimpse of her just a reflection in a shop window newly Amin then the tests on the moon herself another kind of ruin an indescribable geometry no angle an ambiguous but behind the bazaar is a theorem that without her I can approve I spend in an ordinate enough time here wondering how our students do the things that they do they are amazing and it is a pleasure to be able to work with them so Thank You Jennifer as i said this some collection came out of being in Paris it just so happened that I turned 40 that year and it seemed like an important milestone and so I don't think that that many of the poems require much explanation so I'm just going to read a few of them and then I'm going to end by reading a couple from the new collection that's coming out in June which is called sassing which is a little bit more reflective of my Southern heritage I'm actually a native Atlantan we're kind of rare these days so you'll get to Paris and Atlanta all in one night my Paris your duh Paris is vertigo giddy my first night I rushed headlong to marvel at the lights chasing up and down the Eiffel Tower rocking side to side on said rubber boats swirling round the Luxembourg pond no wonder I found myself engulfed after hanging my head in the hotel tub to wash the sensation the awe the cafe smoke from my hair my equilibrium shaken no way to write myself no way to stop the inevitable but necessary purged by morning what I brought with me has been eradicated day two is different I sit on the balcony watch a tourist unload baggage nibble a warm baguette fixtures at plastic lychee station a senior stranger held a porcelain double sink balanced on his right shoulder fingers worked by the installation grooves tunnel light pouring through the drain I want to believe he is on his way to Santa pappadeaux to join Duchamp a ghost perched on his own and shizzle sculpture at midnight I sit in a cafe with the woman who tells me she will steal away my story now her own fashion another piece of art from these words I have spilled while emptying our pitcher the same wine flowing through us soon just apparitions on the metro my Paris New Earth wha Bruce Willis held the door for me at Chanel a story that should stand on its own merits or lack thereof except that later at dinner after i regale everyone with my famous person's story Martina begins to discuss the beauty of Notre Tom the church not the woman except it really is about the woman because what we are questioning is spirituality itself and I say even a self-professed atheists should be moved but Andrew here's even a sock wearing atheist and we laugh except that there's an air of something unsaid something perhaps about what it means to be moved so J and Maria make a joke about Coco Von Oh is sounding pornographic which we all agree not being French is appropriately French except coke is in our language the Americans sound being a large part of what seems illicit which isn't the same as necklaces something we are all trying to be but failing to do particularly exceptional when you consider the words are our vocation if this were one century earlier the men would escort us to our hotel leave us alone with our prayers head for mo mantras powerade dunno hold the door open for sin instead I order another round of kir thrust my right pinky into the candle flame shake loose my hair find any temptation entirely my own I will say this about this poem I'm sort of obsessed with the j peterman catalogue which in any of you ever actually seen as a pure make a blog it's full of things that no one really needs but what's i'm using about Dickerman catalogue is the descriptions of the things in the day Peterman catalog the little stories that go along with it and so this actually has an epigraph from the j peterman catalogue and it's called marie antoinette nightshirt number 10 19 price $39 epigraph no lace no embroidery new google cure pima cotton the best there is french white crisp and a cent for button placket band collar shirt tell him sleep in it walk along beaches in it visit a secluded meadow in it j peterman the catalog copy was alluring the price reasonable enough for a 23 year old was suction on her mind innocent maybe back then I wasn't confident enough to use the simple things in my favor instead I should splurged brought a body pink lace negligee that would have cloned perfectly to the curves of my body shirttail hymns I would learn better in the morning when wearing only Oxford cloth button down i let my lover make breakfast in a reality where I traded fairy tale for sang-hwa 17 years ago I was pretending a kind of sensual simplicity of course it failed me just as her sigh failed Marie and politics aside don't we all wish she'd had more time for the fantasy that might have been her life so as I said I also spent a fair amount of time thinking about southern poetry and looking for southern poetry and there's a very famous book store in Paris called Shakespeare and company and I was in there and of course looking as i always am for southern poetry this is called on finding southern poetry in Paris since my friend is so much taller I focus on the lower shelves the poetry section only a cramped corner a surprise since Shakespeare and company is renowned for its writers so many of them poets I had expected to find more than the customary single column as always I look for southern poetry in m's I scan for Maddox Everett hope to find his rare song book instead I discover a thin volume from Miller apropos when I remember that Paris is also a city in Texas and devoutly Catholic Vassar would probably have liked the view of Notre Dom framed by modernist books stacked either side of the shop entrance for three euro I get the famous ex libris inside the faded front cover and the side of fountain I wait for friends to make final purchases before dinner scratch a quick note home to say despite French pensions I'm still right with my raisin I know that months later if I can sleep deeply enough my dreams will bring me back here which seems like a good way to take you into just a couple few of the the southern poems prologue home for that collection sassing mentioned someone named hester Hester was my great-great grandmother and is a turkey Indian who was stolen when she was a little girl I my great-great-grandfather and one of the things that's interesting about her is it changed her name when she was a little girl and so she lost her cherokee named she never could remember what it was which i always thought was very sad and say this is actually in her voice and it's called Hester speaks listen child to what you imagine i know to the memories you