Wednesday, October 15, 2008

This Is My Friend

I say this a lot: I like the writing of my friends because reading it replicates the experience of spending time with them -- or it even takes that experience and distills it down to its best qualities. If you don't agree, that's fine. You probably just wouldn't like my friends that much.

Fred Seidel is my friend. I walk his dog and sometimes housesit at his apartment, the one mentioned in his new poem that's in the New Yorker now. I've met some of his family and been to a cocktail party at his place that took place, conveniently, on my birthday two years ago. And so I really loved reading that poem, which I didn't know was going to be in the magazine until I opened it up and read it. I like to think I'd have liked it anyway, even if I didn't know him. That's another aspect of reading someone's work who's alive and accessible to you: if you don't know them and you like the thing, it makes you wish you knew them.

The same thing happened a couple of months ago when I happened upon a poem in the Sun by Katrina Vandenberg, a Sewanee friend I'd just seen like a couple of weeks before.

Have I ever read any of my friends' work that makes me wish I didn't know them?

Yes.

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