Skip to content →

Auburn Diary: Settling In

(27 October 2012) AUBURN, AL – It’s been about two weeks since I last updated this blog with something other than a poem. So maybe that’s a place to start.

I find that times of transition are often fertile writing periods for me. As I meet new people and navigate new circumstances and deal with the things I’ve left behind, I tend to get into a place where poems come easily. This isn’t a comment on their quality, of course, I’ll leave that to the readers to judge. But I’m at least inspired to write, whether the subject material is positive or not.

It’s no surprise, if you’ve known me for more than about five minutes, that many of my recent poems have been about relationships. Given how much I’ve been traveling, and how much the significant relationships in my life have changed over the past several months, it’s a constant subject in my brain. And in my meditation practice, too. When I’m on the cushion, watching my breath, the important people in my life always find a way into my thoughts.

So before I go on to the rest of what’s been happening, here’s a quick survey of my recent poems:

  • “barefoot” — A poem inspired by singer/songwriter Katie Martin, whose work I’ve just totally fallen in love with. And once she gets all her stuff up on Bandcamp (hint, hint), I’ll be sending you links so you can hear it, too.
  • “drifting” — One of the hardest things I’ve had to deal with recently is leaving behind someone I really cared about. That’s never easy, and it felt even harder this time because the circumstances were beyond the control of either of us.
  • “mixed blessing” — A poem about someone I met in Knoxville, Tennessee.
  • “if the world is so damn small” — The first night of my current stay in Auburn, I hung out with my friend Patrick and with three other people with whom I’ve continued to spend time. Two of them are from the same part of the world as I am, and one in particular even has some of the same friends and acquaintances. To come to Alabama and immediately meet people who know other people you know just reminds me, yet again, that the world can be a very small and beautiful place.
  • “a park bench on Gay Street” — I walk to work, and my route takes me past Auburn’s Town Creek Park, across from which is a strangely placed bench. This is an observational poem written on the way home earlier this week.
  • “circle yes or no” — A possibly immature poem about dating. Hey, nobody’s perfect.
  • “October” — A little vignette with a bit of tension thrown in.

So what else have I been up to? Well, I’ve been working every day at The Gnu’s Room. Right now, that involves researching grant opportunities, meeting with board members, networking with folks in the arts community, and also simpler things like running the register. I enjoy being there. The Gnu’s Room attracts folks from all walks of life, and they’re all interesting to talk to.

One cool thing about small towns is how quickly you get to know people. It helps that I’ve already made four or five appearances in the various local papers, but even without that Auburn is small enough that it’s easy to develop a community quickly. More than anything, the people are why I want to be here. I’m making friends and meeting very talented artists and spending time with people who make me happy. That seems like a perfect definition of a good place to live.

Three cities ago, I lived in Rochester, NY. After seven years there, most of that time spent in fairly public jobs (on the radio and as a union and community organizer) and running for office, it was nearly impossible for me to go anywhere without seeing people I knew. I’ve been in Auburn three weeks, and that’s nearly true here. I didn’t realize how much I missed that feeling of being part of the fabric of a community until I started to find it again here.

I’ve seen some really good music recently, too.

From Trio Mosaic at JCSM – 18 Oct 2012

Back on the 18th I heard a student trio from Columbus State at my friend Patrick’s A Little Lunch Music series. They played three solo pieces (cello, piano, flute) before joining forces for a lovely trio piece by Weber.

That same night I went to the Sundilla concert series here in Auburn and heard singer/songwriter Susan Gibson, who was a very creative lyricist.

This week Ellington Way performed at The Gnu’s Room — their voices are gorgeous and I also just love watching them play, particularly the way they look at one another when they sing. It’s very sweet.

And there was another Rochester connection, too, in the person of Dan Kwiatkowski, who performs under the name Deeper Than The Ocean. The day before his performance, I took Dan (who is from Churchville) to lunch and we swapped road stories. He’s on an extended tour, just like I was, and it was fun to talk to someone who really understood what that’s like. Many people ask, “How was your trip?” but the reality is that most of the time they just want to hear “good” and be done with it. And I can’t say I blame them. So it’s fun when two people with similar road experiences get a chance to trade tales.

The Gnu’s Room has had a few book events since I’ve been there. The one that moved me most was a reading by the author Carroll Dale Short, who read from his collection of short stories called Turbo’s Very Life. The title story is about how he figured out fatherhood during his divorce, and it really hit me.

There are still some major things to work out here — I need a paying job, soon, and a place of my own, kinda soon (although I really enjoy staying with my friend Rachel). And there’s the distance from my sons, which is difficult, but which we’re trying to mitigate with technology. I hope they’ll be able to come down here soon and spend some time. Auburn will remind them a lot of the football-crazed college town where they live.

All in all, though, things are going well. I’m hopeful and happy, which is a nice change.

Published in Auburn

One Comment

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.