Last week was a bounty and a delight.*
I spent it attending and writing and blogging - a newfangled form of communication blessed Friday night by the high priestess of literacy and literary endeavors, Joyce Carol Oates - about Writers Week at UC Riverside.
My worries about the future of the newspaper business and my general concern for reading and the writing life in the 21st century were not fully assuaged, but I got a tremendous morale boost from the event and from the hundreds of readers and writers who turned out Friday night to hear and applaud as Ms. Oates extended her approval to the Internet and the Information Age.
Gadzooks and glory be!
She called this New Age "the evolution of human conscience." We can't stop it, she said, "We've got to go with it."
Thank you, ma'am. I'm pushing my canoe out into the main current, and I'm going to ride it downstream as far as it takes me, even if I go over the falls without a barrel.
Please join me, whether you are a passenger or a paddler, reader or a writer.
The 31st annual Writers Week was brought to us by the Creative Writing Department at UCR, the only such program in the whole UC system, and it gave me reason to be proud I live in the Inland Empire and in the presence and under influence of a great university.
And UCR is a bastion of scientific research and development that is not just at the cutting edge of discovery, where the Gee Whizzes and Holy Cows of achievement are found, but holding the scalpel that makes the cut, but that's for another story - no, many more stories - for many more days.
This story is for the beauty of the written word, that beauty that not only limns but exactly describes the human condition from tragedy to comedy and every nuance that lies between.
Yes, Joyce Carol Oates was the climax to the week, but on the way we were treated to many fine writers, some new and some established.
Their work adds substantially to my library, and my reading of it will provide many hours of pleasure.
Their are the poets Paisley Rekdal, Richard Shelton, Ed Ochester and David Hernandez. Gordon Johnson, Catherine Allgor and Judith Freeman, who put nonfiction on a literary pedestal. And let's hear it for the novelists and short-story writers, who lend their imaginations to a hungry nation of readers, Chris Abani, Alex Espinoza, Marisa Silver, Tod Goldberg, Denise Hamilton, Emory Holmes II, Naomi Hirahara and Diana Wagman.
Novelist and UCR professor Susan Straight, director of Writers Week, and professor Chuck Whitney, chairman of the Creative Writing Department and co-director of the event, can be proud of their accomplishment and the wide impact it is having.
My advice to them, get busy preparing for Writers Week 32. I can hardly wait.
*(To the boss: I still expect to get paid for it.)