On Monday, Susan and I listened to Judith Strasser and Anne-Marie Cusac (Silkie), two journalists who have recently published poetry books. We missed Anne-Marie's readings, but Judith's reading of The Reason/Unreason Project was extremely personal, ironic and witty. Here's a taste from "Cancer Dream":
They're running IV's on women in turbans.
Jaundiced patients are having blood drawn.
In a barbaric contraption topped by a vial
of Nembutal, someone's hanging upside down.
I survived cancer.
I take long bike rides.
I am anemic.
I am the dreamer.
I am terrified.
On Thursday night, a crowd of us dodged the rain storm to listen to Jim Autry (in above picture) give his reading on Looking Around for God: The Oddly Reverent Observations of an Unconventional Christian. The book is a collection of essays with titles such as, "Sex and Sunday School" and "God at the Track Meet." He also has several poems included as well. Jim was a fighter pilot, a Fortune 500 executive and is motivational speaker and consultant, among other talents.
Jim and his wife Sally Pederson (former Lt. Gov of Iowa) have a 22-year-old son, Ronald, who has autism, and I found the essays around the couple's experiences with their son very moving. I spoke a long time to both Jim and Sally about autism research and told them a little bit about my experiences with Daniel, who at 2-years-old was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. We got Daniel in school-sponsored intervention programs and I told them how far he's progressed so he'll be ready for kindergarten.
Sally and Jim live in Des Moines.