Oliver de la Paz was an incredible treat to have on campus; I was in another world from the very first poem he read and I don’t think I’ll ever forget the idea of seeing jars with fireflies in them, but “no, they’re hands holding matches.” Fantastic. I had never heard of the term “ekphrastic poems” but I’ve done an exercise in which I had to write a poem based off of a picture and it was difficult, so I was pretty impressed that de la Paz had a whole bunch of really neat pictures and corresponding poems. I also really liked the anecdote and practice of the post card poems. My least favorite poem or idea was the one about Aeros, the colt, trotting. I suppose if I were a horse lover it might have stood among the other poems, but as I am not, it was the weakest link for me (which in no way made it a bad poem).
It was really helpful to hear that there was a 10 year span between his first and second book publishing. I liked the idea of using titles as prompts, as in his “Aubade with constellations, some horses, and snow.” Very cool experience to get another great poet’s advice and perspective.
I also took great pleasure in hearing “In Defense of Small Towns” read by Oliver himself, as I’d studied this poem, along with a few others, this semester and it was by-far my favorite of his that I’d been acquainted with.
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