My colleague Rory did an astonishingly competent job yesterday serving as moderator for the tribute to William Gass, sponsored by the University of Illinois Creative Writing Program and the Carr Reading Series.
Writers and poets Rikki Ducornet (also the inspiration for “Rikki Don’t Lose that Number”), Mary Jo Bang, Kathryn Davis, and Gordon Hutner paid tribute with pieces that ranged from meta-scholarship on Gass’ work to an anatomy of the word “gas,” in the manner of Gass’ own On Being Blue. Rory did his thing, pictured here, then went back to his hotel room and swooned.
I had my own day before the tribute, one of the biggest thrills of my writerly life, when I went to lunch with Mr. Gass and a few others, including his wife, Mary, who’s an architect, and his daughter Catherine, a photographer. It was a wonderful couple of hours. This AWP thing may work out after all.