Meeting Charles Hood at the Arroyo Seco Library

Sunday evening, May 11, 2014

Today I drove down to San Diego to see my mother, who is feeling much better than at the beginning of the fall semester. The time she spent with my niece in Michigan this winter somehow got her back on track. She reported that she was snow-bound most of the time, so I worried when I talked to her on the phone that she was not getting sufficient time out of the house to interact with people. If it was a kind of hibernation, however, as Michigan endured the harshest winter in 40 years, then she has found some new measure of vigor upon her return to San Diego. She’s eating better and is much more vigilant about making use of two canes instead of trying to get back with one.

I had hoped to write an entry before I left, but I woke up too late to get anything keyboarded; and, unfortunately, the traffic back was very slow between northern San Diego County and San Clemente. As such, the day is almost over and I am rather tired from the drive, at the end of which I unpacked my car with several boxes of books that had been stored at my mother’s place for the past decade. One of the biggest surprises was finding a box of Joseph Hansen’s One Foot in the Boat.  Only 29 libraries are listed on the World Cat as having a copy, so I hope to get some of these copies placed in a few other libraries.

Yesterday Suzanne Lummis hosted a follow-up reading at the Arroyo Seco Library for the prize-winners of the Highland Park poetry-in-the-windows exhibition. A fellow almost as tall as Ed Skoog introduced himself to me as Charles Hood, and said that he had missed meeting me during the walk-around on Figueroa a couple weeks ago. He mentioned that he had studied The Streets Inside, an anthology of Los Angeles poets I edited in 1978, “like a Bible” back when he was an undergraduate at UC Irvine, where he was friends with my best friend in Texas, Kevin McNamara. Charles is the first person to mention The Streets Inside to me in many years and I confess that he immediately endeared himself to me with that citation. As flawed as that anthology is, it still represented a ferocious amount of energy being devoted to poetry in a city rarely recognized for its activity in that art form. To have someone such as Charles Hood mention my anthology as an inspiring influence makes me proud once again of the all the poets back then who entrusted me with their work. What impressed me most, I suppose, is that the overwhelming majority of people I meet at L.A. readings barely remember “Poetry Loves Poetry,” which Charles mentioned that he also had a copy of on his shelf next to The Streets Inside. I had never heard him read before and it was pleasure to hear his brief outpouring of thoughtfully buoyant poems. I look forward to hearing more of them soon.