Back from Virginia

Just got back from my trip to Charlottesville. Found an apartment for the summer, in a quaint, charming, historic building (yay!). Freaking out about what to do with the furniture I’m keeping, as said apartment is pre-furnished. (Storage, most likely.) Freaking out about moving in general, but otherwise quite happy. Charlottesville is a town of red brick buildings, white-painted columns, and green, green trees everywhere. Lots of huge magnolias with big glossy leaves. Lots of rolling hills, and the Blue Ridge Mountains in sight from all over campus. All the buildings are graceful and pretty and built to an agreeably human scale, and I loved the brick-paved downtown pedestrian mall. I scouted out one knitting store, a bunch of used bookstores, and lots of restaurants. And the people I’ll be working with at the UVA library? Very, very cool. This year is going to be tremendously exciting.

I must remember to update my summer wardrobe and invest in several gallons of high-quality hair product, if the humidity-induced frizziness of this week was any indication. But, on the bright side, despite lush vegetation everywhere, my allergies barely acted up. I’m a little bit worried about moving to a state whose legislature just voted to outlaw everything even resembling gay marriages, but it’s not like I’ve never lived in a college town in a mostly conservative state before.

And because I’ve not been posting much about poetry lately, here’s some of what Marianne Moore said about Virginia (in "Virginia Britannia," What Are Years?, 1941):

   Pale sand edges England’s Old
   Dominion. The air is soft, warm, hot
above the cedar-dotted emerald shore
      known to the red-bird, the red-coated musketeer,
      the trumpet-flower, the cavalier,
      the parson, and the wild parishioner. …

… The Old Dominion has
      all-green box-sculptured grounds.
      An almost English green surrounds
      them. Care has formed among unEnglish insect sounds,
the white wall-rose. …

      Priorities were cradled in this region not
      noted for humility; spot
      that has high-singing frogs, cotton-mouth snakes and cot-
ton-fields; a unique
   Lawrence pottery with loping wolf design; and too
   unvenomous terrapin in tepid greenness,
      idling near the sea-top;
records on church walls; a Devil’s Woodyard; and the one-brick-

   thick serpentine wall built by

There’s more, but it’s too long a poem to quote in full. But now I have seen those one-brick-thick serpentine walls that divide the Pavilion Gardens, and admired their sinuous curves, and learned why Jefferson designed them that way (short answer: because he wanted to economize on bricks, and a curving one-brick-thick wall will stand where a straight one will fall over).

The curious can find more about Moore at Today in Literature, Sweet Briar College, and Modern American Poetry.

5 Responses to “Back from Virginia”

  1. cindy says:

    Congratulations. Sounds beautiful. And exciting (despite the political small-mindedness of the area).

  2. Michelle says:

    Congratulations on the move! I knew someone (through someone) who did the MFA in Creative Writing there (mainly I think because of Rita Dove’s presence) and I thought the area sounded lovely (and I’m echoing Cindy’s thoughts – despite conservative political outlook of the state). They have an annual literary festival that drew people I wouldn’t have minded meeting. Hope the allergies aren’t a problem. Sounds like a successful beginning there. 🙂

  3. Kevin Walzer says:

    Glad it went well! I hope this proves a good move for you.

  4. Frolic says:

    The state may be conservative, but the town in quite liberal.
    In what part of Charlottesville did you find a place?

  5. Amanda says:

    On the Grounds, as a matter of fact — they were able to find me a spot in a faculty housing apartment for the summer. After that I’ll be looking off-campus for an apartment that I can move my furniture into.