I have just returned from a poetry reading at the Library of Congress, the awarding of the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt prize in poetry, hosted by Rebekah Bobbitt’s son, Columbia and UT law professor and my dear friend Philip Bobbitt. It was great. I was prepared for a (deadly) serious Encounter with the Arts, and Lucia Perillo turned out to have one of the most cheerfully witty sensibilities I’ve heard or read in a long time. It took me completely out of my ordinary and somewhat tense and dreary space today – final exams, crazed students, rank and tenure faculty meetings, nothing life-threatening but still pressured. I was charmed and provoked. I also was pleased to buy a copy of the book, Inseminating the Elephant.
Confined to a wheelchair today with multiple sclerosis, Perillo trained originally in wildlife management – her first job was at a lab figuring out the doses for killing various varmints troubling farmers and ranchers, coyotes, vampire bats, lots of things. Nothing pretentious, although a keen, keen intelligence lies beneath an apparently nonchalant exterior. Her romp about her professor of Transcendentalism through to postmodernism was wonderful. Great evening; my thanks to Philip for thinking to invite me. And Philip gave a wonderful introduction, talking about how his parents had met in working in the Library of Congress in the 1930s.