Notes on a Tebot Bach Reading – Goldenwest College – 26 August 2011

Tonight was sedate but I was jumpy. Why was I jumpy? G. Murray Thomas was there, and Murray emanates a mellow, genial energy. Murray even sat at the same table as me. I should thus have been able to bask in good-natured Murrayonic energy and calmed the hell down. But I think my lingering narcissistic dread over offensively bombing two nights ago stuck with me. So I rushed and skittered my way through the innocuous “Documented Immigrant,” half-expecting each line to transmute into previously undiscovered strings of F-bombs and N-words. I forgot to mention that it was a narrative poem. I even forgot to introduce it by its title. Basically, my mojo was not working.

I saw Michael Miller in the audience. I recognize him now.

Oh, yeah, the features. There were three: Michael Kramer, Robert Wynne (also seen this week at The Ugly Mug), and Elijah Imlay. Kramer read from Hopeless Cases, his collection about a Catholic boys’ boarding school. Wynne again read a poem by and a poem for Scott Wannberg, as well as poems from his two most recent books, Museum of Parallel Art and Self-Portrait as Odysseus. Imlay read many, many poems from his book, Monsoon Blues, about his time as a clarinetist during the war in Vietnam. And then he read some more poems from it. I enjoyed hearing all three men speak, although I also might have enjoyed there being enough time for open readers to read two poems instead of one.

Just an offhand observation: I liked Murray’s poem about the planeload full of organs. I really need to get his new book, My Kidney Just Arrived. As I mentioned to him tonight, “So many books to buy once I get the money.” (I had to dip into my change jar to get funds to put into tonight’s collection bowl. I’m in that valley between the last unemployment check and the first paycheck of the school year. Just a few more days!)

Notes on Two Idiots Peddling Poetry – The Ugly Mug – 24 August 2011

All month long, I’ve been stymied as I tried to keep up with reactions to the readings I attended. First I had houseguests. We went to the Long Beach Barnes & Noble to hear Michael Miller of Moon Tide Press read. A milestone long in the making was finally made, but I was asked to stay shtum by the other involved party. I went to The Ugly Mug to hear Mindy Nettifee read, but she didn’t show up. And frankly, I can’t remember too many of the details of that night because I waited too long to debrief myself. (I’m sorry, Ana Reyes.) Conversely, the reading at Vinatero wine shop in Whittier was very memorable, but not entirely for the right reasons. I don’t want to revisit that night. Then I got sick. Not tragically ill, just not-going-out-and-coughing-my-way-through-people’s-performances ill. Throughout all of this, I tried to prepare myself for the coming school year, for the return to work and money. Mostly, yeah, I’ve been stymieing myself. But I’ll still allow myself a sigh for what could have been.

Mood swing. Hey, whatevs. Now I’m tentatively back in the saddle. Scattered, it seems, but on the horse.

I went to downtown Orange straight after class. Class gets out at 5:50 on Wednesdays; Two Idiots Peddling Poetry doesn’t start until 8:00. So I had puh-lenty of time to kill at Bruxie and The Ugly Mug before the show started. I got to The Ugly Mug so early that another meeting was going on in the back room, which was walled off so that I couldn’t claim my usual seat. I sat by the window, feeling a little exposed but enjoying the improved vantage for watching the people pass by outside. Eventually, the wall came down, but I was situated by then.

Last night was the eleventh-anniversary show for Two Idiots Peddling Poetry. Congratulations, Ben Trigg and Steve Ramirez! Your baby is beautiful. Robert Wynne came out from Texas to be the featured reader. (I believe he’s the guy who wrote the poem based on Jaimes Palacio‘s Facebook statuses.) He read from his three collections, Remembering How to Sleep, Museum of Parallel Art, and Self-Portrait as Odysseus, all of which are available here. He read from a 245-line acrostic poem still under development. He read old stuff. He read new stuff. He began the whole deal by reading stuff written by, inspired by and dedicated to Scott Wannberg, who died August 19. I was quite impressed at the skill, cleverness, control, and maturity of Wynne’s work. I’m looking forward to hearing him again on Friday.

I was especially impressed by Robert Wynne because I had finished making an ass out of myself just moments earlier. Before Wynne took the stage, before Blondarella performed her excellent rhyming piece in honor of the Two Poetry Idiots, I had climbed up and performed two new, unpublished pieces. “A Man and a Woman and a Bird” went over quite well, but “Left Behind” created a minor explosion when I hit the part about the carnivorous invisible chickens living inside the pegasi’s nether regions. Most people generated an uncomfortable, awkward silence. Eric Morago pleased me by doubling over, but perhaps that was less in hilarity than in gutshot shock at what I had recited. Basically, John went “Oops.”

Despite the potential fallout from the inappropriate imagery of my second poem, however, I was a little less socially impaired than usual, maybe because I wasn’t hiding in the darkness of the row chairs. Eric came over to chat a little, the first time we’ve spoken face to face. Jaimes shook my hand before he left, which made me feel important. I congratulated Ben and Steve on hitting Year 11. Ben, whom I also spoke to face to face for the first time, encouraged me to read more new stuff and said he liked “the first one” (Ha! I.e., not “Left Behind.”). I expressed my condolences that Jesus took almost all of the good gay men to Heaven when the Rapture happened back in May. That generated some laughter for the right reasons. I left The Ugly Mug feeling guilty for reading a “dirty” poem but happy to be part of the ongoing Poetic Idiocy.