In Displaying the life and thoughts of a humanist scientist, I said spending time at the University of Rochester means feasting on an ever replenished smorgasbord of historical, philosophical, literary and visual delights. Last night’s poetry readings at the Hawkins-Carlson Room was no exception.
The readings were part of the year long celebration of the 40th anniversary of Boa Editions, perhaps Rochester’s most distinguished press.
Digging into both the BOA archives and the Rush Rhees Rare Book collection, curators Travis Johansen and Phyllis Andrews have created a fascinating tapestry of 40 years of literary activity, embroidered with assorted artifacts, vintage photos, art work, as well as writer’s and reader’s statements on their own creative processes: BOA Edition: 40 Years of Connecting Writers with Readers. (A more in depth article on the exhibit in the Friedlander Lobby upcoming.)
As President Seligman noted in his opening remarks, for an independent press to thrive for four decades — especially in the internet era — is a fine accomplishment indeed. On BOA’s longevity, Seligman gently quipped, come back in 40 years and we can really talk.
Kicking off the celebration were readings from a wide range of authors published by BOA over the decades: Francis Ponge’s 1982 “Rain” to Delmore Schwartz’s 1992 “Baudelaire” to William Heyen’s 1996 “Legend” (read by himself) to Lucille Clifton’s “won’t you celebrate with me” from Blessing the Boats (below) read by Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. As seen below, the list of readers and attendees spanned the fields of government, publishing, the arts, print and tv media — with some college professors and a president thrown in for good measure.Listening to Mayor Warren read from Blessing the Boats was a pleasure. Lovely’s passion for poetry shone through, the same passion city school kids must experience when she visits and reads to them. And it was heartening to see President Seligman and Mayor Warren’s mutual engagement as one small part of what has been a successful town and gown collaboration.
At the same time, I had my own mini-agenda when learning that Mayor Warren, who you met at an HBCU event at the Blue Cross Arena, was there.
The other day we reported on a campaign to create a U.S. commemorative stamp honoring Earl Lloyd. It was Lloyd who, on a chilly Halloween night in 1950, made history at the old Edgerton Park Arena as the first African-American player in the National Basketball League. As we reported, that night Lloyd, a visiting player with the Washington Capitols, was greeted with grace and respect by Rochester fans.
I think Rochester can do one better. Next to the basketball courts at Edgerton Park — site of the long gone arena — let’s erect a statue of Lloyd. So a new generation of Rochester hoopsters and fans can learn about that famous-first moment in the history of our city.
Might Albert Paley be interested? Maybe a figure of a Rochester Royal could be included. After all, we were home to an NBA championship team.So last evening I planted the seed of the idea, briefly explaining the concept to Mayor Warren. She did not realize the event had taken place at Edgerton Park. Lovely found the image in her mind’s eye of young basketball players on a hot summer’s night playing next to a statue of Lloyd intriguing. And she’ll keep us posted.
Think about it. With all due respect to philatelists, a bronze statue beats a paper stamp.
BELOW: some Rochester basketball at Cobb’s Hill and more on University of Rochester libraries, art, museums and displays.