I tried not to let the man who sat next to me after the reading started--tall and sprawling, in a red-white-and-blue top hat and a cape made out of an American flag--ruin my experience. But I thought, That's what I get for coming to something alone, and having an empty chair next to me.
I'd seen Pollitt once before, but only briefly, at an Auden tribute that was part of the New Yorker Festival a couple years ago. So this was a treat. I bought her new book before the reading. As I waited for her to sign it, I said, "You're my hero."
She said, not too pleased, "That's a heavy burden."
I said, "I know, I'm sorry." Shrug.
You always wish for something more intelligent to say, but nothing comes. On my way down Clark Street later, I thought I should have said, "You and Grace Paley." Which is true, and might have led to some conversation.
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