Irv Peckham’s visit commences at the Studiola.

Here it is…we’re getting our interviews rolling here at the Studiola! Our first visitor is Irv Peckham: scholar, teacher, activist, musician and mountain biker.

I will tell you one thing before we talk more with Irv. I met Irv’s late wife Sarah during a time of personal turmoil. She was one of those people who had the ability to look you straight in the face and make you feel like she saw complete worth and vitality pulsing out of you. We spoke of libraries that changed the world and pockets of the teaching relationship that generated a writer’s soul–despite the emotional drain. In the few times I spoke with her or stretched in yoga poses near her, I had the distinct sensation of building a house of hope and I saved Sarah’s phone number on a scrap of paper, taped into my journal. I told myself I would pursue a closer connection with her once I “was in a better, stronger place of Alison.” The entire community–in addition to Sarah’s friends and family and colleagues of course–feel her loss acutely. I learned a lot about how later– the later of better versions ourselves—never comes–and the absolute absurdity of denying oneself good things “until I deserve them”.

When I learned that Irv and Sarah played Dylan Thomas’ A Child’s Christmas in Wales to their children every Christmastime on the record player, I knew why our friendship had bloomed strong and sure. It’s my personal favorite family Christmas memory from my own childhood, needle skips and all. The poet’s sonorous voice set our living room humming with the feeling of being tiny in a weird, beautiful world.

Nola Studiola Question one: What makes you laugh?

What makes me laugh?  I really don’t laugh much any more, although I know I will learn how to laugh in the future.  I think I will say what used to make me laugh—maybe it still does.  Cannery Row made me laugh—a lot.  I was rolling on the floor.  Catch 22 made me laugh.  So a good humorous book can make me laugh—likewise a humorous movie.  I used to love Peter Sellers.  Dr. Strangelove made me laugh and laugh.  I used to laugh at Ali and Sami sometimes (my dog and cat—they do funny things together.  I like the way Sami lies in the grass and pretends to be a lion and rushes out to pounce on Ali when I bring him back from my morning walk.  My grandchildren make me laugh.  My twin granddaughters (I just came back from visiting them) are very funny with each other.  I loved the way Adeline would watch me hugging Vivi—Adeline would be around the corner, trying to decide whether she would let me hold her.  Vivi would run to me all the time.  Then Adeline suddenly started running into my arms, and Vive stopped running to me.

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