Why am I in America? As noted earlier, my wife was invited here by a certain East Coast University to bolster their already burgeoning reputation for the study of Eastern European poetry. She is expected to give three lectures each semester, and to take part in ‘x’ number of symposiums, seminars and champagne soirees. In addition to this she is under orders to be ‘as productive, in a creative sense, as circumstances allow’; which is to say that they expect her to write at least two stonkingly brilliant poems a month. At least one of these poems, they hope, will reflect on her new life in America, with particular reference to one of the following: a. the marvellous eccentricity of campus architecture, b. the stupefying beauty of the surrounding countryside, c. the relationship between ‘family’ and ‘community’. Just after Thanksgiving she will be expected to give a public reading of her 1990 poetic cycle Tightening the Threads Till the Camel Comes. This is expected to sell out the largest University auditorium, named after the only daughter of a mildly successful entrepreneur who died during the Civil War (the entrepreneur that is, not his daughter, who went on to become a highly popular circus performer, and not the scholar her father wished for).

I am expected, merely, to behave. Only time will tell whether this is beyond my capabilities.


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