For Rita Dove, it was an unusual Saturday. It began ordinarily enough: Dove had spent the afternoon at the Academy of American Poets, where she is one of fifteen “chancellors.” By 8 P.M., though, the day had taken a strange turn, and Dove, who is fifty-nine, found herself in the basement of the Chinatown Brasserie, sitting in a recessed booth illumined by a red lantern, looking out over five poker tables ringed with players who had each paid $1,500 just for the privilege to sit there.
“I’m terrified of those tables,” she said. Even so, she added, referring to poets, “We’re supposed to be open to new experiences, so here I am.”
She was by no means the only noteworthy author present. At one table sat the novelist Walter Kirn; at another, the comedian, writer, art collector, and banjoist Steve Martin; at a third, the novelist Amy Tan, the evening’s host. Her invitation to the poker tournament had begun, “This may be one of the most unusual dinner invitations you’ll ever receive.” Read More