Friday, December 12, 2003

Sharon Bryan - San Diego, CA

Sharon Bryan's cat (the beautifully hirsute and husky Spencer) has an amazing trick. 30 minutes into the interview, I spotted Spencer in the middle of the living room, rising back on his haunches, reaching his front paws upward, stretching, a vertical and supplicant offering of some kind to the God of cats. He pedaled his front paws a couple of times and then settled back down. Sharon was in the middle of an answer to a question, but I never heard it, so amazed was I at the feline acrobatics. After Spencer was done, he turned around, gave me a once over and then settled back into a more normal horizontal pose on the carpet. I'll have to listen to the tape to see what Sharon had to say, but what I wouldn't give for a video of that trick.

I visited Sharon's bright San Diego apartment right at the semester end. A stack of graded essays rested on a barstool, and a higher stack - waiting for grades - waited nearby.

Sharon is a professional nomadic poet. She's been a visiting writer in a wide range of terrific places, Ohio, Texas, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Washington just to name a few. Born in Utah, educated in the northeast, and a lover of the Pacific Northwest - she calls Port Townsend, Washington, home - she's a restless soul.

Sharon has a love for anthropology and a keen desire to name and understand our role in the bigger picture, the planet, space, etc. It's equal parts science and spirituality, I think, lower case "S" on both. We talked a lot about the west, desert spaces. She told me about a superb visit to southern Utah and a prop plane tour of the geologic magic of the area.

We talked about some folks I've seen on the trip, good pals of hers. One of the great benefits of the project is passing along greetings from town to town, hearing funny stories about so-and-so back in the day, etc. And Sharon knows a lot of folks.

After I left, I regretted not following up on Sharon's time in Memphis. She talked about the shrine, Graceland. She's got a picture of Elvis in her place. I made a little cross as I passed it, hummed a little "Suspicious Minds" on the walk to the car, but if Spencer would have had me, I'd have stayed a little longer to talk about the King.