Octopus' Garden

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

NOT IN KANSAS ANYMORE, TOTO

I spent a very pleasant afternoon yesterday giving a reading and holding a class discussion at the Yankton Federal Prison Camp twenty minutes down the road in Yankton, South Dakota.

I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but given that the YFPC is a minimum-security institution, I had a feeling that it wasn't going to be no cable T.V. Oz--replete with shankings, drug deals, open gang warfare, lockdowns, and riots. So I had to ratchet down my feverishly hyperbolic over-imaginings a bit, which was good, as the prison is located at the former Yankton College, with beautiful old academic buildings and exquisite grounds. Apparently, inmates can earn an associate's degree in horticulture (as well as other offerings).

I visited Jim Reese's class (Jim's a writer who teaches at nearby Mount Marty, and edits the literary journal Paddlefish), and they were a terrific group -- extremely attentive, receptive, and engaged, with lots of excellent discussion questions following the reading. (Even if, as co-poet and co-discussant Greg Kosmicki pointed out tongue-in-cheekly, they were a captive audience. Har.)

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AH: [During yesterday's reading.] And there are apparently certain beetles! And inside their bodies they have separate chambers, each housing a different kind of chemical which, when kept separate, are no big deal, but when combined, they become toxic and explosive. So when these beetles are threatened, as a defense mechanism, they combine the two chemicals, and then shoot this toxic, explosive chemical out their ass! Hee! [Pauses, and remembers self.] Um . . . but this poem's not about that.

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Much of yesterday's sky indulging in its own hyperbole: all shiny gun-metal blue and moody dark plum, punctuated by sizzling Z's of lightning and sudden rain. At one point, during dinner with M., an overly-crayoned cartoon stereotype of a rainbow lurched out at us from behind the Post Office. It was so big and intrusive that I almost thought it was going to tip over my glass of Cavit Pinot Noir and fall right into my Zuppa de Mona Lisi.

What can you do with a corny, overly-optimistic rainbow like that?

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Next week I depart for the Land of the Rotary Dial Phone (a.k.a. no internet connectivity) while I visit my Parental Units in Laramie, Wyoming.

I'm in the process of locating Wi Fi hotspots so that I can post bog updates. I'm going to take lots of pictures. Seriously, Oh Blogosphere, you have no idea . . .
posted by Artichoke Heart at 8:47 PM

4 Comments:

Hooray for over the top rainbows-- it sounds like quite a sight. It's good to hear that your reading went so well... though sad that the land between the nets will swallow you up. Did you actually find any hotspots in your research?
Blogger ScottM, at 9:29 PM  
Yes, I appear to have several viable Wi Fi options, so yay!
Blogger Artichoke Heart, at 2:54 AM  
Yankton, SD. Makes me think of the show Deadwood, with which I was obsessed.
Blogger sara, at 11:03 AM  
Sara: I definitely have an increased appreciation for Yankton since watching Deadwood which was so absolutely obsession-worthy.
Blogger Artichoke Heart, at 7:21 PM  

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