Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Creative Writing with Don Emblen, part VI

from the diary: “Monday 4/13/87

“Got notice t’day that I got the $150 Eng. scholarship. (Damon Heim, a classmate, got the $250 one.) … Emblen handed out a couple of my poems with ‘classic’ poems attached. My ‘Love You More’ was accompanied by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning. Gad! I’m s’posed to look good in that company?”

Emblen wanted us to see our work in the company of the Big poets. Looking back I remember it as both scary & empowering. And I ended up appreciating EB-B a little more than otherwise.

4/27: “I stayed home today. Nursed my sore throat. … Got a call from Jeni at dinnertime. … [S]he told me some about Creative Writing. … They critiqued my two pomes. ‘Love You More’ and ‘Tellin’ the Sun’. Jus as well.”

Odd that Emblen went ahead & reviewed poems when the author was absent, but he claimed workshopping poems was as much for those doing the critiquing as for those who’d written. I like the way this focuses attention on the reading and the poem as an object independent of its author.

While reading my diary I sometimes run a name through Google to see what folks are up to now. This doesn’t do much good for persons with common names like “Geoffrey Brown” and “Chris Williams”, but when I ran “Damon Van Hoesen” I discovered his blog. I left a comment asking, “’Are you the same Damon that...bla bla bla....’” (as Damon subsequently paraphrased, ellipses in orig) … Damon and Jeni met in the Creative Writing Class about which I’ve been writing. Though I imagined them still together, as they got on so well, I really had no idea. In fact, they have been together ever since, married, and recently had a son. Since finding the blog Damon, Jeni, and I have exchanged a few emails and photos and are consulting our schedules for when we might reunite. (They live in Guerneville.)

I asked Damon about this “Damon Heim” mentioned in the diary and he doesn’t remember him. “I would remember another Damon!” he insists. He says he didn’t meet another Damon until he was going to SSU. Yet a “Damon Heim” does exist, according to Google, and he lives in San Rafael, which is closer to Santa Rosa than Berkeley. Damon Van Hoesen says he won the $250, which is what I was suspecting when rereading the diary. I think I wrote the entry while Damon was just another face in class. But I also think there were two Damons in that class. Perhaps the other Damon dropped out before he made an impression, his only residue the name in my diary. (Damon Heim, if you read this, feel free to correct me.) It was pretty typical to have a full classroom on the first day of school. When there were classes I needed (for transfer or whatever) there were times I worried about being able to get in, yet there was no class I ever took at JC that didn’t end the semester with some (occasionally many) empty seats. As I recall there were only a handful of us who made it all the way through the Spring 87 semester of Creative Writing. And by that time we knew each other well.

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