do not have me mind besides setting down creek before the cotton mills wheel began turning the water before the white man stole me from the past and built the covered bridge before I was old enough to know my cherokee named formed for dancing spirits that call me on wind to even without memory I knew I should never cut my hair so I grew it past the hips that birthed a line to you kept it into tight braids I would tie together across my waist the ends hanging loose between my legs thickly woven separate lives three I do not remember how I learned to dance a cup and saucer filled with well water balance on my head how I managed not to steal anything why I did it the first time why I continued for my Christian name was a mistake I'm is selling of Esther another foreign bride she knew her real name pedasi was careful about revealing herself but had memories choices I did not marry a king could not save my people five when you dance child do you feel me I've watched you spin wildly and afraid and ashamed unaware it is me you hear my tough cup tipping over whispering a new name for the rhythms you cannot resist so there are a number of in the Sassen collection there a number of themes the one of them is and I took fear of titles from really famous poems written by southern male poets because for a very long time all the poets who published you or southern were in fact male and my dissertation is actually sort of deals with the issue of why there don't seem to be many women and I didn't want to say that they were wrong because they weren't wrong I just wanted to say that if I actually wrote it that it might be different and so this is actually a takeoff of jane stickies very famous poem made a sermon to the women in Fillmore County Georgia from a woman preacher lead in the Baptist Church that's the whole long title and I apologize for my singing voice I will sing a tiny bit and my poem is called made a sermon straight up which you probably ought to know about the Dickey poem is about a young woman whose father finds her messing around with a night in ER and motorcycle writer and he strings her up when the barn beats her half to death and when she finally gives free she kills him and then she rides off naked into the night her cycle with the guy so you know the kind of thing the next all the time so at least in Homer County I don't know so I'm from up in those parts my mom's family so it starts with an epigraph from the original poem which is Melissa no daughters turn turn no not me not hot enough for firing conversions it was late July the smell of chicken houses drifting through the open windows the church piano string stressed atonal popsicle stick advertise and fans flapping offbeat one side Christ tonight cool in the shade of disseminated the other side the new porch at Ingram's funeral parlor it was a Friday and I was just days short of 16 his name was Bobby and he would leave in another year off to engineer in school his mind always full of pure science but tonight his curiosity had excited my mom into believing that there might finally be a good Christian boy in my future it would only be a matter of weeks before a future film student would come back from Texas the summer with his father full of mystery beyond anything I'd found in church complete with his jazz shoes that may everybody think he was gay I would choose him over Bobby for my homecoming date and his car would break down and we wouldn't get our photo mate at the dance and after I drove him home in my mother's car he would ask if I wanted to fool around and I would say no a few years later we have the same conversation and he would show me in his journal where he wrote that he dreamed I was on fire and the entry would be on the same day my husband doused me with developing fluid and again I would say no so here I was with Bobby in a whitewash spot board country church during the summer revival of the three preachers have been at it for hours and everybody was saying just as I am and the preacher was waving his arms in the air bellowing come Center come home and that's what had happened Wanda church matrons five Bobby and made a beeline for him boy you know the Lord Jesus Christ is your eternal Savior Bobby glanced over his shoulder and I tried to say run the next thing I knew he was up front down on his knees and I couldn't get near him because there was a circle of folks praying over him all I could think was get me out of here I wanted to scream he's a Unitarian but I chose fun an old-time silence all I could feel was my own baptism in the mossy concrete pool out back at the church filled every summer by the local fire department brother Morgan pushing under my dress pinned between my legs so it wouldn't float up then the preacher hollered at Bobby give your heart over to the Lord son eventually they gave up when body couldn't see what they wanted him to see and when we drove home he laughed but I just wanted to cry we fooled around for a few weeks but it never got past third and then I dumped him out of pure shame brother Jim you know damn well there ain't no women preachers in gilmer county and even if there were they wouldn't have to warn young women about lust and murder and riding off into the night naked on a motorcycle man between their knees because that night late in july during my sixteenth year I was just one County over just a few years past my own drowning and the new dry dress for the photos and I could tell you then what I know now for sure you don't need your daddy to string you up in a bar and meet the sin out of you because the sentence worlds like a tornado from the moment you gassed into this world and the only thing that separates men and women is that the women know that even love nor God can save you from some things come on in with a very short piece poets like to write their own epigraphs and anything else would get away with her epitaphs i should say epigraphs to I've made you those it and so this one is is a poem that I wrote about how I want my remains to be to be dressed that's that's important me instructions for my burial clothes sometimes I dream Dolly Parton is my aunt I'm about 12 she comes to visit at Easter brings me chocolates jellybeans and makeup my mother frowns her is around the kitchen with the other female relatives they are all wearing sackcloth dolly sits beside me plays the guitar and sings her long red glitter nails click against the press when I say do not bury me in a suit I want to go out and sequence my mother shakes her head wonders where I learned such access thank you very much

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